Thursday, September 18, 2014


I really enjoy writing.
I do.

But I have been struggling with it. Struggling with what to do with my writing. I'm goal-ish that way.

I like to play with words and ideas. I want to make people laugh and make them pause for a second and think about life from a different perspective. Writing just for the pleasure of playing with words or exploring my own philosophies seems rather self-indulgent.

I feel like I should be working on something BIG; bigger than this blog and my hen-scratched journals and haikus. Something published on real paper. Something that might be read by people other than those who see my FaceBook links or "follow" me.

Why is that?

Is it a holdover from my Type-A past? Do I need to legitimize my existence? Do I feel guilty about not earning my keep at the moment? All of the above?

Do artists feel this way? Like they need to sell a painting in order to be "real" artists?

Do other writers feel this way? Like they have to prove something that can only be proven by being published?

I see so much published writing that is dreck. And yet. It was published. Some editor, somewhere, saw value in it.

I've been stuck. I want to write a novel, but I can't seem to get the plot worked out. I didn't see a way to start until I knew where it was going, so I was thinking but not writing. And notwriting was making me a wee bit crazy.

Finally, I just started. I started with a main character. I'm making her someone I'd want to be friends with. I'm trusting the process: that as I get to know her, interesting things will happen. It will unfold.

But I'm worried. What if it's shitty? What if I write and write and end up with a novel that sucks? What if nobody wants to read it? What if my friends and family read it and they are embarrassed to tell me how bad it is?

Will they love me anyway?


  1. Good or bad, your talent as a writer has nothing to do with your lovability.

    (Remind me of that when I need to hear it, okay)?

    P.S. Your book won't suck. Congrats for you for starting it!

  2. It sounds like you have a good start--a main character, and probably some complications to throw in. I think writing it is very much a first step, though. I wrote about 60,000 words or so a few years ago for National Novel Writing Month. I loved writing it, but it did suck (mostly). Nobody wanted to read it (although my dad did, Sarah read a few chapters, and I sent some of it to a friend—an excellent writer—who never got back to me). What I mostly heard was that I knew how to write--the whole thing sounded novel-like--but didn't really have a good grasp of a conflict. I started rewriting, adding one conflict and taking out a weak one. I stopped working on the rewrite a year ago, though, due to time constraints (which are such that I started writing this comment 18 hours ago and am just finishing it).

    You are a good writer, and you should definitely go for it. Writing it is a first step, though. The main thing, after talent, is devoting time to writing and rewriting. If you do that, you should be in good shape. And I’d be happy to read a draft once you come up with one.

  3. I know what you're talking about--as someone who's recently decided to float a few pieces to publications and then await rejection. Never before has it even occurred to me to submit something, but this month, I have a bug about it; I just want to see if it can happen.

    That admitted, I also have to note that chasing publication as validation doesn't strike me as a good dream to have, as what gets published (dreck, indeed) lets us know that there is much whimsy in the process of deciding what makes the cut. For me, I write because I love to write. Yes, it's more fun when there's an audience, absolutely. But it needs to be about enjoying the process and product and not needing strangers to confirm something for me.

    I can't recall if you ever read Minnesota Matron's blog; she's largely stopped now, but she's part of an unfolding story: decades ago, she had a literary agent in NYC, a book deal, and got a memoir published. Then she wrote a second book, and the agent dropped her, the book never got published, and she ended up raising kids and now teaching English. Her son, now a freshman in college, took that unpublished book last year, made it look nice, found a cover image, and went through the self-publishing process, ultimately surprising his mom with the finished book. Now she's been doing readings and sales around the Twin Cities...and the Mpls paper did a story on the mother/son story, and then last week the Today show picked it up for their website and "scroll" during the show...and then last weekend she got a call from the Today show with bigger things seemingly in the works. So there we see a dream unfolding that MM didn't even know how to have.

    I know other bloggers who have self-published, too, most notably Diesel (Rob Kroese) who used to work for Google. He quit and started writing novels full-time and self-publishing them. In the last few years, he's sold something like, oh gosh, I think more than 100,000 copies of his various books.

    I'm rambling now, but my point is this: write for YOU, don't look to publishing as an affirmation of anything, and consider self-publishing.

    Is it possible Jocelyn needs a cocktail now?