So we’ve all heard me blather on about wanting to be a writer, but this is too hard or that’s in my way, or don’t blame me, I’ve fallen out of the groove… yada yada yada…
Even I’m bored of it.
But…um—yup. Looks like I’m going to talk about it anyway.
The thing is, I’ve wanted to write books for as far back as I can remember… The only other career I can remember wanting is when I was seven and convinced that the dazzling realm of dentistry was the only place I could ever be happy. (Let’s be real. That one came from a deeply seeded, goody-two-shoes nature that had me insisting I enjoyed going to the dentist thankyouverymuch…and really, on visits that culminated with lack-of-cavity-praise, how could one not?)
Ever since then, though, it’s been all about being a writer. And as I’ve lamented many-a-time to you all… it’s well, sort of difficult. It takes confidence, patience, initiative, and drive in so many bucket loads that I have often felt, a bit stupidly, that I’ve been hard done by. It’s silly of course, since it’s a choice I’ve made. Nevertheless, I often find myself thinking it, even though I try not to let on. (Except for when I’m blogging for a bunch of strangers, yeah?)
What’s often overlooked when people turn their judgy eyes on the writing profession is that for weeks, months, years before anything can come of anything… writers rely entirely on themselves. All that confidence, patience, initiative and drive? They have to muster that up all on their own, independent of external forces because if they don’t then, well, nothing will happen. There is no one to fall back on. They don’t have a boss to answer to, and no sympathy is driven from not being able to create anything…no helping hand is ever leant.
And, I guess it really SHOULD be that way. It’s just kind of shitty sometimes. And lonely.
That’s why this article I found yesterday felt like a gift from some dazzling, all-powerful God of creativity…
It’s called Don’t Ask What I’m Writing by Mark Slouka, and published on the New York Times Opinionator Blog.
Take a look at it here.
This is my favourite part:
“No stage of the writing process […] is as fraught for writers as those first few months of uncertainty: that miserable time when we think, believe, know with absolute assurance that we’ve found the key to the novel in our heads, though maybe, probably, definitely not.”
Seriously. I feel like this is my entire life. Right here in a single, lengthy sentence.
The most significant problem for writers, Slouka says, is that they are nearly incapable of avoiding the lure of potential validation when a friend asks to hear what their book is about.
Um, yes. Sometimes I feel like sometimes my brain is a nothing but a tangled web of nonsensical characters and misplaced dialogue existing in worlds they have no business in—and just like the article suggests, all I want is someone to pat me on my head and say, this is great…keep at it. Consider me your own personal cheerleader.
That’s not too much to ask, right?
According to the article, what almost inevitably follows is the disheartening process of an insecure writer describing a story aloud before its ready—a time when it exists only as blurry, half-envisioned chaos in the corners of a single imagination. Above the fumbled, insecure account of a half-story, Slouka writes, is the sound of “the magic leaking out of the balloon”.
The last time I had a story idea I was remotely excited about was nearly nine months ago, and in hindsight (namely, after reading this particularly insightful article), I can pinpoint the EXACT moment I let the magic out of its carefully crafted case. I can remember exactly where I was, exactly who I told, and if I dig back far enough… I can even hear the fumbling remnants of my disastrous attempt at once upon a time.
I guess what was refreshing about this article, is that it made me realize what I was doing to myself. My fret-inclined brain had allowed I’m-a-terrible-writer syndrome to seep inside of me ages ago, and I desperately kept it a secret because, well, most people think I’m crazy to want to be a writer anyway.
The thing is, I never stopped to think that other writers might be going through the exact same thing. And that actually feels pretty amazing. (Is it normal to wish agonizing amounts of insecurity, wish-washiness, and multiple personalities onto other people? …Welp, I did it anyway. Deal with it).
And finally, it reminded me of the most important rule that I shall never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be stupid enough to break again, so help me dazzling, all-powerful God of creativity…
NEVER tell ANYONE what it’s about before it’s ready to be told.
I hope you writers out there can glean as much hope as I did from reading this article, and any other artistic types as well.
In the famous words of my buddy, Darren Criss: Baby, you’re not alone.
(Just from that single sentence above, I’m sure you’re all overcome with the understanding of why I should be a writer… because of gems like THAT).
Anyway, that’s it, that’s all, artsies!
Special shout-out to one of my oldest and dearest for sending that article my way!
Have a spectacular day all, and feel free to jot a comment below if you’ve ever had this particular kind of writing-crazy… I want to hear about it!
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