I just began reading Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See and I finally see, well, not really, as I have just read the opening few pages. Still, read me out. As a writer, you must know when to let go and when to keep going. What do you let go? Work that’s not working. What should keep you going? Writing and never give it up. You should never throw down your pen and cry,
“I hate this!”
And if you hate it, that’s fine. Many others feel the same way. There are times in a writer’s life where they don’t want to sleep, they don’t want to eat; all they want to do is write. Well, write but eat and sleep. It’s essential to living. No one loves a dying writer before their time. Frankly, no one really likes it when anyone dies, period. So don’t die, writer, live on. You may be wondering where this is going so let me explain: Carolyn See describes writing as sort of like a date. Well, a date when someone asks you something like,
“Why do you write?”
And there are many ways to answer this very simple question:
“It heals me.”
“It saves me.”
“It makes me whole.”
“When I write, I’m free.”
“It’s all I can do.”
“I can’t write, only type.”
Those are just a few so you should just come up with one on your own. So maybe everything you write is for someone. If we think about it in the date analogy, everything you write is for that special someone. This special someone could be made up or real. Writers always say that their biggest support has always been their family, their wife, their husband, and their children. So you’re now writing to your future wife or husband. If you think like this, your writing could very well become exceptional.
“Oh Susan, your eyes blossom like pearls in a midnight sky.”
“Oh Susan, I love you.”
Boring, the second one isn’t it? How do you win your lover? You love them in metaphors. Well, it was just a thought.
With anything, you have to be passionate. If the dating analogy doesn’t work for you, then how about that you’re just writing for yourself and others? The others or “readers” as they are referred to as or “editors,” “reviewers,” etc. are your support. If they tell you your story’s crap, it probably is, but it’s best to double check. If you’re thinking, Screw ‘em, then maybe you need to find new friends. People who keep telling you that your work is crap either are completely right or just don’t understand your writing. Welcome to the world of writing, my friend. Unfortunately, we ran out of pens. Some man ran off with them saying he needed them for his stick collection. We tried to tell him that they weren’t sticks, but he wouldn’t listen.
So, like life, writing is hard, frustrating, aggravating, and just downright annoying. When a publisher declines your work, don’t consider yourself a failed writer. Consider why you might have been rejected and think of room for improvement. Is writing your job? Well, then act the part. Put on your best suit and start typing up some brilliant words. Don’t cower in your robe hammering at the keys thinking some good shit will come out of it. There are days when hammering at the keys might produce some good shit out of the bad shit, so you got to play writing day by day. Is today a shitty day or a good one? Write about it. But never think you’re a failure. Write about failure but don’t think it. It’s like any job. If a fireman told you he couldn’t make fires, you might want to let him know that he goes into fires and shouldn’t really be creating them anyway. Same thing with a writer: If a writer says he can’t write, you should jab a finger into his cheek and say,
“Well if you can’t write, then you’re not a writer.”
If you think about it, it makes perfect logical sense. So what’s my message? WRITE! And write anywhere: blackboards, walls, cars, people’s faces, people’s office buildings, bathroom stalls, cubicles, your boss’s tie when he’s looking, your boss’s tie when he’s not looking, your boss’s tie when he’s wearing it, your boss’s tie when he’s not, etc. There are so many places to write so don’t tell me you can’t write. I know you can.