Friday, November 6, 2009

Writer's Envy

By NCW Member Laura Lee Carter,
known online as the Midlife Crisis Queen!

“You miss 100 percent of all the shots you never take!”
-Wayne Gretzky

It's damn hard for me to admit when I feel envious of another, but I’m mighty jealous of the amazing success of writer Elizabeth Gilbert.

First of all, I am green with envy over the resounding success of "Eat, Pray, Love." This book took off in a viral way most writers can only dream of! And then to be on Oprah, twice no less!

But what I envy the most is how useful this book has been to millions of women worldwide. It is basically a simple tale of midlife crisis and self-discovery. We all have stories like this if we've made it this far. Having the experience is one thing, learning the lessons offered by them is another, being able to share those lessons with others in a way that speaks to them personally, that's the whole enchilada for a writer!


Because of my envy I decided to go to Elizabeth Gilbert’s homepage and I’m glad I did!

First of all, she has a lovely homepage. Then I read her bio and, come to find out, she's also had a boatload of rejection letters as a writer! She started out in her teens, sending in short stories to The New Yorker.

The gold mine for me and probably any other person interested in pursuing any form of creative expression, can be found on her: "Thoughts on Writing" page. It's a call to pursue your passion through thick and thin simply because you have to.

Her original goal was: "to publish something (anything, anywhere) before I die."

She has some lovely advice for those who pursue the creative life: "Quit complaining! It's not the world's fault that you want to be an artist, so get back to work."

But her best advice is to stop judging yourself so harshly, before the critics even get a chance. If you want to write for others, than get it out there for others to see. Don't hide it under the bed for decades because it isn't quite perfect yet.

She also encourages those "of a certain age" not to give up because the bloom is off the rose, so to speak. But interestingly, her example is Julia Glass, author of "Three Junes." Julia began writing in her late 30's, and when she won the National Book Award she said, "This is for all the late bloomers in the world."

She doesn't even know what "late bloomer" means! My model in this regard is Laura Ingals Wilder, my favorite childhood author. She didn't even start writing her famous series of books until she was 65!

The final line of Elizabeth's "Thoughts on Writing" spoke to me the most:

“Do you have the courage to bring forth this work?

The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES.”

I agree! Find a way to nurture that small creative kernel within! Tell it you will be fine if you aren't the best artist, or writer, or film maker in the world. Perhaps something inside of you wants to get out and express itself in some profound and important way. Encourage it, don't smother it inside!

See, I've successfully turned my envy into hero worship...


Diane said...

Hi Kerri! This was so encouraging. Thank you! I'm definitely a late-bloomer when it comes to writing, so I find what you said about Laura Ingalls Wilder inspiring! I'll see where this road leads me.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Excellent post, Laura Lee. I like the thought of pursuing your passion no matter what. I think life would get pretty boring, maybe even depressing, if we didn't have a passion for creative or constructive work.

Amy Tate said...

Great post! And I have no doubts that you'll do it too!

Carol Kilgore said...

Encouraging post. Thanks.

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