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My Writing “Problem”

Photo credit: Nanagyei via photopin cc

Photo credit: Nanagyei via photopin cc

I suppose the impending apology / explanation for my near seven-month absence from The Gooseyard isn’t going to write itself, so I might as well get it out of the way once and for all. In fact, I’ve already broached it somewhat over at my “de-clutter” blog, Project One for the Win:

The truth is I took a little break from writing, which turned into a long break from writing. Like most of us who write, I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with the process and I suppose the pendulum has been swinging along the “hate” arc of late. Well, maybe not “hate” exactly, but sometimes you feel like you’re just not getting a sufficient return on your authorial investment. Y’know?

You just get weary sometimes. You’re sure you have a book — or two or three or eleven — in you (which, in fact, you should probably be working on now instead of continually feeding the thankless, insatiable blogosphere). And you know you’d have the will-power / confidence / energy to complete these literary masterpieces if only you had the luxury of being a full-time writer. But you’re already a full-time something else, and, in many cases, a full-time parent (or some other type of care-giver), housekeeper, Man / Woman Friday, etc., as well. Time — or, more accurately, perhaps, the lack of energy associated with having to expend so much time elsewhere — is your nemesis. But time itself? Well, as the irreverent, onanistically-minded Chuck Wendig points out in a recent post, Stupid Answers to Common Writing Questions, time doesn’t much give a shit:

How do I find the time to write? You do not find the time to write. You make it. You snatch it from the jaws of whatever temporal beast has your minutes and hours clamped between its gnarly teeth. We all fight for our time, whether it’s time for a meal, time for a TV show, time to mow the lawn, time to masturbate wantonly on the neighbor’s front porch so that their cat can watch you from the family room window. Time is not a lost set of car keys. It’s not extra money you find in a pants pocket just before you wash them. Time is a thing for which you fight. And if you want to write, you need to fight for the time to accomplish that task. Because time doesn’t care about you. It keeps on keeping on until you’re mulch for the fucking marigolds. Seize it. Or don’t. It doesn’t care.

Still, I would argue, time is only a symptom of the larger problem. More than time, what a writer really needs (OK, what I really need, ‘cause, if you haven’t figured it out by now, these blogs are really all about me) is discipline. Time can’t generate discipline after all, but discipline can generate time. And here I find myself wishing for the millionth time that I could actually muster enough discipline to write, instead of simply writing about writing. But at least I recognize I’m falling short. That’s a start, right?

Writing’s easy (it’s just putting words together). So is dieting (eating fewer calories than you expend). And quitting smoking (not lighting up). And staying out of debt (spending less than you earn). None of this — intellectually, computationally — is rocket science. It’s straight-forward action / reaction stuff. The difficult part of the process — and this is what keeps the self-help industry raking in obscene amounts of money year after year — isn’t in acquiring the knowledge of what has to be done, but exerting the will-power and discipline to, well (sorry Nike), “Just do it.” But you can’t order discipline on-line from amazon.com. I checked.

I mean, c’mon. How many pity-the-poor-writer posts like this have I issued from The Gooseyard? Most? Probably. When it comes right down to it, I’m really not sure to what extent the Internet has actually succeeded in liberating aspiring writers. What I think it has done, instead, is give wannabe writers a forum in which to while away the hours writing about writing without actually following through on the type of original, creative projects they’ve always dreamed of pursuing. Then they — OK, “we” — dole out all this psuedo-writing (yes, just like I’m doing now — the irony is not lost on me!) to all the other non-writing writers clogging cyberspace, gaining just enough “Followers” and “Likes” along the way to keep us motivated to pen our next self-indulgent missive. Instant gratification. Why does the phrase “circle jerk” come to mind?

Yikes, that got a little dark, didn’t it? Sorry. I guess I probably need more “Followers” to bolster my fragile ego. Either that or I might actually have to start writing something other than a blog to get my fix — though that seems like waaaay more work. As usual, where writers — pseudo or otherwise — are concerned, Wendig strips the emperor bare:

Uh, hello, please to meet every writer ever. We’re all fucking headcases. We all hit a point in every piece of work where we hate it, hate ourselves, hate publishing, hate the very nature of words (“Marriage? What a stupid word what’s that goddamn little ‘i’ doing in there FUCK THIS HOO-HA LANGUAGE IS STUPID I QUIT”). We all bang our heads against our own presumed inadequacies and uncertainties. Writing and storytelling isn’t a math problem with a guaranteed solution. It’s threading a needle inside our heart with an invisible string strung with dreams and nightmares. We are afforded zero guarantees. [Failing Versus Quitting (Or, “Your Lack of Confidence Is Neither Interesting or Unique”)]

Two blogs in, after more than a half a year hiatus, and already I’m starting to implode. But I don’t think I’m necessarily being unfair. Do you?

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4 Comments

  1. If life isn’t complicated enough about writing, then this comes along:

    http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/02/people-dont-read-what-they-share-social-media.html

    More than ever a disciplined writer will have to swim through all the social media and blogs to finally plant their blog-flag on an island where others go to spend their short vacation time on the internet.

    I totally agree that it sounds easy.

    • Philster999 says:

      I dunno. I still think most of us are putting the let’s-market-the-crap-out-of-our-writerly-intentions cart before the proverbial, far less complicated horse. Why not forget about a huge time investment in social media and blogging, in anticipation of needing a platform from which to flog our new literary masterpiece, and see if we can actually choke out the literary masterpiece first. I’m just sayin’…

      Plus, I’m not sure what to make out of that Small Biz Trends link you included. Are you trying to tell me that you did or did not finish my blog before “Liking” it? (LOL).

  2. bronxboy55 says:

    Sounds as though the self-publishing stigma is still clinging to life. Every respected writer dispenses the same advice: “Writers write.” It’s become its own cliche. Beneath the wisdom, though, lurks a kind of prejudice — that somehow it’s better to write books that nobody reads than a blog that has loyal followers. I think we need to remove commercial success and public acclaim from the equation. Van Gogh never sold a painting while he was alive. Now he’s the subject of university courses.

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