Friday, September 9, 2011

New Writing Spot



While I was waiting for my frozen chicken carcass and a week's worth of vegetable trimmings to cook down into homemade chicken stock (and waiting for a pound of dry garbanzo beans to absorb enough water to be soft enough for a new flavor of hummus), I found myself idly browsing blog posts to my ever increasing list of blogs that I follow. Although the word follow is a bit misleading - I randomly check these blogs when I'm bored or in need of inspiration, but I rarely seem to read every blog post. I'm a slow reader and so it always feels like time wasted.


But I have found myself drifting back to the blog run by Ree Drummond called The Pioneer Woman - it's fraught with tempting pictures of food and all manner of posts, and it's a wee bit addictive. Because they're so much to look at and so much to read. So many, many ways to waste time.

I'm not a fan of Drummond's style of cooking - too many shortcuts and too much random fat added for what seems to be the sake of adding fat - but I'm fascinated with her style of blogging and writing. It's unpretentious and very familiar, as if she's writing without a filter. It feels unedited (although I suspect there is a great deal of editing to accomplish this homey feel).

Anyway, the point is she has inspired me to finally take action and start another blog. Don't shake your head or assume I'm just following some fanciful flight of whimsy - I have been planning to start a new blog for months (actually wanted to start it last year but got swept way in prepping our house for sale), and poking around her blog reminded me that it's time to get serious about my other passion.

Writing fiction.

I went to college for fiction writing and ended up in business because I was too afraid to embrace fiction as a career. Everyone warned me about the likely failure I would discover as a writer. All the professors in my college classes crowed about proper writing technique and character development - and how I just wouldn't make it as a writer without reading all the masterful writers of ages past. And my own parents were utterly relieved when I announced plans to pursue business administration in conjunction with writing so that I wouldn't starve to death as a penniless and unsuccessful writer.

Guess what? I'm done being afraid of writing. I'm done fearing failure. I'm done waiting for inspiration to strike. I'm done listening to all the naysayers and statistic quotes. I'm done. DONE.

I'm good at writing fiction and I have a gift. Yes, that's ego. But without ego and confidence, there's nothing but fear of failure and timid pandering for approval. I know how to write good characters, I understand conflict, and I know how to develop a plot. I'm a perfectionist and I love editing and re-editing my own writing. I'm not afraid of constructive feedback - it only makes me stronger. So why have I been waiting so many years to write? Why did I waste all that money and time on college? Why did I waste all those years in business?

Fear.

So I'm done with fear and today I start writing fiction once again. Thus, I have started a new blog called Warrior Writ to track my progress. It's not about writing - it is writing. I will post warm-up exercises that call doodles, chapters from novels, short stories, character development pieces, and other random bits of writing.

Read it if you like. Email me if you'd like to join as a fellow contributor. Or leave feedback and suggestions on bits that intrigue you. Or skip it all together.

Oddly, this new blog is also about love - in a very round about way. It's about love for who I am and what I have been given. It's about the love for creating characters that will inspire and provoke readers. It's about showing love for my bf who has worked tirelessly to help me realize this opportunity to write. And it's about exploring love through writing, through characters and situations, through conflict.

Goodbye fear. Hello fiction. I've missed you.





2 comments:

  1. I wish you more success with writing than I had. Don't misunderstand: I still enjoy the act of writing. I did a little blogging over the summer with a friend, I write content for my online classes ... even writing tweets and comments and Facebook status updates is pleasant for me; writing down my thoughts in composition is still a satisfying part of my day.

    But I came out of my MFA program very demoralized. While I do think the program made me a better writer, it did nothing to prepare me for the realities of trying to be a professional writer. I was literally told, "Finish your thesis and then get an agent." (My thesis was finished, mind you, but admittedly not honed, though this was the usual way of things.) Well. Sure. Easy as fucking pie.

    I submitted some of my work to journals and it was rejected. At the time I was unemployed, so was my partner, and we were living in a death trap apartment over which we had practically no temperature control. Yes, I got demoralized. I quit. I got a job I hated, I went back to school, I dropped out of school ... I don't really write fiction anymore.

    I'm in a much better place than I was when I exited grad school. My partner has a job, and I have recently found a job with flexible hours that I actually enjoy. I could theoretically return to writing. I did do a little fiction writing for literally the first time in years during my last term in law school before dropping out; I took a class called Persuasive Narrative that assigned three short stories. I enjoyed writing those, though I've lost the ability to tell if they're any good. They were good compared to the work of other students in the class, but that's not a fair comparison - I have an MFA from a prestigious writing program; I'm sure they're better lawyers than I would have been.

    What I find now is that, there's something about writing that has been ruined for me. Whereas, starting in middle school, I felt a COMPULSION to write, a compulsion that pursued me through high school and college, the act of writing is now emotionally fraught for me. I no longer feel as though I have anything to say that must be set down. I found, in completing the assignments for my law school class, that I was able to call up the rusty skills I had learned while acquiring two degrees in Fiction Writing and put them to use, it was more an exercise in ability than need - by this I mean, I possess the skills necessary to write, but I no longer seem to possess the compulsion to tell stories. It got gently beat out of me, it seems.

    This is sad, in its way; I would say that I am a better writer than anything else (though I do think I'm a very good teacher - and a passable cook, ahem). But I'm not sure what to do about it, or if I even want to do something about it.

    None of this has anything to do with your efforts - it just sort of came to mind as I was reading your blog. Anyway, to end as I began, I hope things work out better for you in your endeavors. They probably will: you seem to still have the compulsion to tell stories.

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  2. I found college drove me away from writing because I felt this tremendous pressure to perform and to write what the professors were looking for. Which was drivel. Drivel that every other student was writing. Drivel that didn't help hone me as a write. As you said, it demoralized me. It left me feeling incapable and quite frankly, worthless as a writer.

    But I have memories, STRONG memories, of writing powerful and successful stories in high school. In fact, i think I was a stronger writer then than I am now. And the reason is because I was free to write what I wanted without the constraints of having to earn a grade or develop a literary masterpiece.

    I believe writing is a skill that is honed but also grows organically. Kind of like a plant. It needs the right atmosphere, the right climate, food of sorts, and time to flower. Constant pruning, picking, and cutting results in a terribly spindly plant that can't survive.

    At least that's the image that comes to mind when I think about writing. College stifled me and I chaffed. When I was working full time, I couldn't focus or give my mind a chance to be creative and drift. Time to flower.

    Now I have a room just for my writing. I have a desk just for writing. I have a lamp. I have a stereo. I have a futon for relaxing. The atmosphere is right. So I'm going to try exercising a little bit at a time. We'll see what sprouts up.

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