Brave New Writer? (First Draft)

Chapter Two has started out less efficiently than I expected. It’s been 3 weeks and I don’t have a job, my closets are a mess and my triceps are still drapey sacks of useless flesh. But I’ve been having fun going out for lunch, drinking coffee, browsing at the bookstore, and playing a lot of bridge. Yes, bridge. I know, right? I’ll cover bridge another time — I’ll need time to cover it.

Anyhoo, while I’ve been messing around living a temporary (and financially deprived) life of suburban leisure, I haven’t stopped thinking about what I need to do next. Do I make money with a marketing job and start repaying the enormous debt caused by my time “off-ramp,” or do I get honest and pursue what I’ve secretly always wanted to do? Do I try and write?

I’ve been through the whole “do what you love, love what you do” argument. I’ve considered the now-or-never timing ever since my age rudely shoved me into the middle (God willing) of my life. I’ve analyzed the lifestyle issues:self-discipline, time management, low pay, even the loneliness. I’m pretty good with most of it.

What I’m not good with is the emotional part. You don’t have to read very deep in this blog to grasp my desperate need for approval. I can make myself sick waiting for a little validation or encouragement. The first hour after I hit “publish” is dicey. I’ve gone back and hit “delete post” on at least three separate occassions.

It’s not that I need ego stoking, well okay, it is — but not because my ego is so big it needs to be fed. Rather, it’s because my ego is such a pussy. Someone could walk by and take it out with just a funny look.

I’ve loved to write since I was a kid. My parents divorced when I was young, and we moved around a lot. Stories kept me company. I’ve written in a journal since I was nine. Anyone who writes knows what this is like: I have to write. It keeps me quiet, grounded and fortified.

Recently I’ve been reading what other writers have written about writing. The one thing each one (Stephen King, Sol Stein, Anne Lammot, Betsy Lerner, my Uncle Fred) has said is that a writer has to be brave. She needs to write honestly. She can’t be afraid of what others say. This is the only way to possibly be good.

See the problem here? I want approval, but the only way for me to get approval is to not want approval. This is the point when I moan, define myself as woe and seek refuge in my anonymous blog.

But the blog is not as safe anymore because in deciding to test my bravery, I outed myself. I gave this URL to someone in Jcrewville I know who is ridiculously well-read and masterfully critical. She is intelligent and knows everyone, I mean EVERYone, in town. This could give her power over my sorry, little, writer-wannabe soul. But I am brave (while furiously checking stats).

It’s been three days and I’ve gotten nothing. I figure either a) she already found out about the blog and read it a while ago, or b) is not interested, or c) both. So this is the point when I say: so what. So whaaaaat! And I hit “publish” and leave the house for a pumpkin latte because whether I suck or not, I want to write –and my triceps will always be drapey sacks of useless flesh.

12 thoughts on “Brave New Writer? (First Draft)

  1. As seen on my son’s physical therapist’s office wall today: “In the end, the only ones who fail are those who don’t try.” (or something very similar to that). I was wondering why I took note of that.

    See, it was a sign – literally, right?

  2. I found that once I actually opened my blog up to the public by commenting on other blogs and such, I became much more concerned about writing a good post and getting comments back. I’d like to say that this has improved over time, but alas, it has not. I wrote what I thought was an awesome post the other day…and my response was equivalent to chirping crickets. Still, I do feel like having that unseen net audience pushes me to try to write often and writing often is proven to improve one’s writing.
    And like the other commenter said, you are guaranteed to fail to meet your dream if you never try.

    Sorry the crickets were chirping. I’ve heard them, too. Now that I know this, I’ll be commenting more.

  3. I can’t believe you are even asking yourself this question. OF COURSE (!!!) you try and write! You are a beautiful writer. And remember what you told me? You said I should pursue my dreams NOW while I don’t have kids. I know you still have kids, but you have more time, right?! It’s like a second chance! If you never try…. well, I know I’m supposed to say something life-altering here, but all I can come up with is… If you never try, I’m going to be pissed. Even more than I am at my own “drapey sacks of useless flesh.”

    I think I love you.

  4. So far, chapter two still seems to be setting up the conflict. That’s okay; many of my favorites didn’t really grab me until chapter three or later anyway.
    You know what I think you should do.
    And no, I don’t mean pushups

    Off to read Teresa’s post; I love how reading my favorites leads to reading new favorites. Love. It.

    Thank goodness because push-ups suck. I like what you said about chapter three – i’m looking forward to chapter 3. P.S. In which chapter will I find resolution?

  5. It’s not an either/or. And it shouldn’t be. You keep writing (non-anonymously is brave enough, girl) and see where it takes you. At the same time, cast an eye around and see what’s out there. But writing is a part of you and always will be. Whether you make it your business or not… that’s almost beside the point.

    (Not really. But that sounded encouraging, didn’t it?)

    I’m know Dr. Phil and Suzie Orman would agree with you. But really? That’s just so much work (whine) when will I have time to play bridge?

  6. I think not being afraid of what other people think and say is the way to be a good everything…not just a good writer. It’s definitely easier to advise that than follow, but worth the quest.

    You ARE a good writer.

    Thank you — and congrats, again, on your new job!!

  7. We have very similar stories! 8 years at home will do that to your triceps, regardless of how many kids you may be carrying around! I understand how seductive blog stats and approval are–believe me, I’m there. But at the end of the day, do what pulls at your soul. Go down fighting, doing your best, clicking your keyboard–with no regrets. That’s the best kind of success.

    Thank you and thank you for stopping by.

  8. Writing is what you must do (you said it yourself). You’ve been writing almost all of your life and you’re writing right now. You can’t not write. There’s nothing to decide except: Do you want to write fulltime, part-time or on the side? Actually, your job search will answer this question for you. Start now. When you’re not job hunting, work on something for publication. Go girl!

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