This post by Janet Reid could not have come at a better time. I’m really struggling with the writing thing lately. I have been writing for… I don’t know about two (or is it three?) years straight. If I live in the bubble where I only read my writing, it seems good. Solid. And then I read someone else, or an actual published author and I realize how good I am NOT. It’s depressing.
Janet’s post, which links to a post by Ira Glass, completely describes my feeling right now:
“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.
But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit.
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this.
And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
At least I know I have taste? I don’t know. I’m just tired, you know? It’s been a long hard journey of half a million words to just get to “crappy”. Imagine how many words I have to put in to get to “okay”.
I am tired of feeling like a talentless hack. I am tired of opening up this blog and whining about feeling like a talentless hack. I am tired of reading comments from people who only mean the very best, telling me that a lot of writers feel this way and also I am not a talentless hack. I’m just tired.
I don’t feel it, right now. I need a break. So I’m taking it. I’ll be back in June, I hope.
So, I had a bad night last night. Very, very bad. Like, sitting in bed staring at the laptop, sniffling and sobbing, teary twitter updates bad night. And it was all my project’s fault. See, here is the thing. I’m a writer. I have finally admitted to myself that I do this thing called writing. And now that I am well aware that I am a writer, I am looking past just “writing”. Now what I want is to AUTHOR. I want to write a book. Not a book that I finish and smile at and put away. Not a book that is so amateur that I have to self publish because YE GODZ, lady, no one is going to publish that drivel. I want to author a book and then edit the crap out of it and rewrite it and edit the crap out of THAT and send it to 184 agents and have ONE say “yeah I think we can make this work” and have that agent send it to 45 publishing companies and have one of THEM say, “Yeah, we definitely want to publish this” and have my book be available at frikken Barnes & Noble where my mother– who lives on the other side of the country– can go visit a bookstore with her best girlfriend and stand there and stare at it and cry in the middle of the store and be all proud and stuff. That. I want that. But the thing is? I’m not really sure I have that kind of talent.
Today at DIYMFA, we are discussing our writing rituals, or those habits we subconciously fall into in order to get in the mood for writing. Rituals remind me of when a dog goes to lay down. They primp and pace, sniff around, then turn three times and flop down in their favorite spot… every time. It’s not unlike the ritual of a writer, except I don’t do any sniffing around. The reason our rituals or habits are important is because it tells our minds and our muses that it’s time to get down to business. So, let’s chat about our habits and rituals. What are yours? Share in the comments!
It is my greatest honor to share this poem with others.
Welcome to another Six Sentence Sunday, a project that even YOU- yes YOU, unpublished, fledgling, wannabe, aspiring writer can participate in! Got a blog and at least six sentences? Sign up HERE and share them each Sunday! I skipped last week because I didn’t want to join in again until I had something to share from the new project. I hesitate to call it a novel because if I do, then I get all overwhelmed and stop working on it. That said, I have some sentences from said new project. In this scene, Maxine, a buxom, attractive, but terribly vain and overly self confident woman is stewing over a man she wants, but seems to be hopelessly attracted to her less attractive, more homely, girl-next-door friend. I love this scene because I can almost see her pouting and stomping her feet in a childish fit: Maxine plunked her debit card onto the counter and slid it toward Ruby, not even listening to what the old lady was mumbling about. Her mind was consumed with Malcolm. How had Renee managed to get an invite to dinner? And why had he seemed so happy to be sitting with her? And why hadn’t he shown the least bit of interest towards Maxine? She was irresistible—many, many men told her so. That’s it for this Sunday! Please check out the other entries at or via the hashtag #sundaysix or #sixsunday on twitter.
Hello, fellow writers. It has been a LONG day. I did a little shopping (read: I went to Target for Charmin and spent $37) and attended my first Writer’s Club meeting, which was very exciting because we had a guest speaker today: Ms. Bernice McFadden, author of Sugar, Glorious, Nowhere is a Place and 9 other novels. I read Sugar in 2009 and STILL tell everyone to read it when they ask me about great books. I posted my review of Sugar here. Our meeting started with a 5 minute grammar lesson by English teacher Mary Grace Schaap on Passive Voice and when to use it. The lesson was really instrumental, because I can count on two hands how many times I’ve read advice to avoid it. However, Ms Schaap showed us how using Passive Voice adds a little style and mystery to your writing, no matter the genre. Most often, it is used when you want to hide certain details. Verbs can either be active or passive. In active voice, the verb is said to do or be. It is direct. In passive voice, the object is acted upon. The effect is wordy and the sentence lacks spice but is most useful when the attention belongs on the person or thing being acted upon, and not the action itself or when the do-er is unimportant. In fact, the do-er can in many cases be left off of the end of the sentence, especially if you’re suing a ‘by’ as in the policy was approved by the committee. It’s just superfluous words. Crime novels and journalists use Passive Voice: The missing child was found a mile from her home The jewels were stolen in broad daylight Mistakes were made Genres like poetry use Passive Voice beautifully: Soothed by the Sea Rocked by waves The key, said Ms Schaap, is to know WHY you’re using Passive Voice. Recognize the effect or style that you want to put into your piece and you’ll stand up to any proofreader […]
Yesterday’s DIYMFA exercise was our usual Saturday Sprint, but after a very stressful week rife with personal issues, I spent my Saturday sleeping and generally lazing about. It was much needed rest, but I didn’t get anything done in the way of writing. I did a lot of thinking, but thinking isn’t writing. I did my Sprint today, answering the following questions: Character name: I decided to go with a new character, Maxine Donovan. She is every selfish, pretentious, self absorbed and vain woman you know, times ten. The only relationships she maintains are those of her friendship circle, simply because they have known her for so long that they’re used to her. As she approaches her late 30’s, she is desperately seeking a man to provide the finer things in life for her and to take care of her and will stop at nothing to make this happen– even attempt to steal a man away from a friend who deserves to have someone good in her life.
Uhmmmm. So, yeah. What a week. So here’s the thing. I’ve been writing for awhile and I’m a pantser for the most part, so I sit down and I jot out some stuff that’s in my head (cause it’s been writing itself for awhile) and then I get to a certain point and plot out the rest so that I’m not writing into oblivion. I write and I write and then I cut and I edit and primp and then contemplate and meander and what I like to call marinate. And then I edit and reword and send it off to brutal, vicious crit partners (not really, they are the sweetest, ever, unless you don’t make sense in a bit of dialog and then I get “???? I don’t get it???” and I’m all *scoff* ! “I get it!”) and theeennnn once I get it back I make recommended changes and then whew I am done. Post on the fiction archive and wait for the accolades to roll in. I mean, that’s how it was before. You know, pre- Really Serious Original Writing Project Time For Serious. Now I am trying to plan. I am trying to develop. I am trying to create fully rounded 3 dimensional characters with stories of their own. I’m trying to plot out a story and think of the important pieces and the lessons that have to be learned and the milestones that have to be uncovered. I’m writing ON PURPOSE. Uhmmmm…..Ya know what? Please tell me you remember the Vancome Lady from MADTV?! This. is. hard. I swear, the few words I’ve written this week during our study of character for DIY MFA have been harder than the 8,000 word chapters I bang out for fanfiction. Making stuff up on the fly is real easy for me. THINKING ABOUT IT is hard. Planning and interweaving and creating a puzzle out is more difficult. Definitely gaining a lot of respect for the process. So I […]
Another way to get to know our characters (a way I love) it to interview them. This sort of feels… schizophrenic, but it’s cool how the answers just come out. Same character… let’s see how she feels about some things:
This lesson encourages the development of a character through asking and answer questions. Homework: Use this technique for one of your existing characters or create a new one. Now write a short scene with that character, where at least three of these details are revealed. This can be something completely new or an extension of a piece you’re already writing. I’m using a character that I invented for my new project– her name is Renee Glenwood and she owns a neighborhood bookstore. She’s mousy and quiet, more old fashioned than next-generation, but she’s pretty and funny without really knowing (or appreciating) these qualities about herself. The 20 Questions are: Male / Female Old soul / Young at heart Left brain / Right brain Glass half-empty / Glass half-full City / Country Big spender / Penny pincher Loves water / Can’t swim Glasses / Tattoo Dogs / Cats Hybrid car / SUV Bites nails / Always manicured Chocolate syrup / Hot sauce Coffee / Tea Overgrown garden / Plastic plants Always tells the truth / Lies when necessary Organic food / Fast food Straight hair / Curly hair Soft-spoken / Loudmouth PBS / Reality TV Motto: “Do or die” / “Look before you leap” I am supposed to write a scene including the above attributes… I will post that when I finish it. I need to find some way to weave all of these details together…