“Anyone who says he wants to be a writer and isn’t writing, doesn’t.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Okay, so Mr. H. knew a thing or two about writing, but sometimes when *life* gets into the act, it doesn’t seem quite that simple.
An RWA chapter I visited recently holds a monthly challenge to encourage productivity. Members put their writing goals for the coming four weeks and a dollar bill into an envelope. At the next meeting, the writers who achieved their goals have their names put in a hat, and one person’s name is drawn to win the whole pot.
At the meeting I attended, only six members had entered the challenge (though I’m told sometimes as much as $30 is on the line). The goals in question ranged from “write 8000 words” to “start writing again.” And only two people had done what they planned to do.
This led to a discussion among the women at my table. We cared enough about being writers to drag our butts to an evening meeting, yet we all had to admit we pretty much… weren’t writing.
We had a variety of excuses. We’re writers – of course we know how to come up with stories.
Member 1 – “I’m pregnant and I had morning sickness.” Only she acknowledged the morning sickness had ended after the first trimester. And she also allowed as how, once she stopped being pregnant, she’d have a new excuse – “I have a new baby.”
Me – “I just moved.” But I had to admit “just” had stretched out to over three months, I was all settled in at my new job, and everything I realistically expected to unpack was already unpacked. My excuse was sounding paper thin.
Guest No. 2 – “My job is sucking the soul out of me.” Okay, at one time or another, most of us have “been there, done that, got the T-shirt.” But when the day job is unsatisfying, isn’t that when we most need the creative outlet writing provides?
All right, maybe it really *is* as simple as Ernie boy said. There's no perfect time to write. Life is always happening and will always be happening. If we want to, we’ll always be able to find an excuse not to write. If, on the other hand, we want to be writers, then we have to write. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. End of story. Or rather, beginning of story… lots of wonderful stories.
So, what are your excuses for not writing, and how do you talk yourself out of them?
Saturday, April 24, 2010
“Anyone who says he wants to be a writer and isn’t writing, doesn’t.”
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
We're getting into conference and convention season here and I recently listened to a panel of YA and MG authors talking about their books and their writing experiences--you know, stuff I subject my blog followers to on a semi-regular basis. ;-)
Everything was going along smoothly (a little discussion about how hard being an author can be--which I think is a good reality check from time to time) until one author turned to another and grinned, saying, "I guess we all could've made a bunch more money if we'd just written paranormals. Just add a vampire!" Everyone chuckled.
My right eyebrow raised. But I kept my mouth shut. What the author's words didn't convey her tone and delivery did. That writing paranormals is somehow far easier and more lucrative than writing straight fiction or non-fiction.
It's the same attitude I've heard adult fiction and non-fiction authors use toward YA and MG authors (and picture book authors--oh, boy!). Like whatever they do is so much more difficult because they have adult readers (let's not dare point out that many adults never progress in reading level beyond eighth grade so it's not heavy vocabulary we fail to use that they're weilding). And, I'll be honest--condensing a story down to a picture book level that still conveys to an artist how they might best illustrate that kernel--that's skill.
But this is typical of every career path and job. Whatever I'm doing has got to be harder than what you're doing, right? Blech! And surely those paranormal authors are just tacking paranormal or supernatural aspects onto what could otherwise be a decent fiction read--just to make more money, right? Building worlds? Ha!
This, is obviously one of my literary peeves. I value all authors. We all struggle to dump the contents of our brains onto a page in some coherent form. We all delve into worlds other than our own to build interesting books. So a little respect? I think we've all earned it regardless of genre or target audience.
What do you all think? Have you also heard or read stuff like this? Have you heard any author say something nasty or belittling about any other genre? Am I the only one who thinks it hurts our entire profession?
PS--As a result of the panel's conversation I started wondering if I should leave one story I'm researching as straight non-fiction. I even argued it back and forth with my brother and my husband. I have since made up my mind about that particular tale's genre. Paranormal, baby!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I bet you thought we dropped off the earth, didn't ya? Well, I for one wish that a few circumstances could have just passed by without gobbling up my time, but life just doesn't work that way.
Which is why I write. So things can somehow, someway, just this once, turn out the way I'd like them to.
So, after wandering about aimlessly for the past few weeks (O.K., part of that wondering was actually me suffering on the couch with an inner ear infection. I couldn't even READ for two weeks! Gads, I'd never wish it on my worst enemy) and with the ever inspiring Liane Gentry Skye leading the way, I am back.
With an assignment.
Wait! Don't leave! I'm not talking a homework assignment, exactly, but I am just curious about what inspires you.
For me, it's hardship.
Near death experiences.
Sick puppy, huh?
Well, life is hard. I know this. I read horror because of this. I watch gory movies and Oprah. I don't mind Nicholas Sparks movies. Awash in desperate and foreboding circumstances, I find that the human condition is at it's most interesting.
Writer's will tell you over and over, when you are stuck, imagine the worst thing that could happen to your character, then have it happen. You thought you knew everything about your beloved characters? Tie them up on a stone and put a swinging scythe aove them. Then tell me what they are made of.
Monday, April 12, 2010
It's just a little blog post. But hey, it's a post nonetheless, and trust me when I say that for me, anything in the way of words on a page is a major event! With that said, that's my theme for today, starting over. That, and allowing myself to start over *small*. Baby steps!
Those who know me are aware that a major family meltdown has separated me from my muse. There have been days when the simple act of breathing in and out loomed before me, an insurmountable challenge. During this time, my word count wasn't all that. Not that there wasn't word count, there was, here and there, but most of it was less than stellar.
I'm working hard to let myself be ok with that. For now, because at least wordes comitted to a page can be pushed around and rearranged. If it's not written backly, it can never be written beautifully. Yeah, I know all the platitudes. So why the major hesitation on my part?
Because this feels dangerously like learning to write all over again. Worse, *gasp*, I'm published. Doesn't that imply that I must therefore be brilliant from here to Eternity?
As you can see, ball gagging my inner editor is an act easier said than done. So I'm turning to the divas for some tips to keep the old gal chained in the basement where she belongs.
Have at it. I really need your help! My muse will thank you in the morning!