Not Writing to Talk About Writing- An Introduction
I was chatting with a friend about marketing, and he gave me the list of what I needed to do to be taken seriously as a writer this day in age, and “blogging is where you start”.
I think I said something like, “fuck.”
I’ve written my whole life. I was born a story teller, and it is all that I have ever wanted out of my life - to entertain through story telling and if I’m lucky, leave my audience with a sense of satisfaction in exchange for their time.
I was raised in a house where there was zero tolerance policy for starving artists, and while I always received positive reinforcement for my art, my parents (being the practical capitalists that they are) insisted that I focus on a back-up plan to pay my bills. I became a paramedic. I chose this path for many reasons, but to be honest, mainly for three:
1. Long hours, but also lots of PTO that would afford me uninterrupted time to write (oh befool to me!)
2. A gold mine of stories and characters
3. I excel in high stress situations, and found that I get high off of keeping people alive.
I didn’t take into account what this line of work would do to my physical or emotional being, and in time, my back-up plan became my first-line plan, and I quit taking myself seriously as a writer, although I never stopped writing.
On my thirty-fifth birthday, I was sitting alone in a hotel room, going through an outline for a lecture called, ‘You’re So Hormonal – Endocrine Emergencies’, that I was giving at a conference the next day, and I had my Jerry Maguire moment. I hated my life. I hadn’t made a good choice (including what I named that lecture), or even any choice that brought pleasure or joy into my life since I forced myself down a path that I knew was wrong. Each step I had taken over the previous ten plus years, had only been taken to keep moving, but toward a destination I had no desire to be in. No aspect of my life was working for me. I was professionally apathetic, romantically despondent and been living without plumbing in rural Alaska for five years. I was done.
After a few tumultuous months of setting boundaries and even ending relationships based on this choice, I began a new life. So here I am in the early stages the journey and I’m loving almost every moment of it. My only regret was not moving sooner.
As I stated above, I was given the marketing advice to start building my “digital empire” and blogging was now an expected part of that.
“What do I blog about?”
“Well, writing if you’re a writer,” he said with a shrug as though it was obvious.
So I went into research mode, and sure enough, every writer who I started following on Twitter (was also told I also had to join up into that shit-show) was blogging about writing, and tweeting about writing. There are hashtags flying around that I have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about, acronyms that I’m Googling, and cliques that I’ve no desire to be a part of.
I get that networking is part of the game, but that wasn’t how I survived high school, which is exactly what Twitter reminds me of: A party a friend drug me to so she could screw a hockey player, and I could be bored observing girls showing their cleavage and pretending to be crass while guys make dick jokes and brag about the frequency they get laid. It isn’t that I’m too cool, quite the opposite- I just don’t fucking care. I'd rather be writing.
Instead of being able to engage a community on an intellectual level, I’m forced to make sure my profile picture is attractive enough to lure in a following, and that I’m tweeting out enough wit to keep people engaged every day, and I’m sucking at it. Have you been on Twitter? I can't believe some of the shit that people get 'likes' on, and even the writers that I respect on there tweet and retweet the dumbest shit. Some of it's funny, but it's well below the thirty percent mark.
There is the occasional gem, and the access to talented writers that are using it as a platform that I would not have known about or known how to access. It isn’t all bad, but I can’t imagine that’s the only way to get this shit going. Hard work, consistency, a functional middle finger and a smile is what I’m using now and I’ll let you know how it goes.
Back to the actual craft, I have nothing new to add on the topic itself.
I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. I have always been able to slip right into to where I left off or begin anew. I may get hung up on the perfect name, or the right word, and the occasional plot point, but I’ve never stared at a blank page or screen and not known where to go. I push through the hang-ups and make a note to come back to it later.
I too have begun to amass my fair share of rejection letters and only hear the lonesome sound of crickets from agents who won’t even reply, but I’m not discouraged because this feels like where I need to be. I’ll get there.
I won’t bitch about getting criticism, because I welcome it, genuinely. I am not a perfect person, and my stories being a product of my design can’t be expected to be immediate perfection. My ‘first draft’ grammar sucks. Period. When I go back for my first read through, I usually prepare for a laugh, because it’s hilarious how awful it is. But I make the changes and make it better. Through feedback from others, it gets even better and maybe even to its best.
What could I add to an already overflowing well of information? There are people out there with far more experience and doling out way better advice than I could possible give.
“Write about the process.”
No. The story of my process is mine, and much like the high I get from slamming drugs into other people, for me, writing is the ultimate dragon to chase. I feel a rush of excitement and peace that I have never found anywhere else. Not in the heart of the Pacific, the arms of a lover or even in my favorite place – the shower.
Also, and this may be me being too literal, but how much can be said about clicking in X amount words a day on my keyboard? I average anywhere from one to four-thousand words a day, depending on whether or not I let my life get in the way of it. I have my routines, my irritations in the process, but I have nothing to say about the craft that you can’t get from someone else.
So, for now anyway, don’t expect more than the nod of commiseration at those who say it louder, better and occasionally funnier, and I’ll stick to what I know I can do – tell a story.