Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The World Keeps On Spinning

I was just doing a bit of blog-surfing (a habit that has slipped significantly), just checking up on people, sniffing around.

I got on Jaye's blog and watched the first half hour of her little interview thingy. 1. I feel cool just knowing her. 2. She seems like the kind of person you want to chat into the AM hours with. 3. I realized just how little I know about the process of getting published.

Then I went to Jamie's blog where he talked about the Squaw Valley conference and how he's come full circle in three short years. 1. I feel cool just knowing him. 2. He just might be the best thing that's ever come out of Montana? 3. I realized that he's right, the world does keep on spinning. Whether you've become a NYT Best-selling author or if you've stumbled back however many baby steps you may have taken into the writing world.

I entered Jason's contest last month. Writing that piece was stiff and uncomfortable for me, but I entered it anyway because I had encouraged my sister-in-law to enter and didn't want to be a hypocrite. I didn't score tremendously well, but wasn't bothered by it. In the end I was pleased with the concept even if my execution was lacking.

I think I'm rambling, but I'm also unconcerned about that because I think I'm only getting readers by accident these days anyway.

I have always wanted to be a writer. I have always wanted to be published, not because I want to be famous or have money. I'm not that delusional.

I want to be a writer because I love books. I can imagine nothing more thrilling than looking at the spine of a book, fresh and smelling of the press, and seeing my name on it. Because that means a part of me, my ideas, my words, will be seen, be read, be hated or loved, but most of all, be known.

I've been trying to take a realistic look at my writing. I'm not doing a lot these days. This makes me sad. I could take the easy way out and say that having three small children has got me so bogged down I just don't have time. That would be convenient, but untrue.

I think I've stopped believing in myself. Or something. I'm trying to be honest with myself, but honestly assessing ones own skills and abilities is tricky business. We are all our own worst critics. But I would hate to be the writing equivalent of those poor souls on American Idol who really actually think they can sing and it's clear to everyone with ears that they can't.

I think I've discovered something about myself. With a lot of practice and lot of focus I think I can be a good writer. Good enough to get published? Who knows. That's always a gamble.


I don't know if I'm a very good story-teller. I've had this one book idea circling my head like a vulture for two years and I've been waiting for the plot to pounce. I have the world in my mind. The characters. The basic story arc. It's the details I lack. What should happen in each scene. How the conflict plays out. I'm at a point where I think if I haven't been able to figure it out yet then how can I honestly expect to make it in the writing world?

I'm not writing here for encouragement. I'm just writing what I'm feeling.

At least it feels good to watch my fingers on the keyboard. To hear the click of the keys. If nothing else, I can keep writing for that.


Aimee Laine said...

If it helps ... I have found that my saying it out loud (and that includes writing it) I can let it go, get past it and get down to what's important. (I think this is in many of those self-help books I never read except for the cover where it's in bold text at the top). ;)

So, if you want to be a published, say it! Write and write and write! :)

Now that it's been said, you will be what you want to be! :)

Hoodie said...

Hi Aimee -
I think you're right. It's not a dream I feel like I can give up on. It is kind of on the back-burner for now but to everything there is a season...

I do want to make sure I keep the writing habit up, however. I need to squeeze in some honest creativity every day, even if it's just for a moment here and there.

Beth said...

I always found you to be a great storyteller during Jason's contests. I always looked for you.

I really think sometimes some of the worst talent gets published. I really don't think the best gets the kudos or gets noticed or gets an agent. I truly don't.

I think those who persist get those things. If you want it, persist ... and you're good, so it won't be a bad thing for the writing community.

For me, I've been working like a dog and trying to keep www. thriftybif.com going. Please, subscribe by e-mail. Tell you friends. lol

Hoodie said...

Beth - I'll be there.
Is Bif a nickname? :)
Thanks for the encouragement.
I will keep trying.
It's comforting to know I've got a long time to improve.

Sarah Hina said...

I have been reading your posts through a feed, Hoodie, but I'm sorry I haven't commented in awhile.

I will say this without a trace of b.s.: your piece for Jason's contest was one of my favorites. I will be honest and say that I've forgotten the details (of pretty much all of them, because that's the way my memory is, and I wasn't commenting on them, which didn't help). But I remember thinking, "She really nailed this one." For whatever that's worth.

You do have an excuse. Having three kids, one of which is still a baby, is incredibly exhausting and time-consuming. It doesn't leave much in the way for inspiration. Thoughts get muddy. The desire lives, but the execution feels out of reach.

But. It might just be the time to plunge into that novel. In the small increments of energy and time that you have. Otherwise, the malaise and the insecurities will sink their teeth in and become permanent.

Are you the type of person who feels like you need everything planned out in advance? Maybe if you just started writing, the details would flesh themselves out. I don't consider myself strong on plot, either. But if you take it one step at a time, it feels more manageable. Less overwhelming. It's a matter of connecting those dots, those scenes.

Or, you could just keep putting up posts here. And writing shorter pieces of fiction. That might be just the thing to make you feel confident in yourself again. And happy.

I believe in you. You're a really good writer who has something to say.

And I hope your kids are all doing well, too. :)

Hoodie said...

Oh Sarah-

I'm going to come right out and admit that your words brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes you just need a win, ya know? And getting sincere, unexpected praise from someone you greatly admire is definitely a win.

I feel cool just knowing you. :)

For your "She nailed it," thought, it's worth quite a bit.

And it's one thing to have your husband and friends say they believe in you and quite another to have a successful, talented peer say it.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Your words are enough to keep the malaise at bay. Bless.

Sarah Hina said...

Big hugs, my friend. I'm equally touched to know that my words meant something to you.

And I meant every one of them. :)

Liane Spicer said...

I haven't read much of your writing apart from the odd blog post here and there, but I like what I see. You have a way of conveying emotional nuances that I admire, and I also admire your honesty. I think honesty is an important element in good writing - the reader recognizes when the words come from the heart and this touches a responsive chord. I know it happens to me when I read your posts.

Having three small children is not an excuse - it's a hell of a reason. I admire you for even being focused enough to think about the creative part of you. I'm not b-s-ing you either. Just don't be hard on yourself, and don't give up on your writing, even if you can't make it happen right away or even in the near future. (The gap between first draft of my first novel and the publishing date? Eleven years. Shh. Don't tell anyone. Sometimes I didn't look at it for years at a time, depending on what was going on in my life.)

Do what you can and be gentle with yourself. As for the self-confidence issues: seems they affect writers at every stage, even the multi-published and very successful. The trick (they say) is to write despite all of that. Easy to say, I know, but hard to do. Take it from one who knows.

Hoodie said...

Wow. Thanks, Liane. That really puts things into perspective for me. Sometimes it feels like if I'm not succeeding RIGHT NOW in a certain area then that's it for me. I'm a done-for failure.

Thanks for the validation and the encouragement. Really.

lena said...

I believe if you want to write and are already writing well, there is always space for improvement and going for your dream. I have read your piece for Jason's contest and I really liked it.
Of course it is tough to assess your own writing and friends only keep telling you how great you are but still you need some kind of a proof that you really can make it to publiching one day. Else you lose motivation and keep wondering if it at all makes any sense to you.
I am sure everything will be fine, with one;s dedication and hard work and a little bit of luck, things will eventually go well for you.
Good luck and keep writing no matter what!

Hoodie said...

Lena -
Thanks for stopping over and for your encouragement. I really didn't expect this much response. I really appreciate the vote of confidence.

All this wonderful encouragement has motivated me to do regular writing exercises again. The excitement is back.

Anonymous said...

Hoodie, keep the faith. As long as you're seriously devoted to getting better and willing to hit feedback head on, you'll get there. I'm not happy where I am either, but I've come way too far to quit now. ;)

(And I saw nothing fatal in your contest piece. A bit of tightening was all it needed. If it wasn't singing to you, that was probably the reason. I've ended up forcing pieces too, and you just lose some kind of magical edge when that happens.)

Hoodie said...

Jason -
I'd be so happy to be at the place you are unhappy at. :)

Thanks for the encouragement. Even when life hands me detours I'm sure I'll always come back to it. Sometimes it's difficult for me to see the progress I've already made. Knowing I've made some is very rewarding, though.

Thanks for be such an integral part of my learning.

Jaye Wells said...

First, thanks for your kind words. I feel lucky to know you too. You know why? Because you're a genuine person, and because I have been touched by your stories. Your piece in Jason's contest was great. Seriously. You can't let not placing mean that the story didn't have merit. I didn't place in most of his contests, but i enjoyed the challenge and the community. That has to be enough sometimes. The lesson to be learned there is you can't look for outside validation. Writing has to be a means unto itself. If you're so focused on getting published or on everyone liking your work you're begging for disappointment.

If you need a little motivation, I'd recommend getting The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I'm taking a class based on the book right now and it's been really inspirational.

Anonymous said...
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SzélsőFa said...

i hope you're doing fine, whatever, wherever you are.