Monday, July 11, 2011

Writers Gonna Write

Growing up, I was a reader. I read every book I could get my hands on as fast as I could, whether they were appropriate for a child my age or not. I graduated college with an English degree, which involved even more reading, some forced and some done willingly, as well as countless nights spent furiously typing analyses of literary motifs and plot points. This would lead one, I assume, to the expectation that I enjoy writing. Well, I don't. At least not while I'm doing it.

The anticipation of what will arise from that blank page in front of you...the thrill of discovering a new character...I have never experienced these phenomena. I see dread and failure and panic staring back at me with their beady little eyes, taunting me with memories of the unfinished documents I have abandoned. Writing can be TEDIOUS. And so, lately, I often find myself avoiding all forms that require more than 140 characters at a time.

When I do feel inspired to write, I tend to get bogged down in the details. I worry about divulging too much of myself or not enough, or being insincere, or coming across as silly. I worry about not having enough to say or that no one will be interested. I can only imagine that every single person who has written anything, from a simple blog entry to a best-selling novel, has experienced these same fears.

I have always viewed writing as some sort of great puzzle. The words fall onto the page and it is my job to find the best fit for them. The fit that will create the most beautiful picture possible out of the rough edges and blurred colors that I began with. The problem with this scenario is that the longer I avoid it, the more pieces I have lying around, just waiting to be placed. So when I do finally decide that I'm going to knock out a paragraph or two, I find myself staring at 5,000,000 jagged little bits of cardboard, with no idea where to begin.

This brings me to THE POINT. The thing that has actually urged me to try and shut off, at least temporarily, the nagging part of my brain that tells me I won't finish this either, so I shouldn't bother. It was something that two actual writers that I respect, people that get paid to do it, said to me and the other 200 people in the audience that paid to hear them speak about writing and comedy and just generally being awesome people.

I am terrible at paraphrasing and have a special talent when it comes to forgetting punchlines to jokes, but the gist of what they said is: If you want to be a freaking writer, you have to write. Compulsively. Obsessively. Maniacally. To the point where it is all you do when you have free time. And then you have to show it to people. And you have to be prepared for them to hate it and want you to change everything about it. And then there was something about divorce, but let's try to ignore that.

This is the part I have struggled with my whole life, as an aspiring People Pleaser Extraordinaire. I don't want to just create something. I want to create something that people enjoy. Something worthy of praise. And this is what has been stopping me. If I don't feel like I have anything worthwhile to say, I don't say it. longer! Look out, world, because I have received professional advice that says when I am in the process of creating, I am not supposed to give a crap what anyone will think of my monstrosity work.

What I'm saying here is, prepare for the worst.

I don't expect that I will ever become a prolific author or even make a single cent from my words, but even with my somewhat limited life experience, I do believe that I have the potential to impress myself with what I can do. So, I am going to write. And by default, as long as I am writing something, I will be a writer.

EDIT: OOOPS, my bad. I forgot to do excuse, just shame.