Friday, August 28, 2015

The Trouble With Being a Writer


Bill Watterson
By Sarah Reichert

            We're alcoholics and psychotics. We're sufferers of depression and anti-hubris. We sit alone and struggle with the worlds inside our own heads, sometimes to the failure of the outside lives we have. Like many creative professions, writers have been known to live chaotic existences, peppered with self-destructive behaviors, and emotional upheavals. But sometimes the problems are less dramatic.

Ø   The Burnt Pancake Principle. Other people can focus on one or two things at a time. If you're a mom, chances are you focusing on about twenty. But when a writer is stuck on a plot snafu in their mind small tragedies occur. Curbs are hit, pancakes burn, remotes are randomly shelved in the freezer. It’s a real problem because smoke alarms and jolting tire flattening can really interrupt that perfect train of thought.

Ø  I'm Dying of Dengue Fever, or Cancer… Creativity doesn't stop when your fingers are off of the keys. The constant question, “What If…” allows us to write intriguing stories but it also makes mountains out of moles and convinces us that the scratch we got from a bunny trapped in the window well will surely result in Tularemia, meaning we only have about a month to finish that novel before we succumb to fever and inescapable death. The plus side: you have new inspiration to finish.

Ø  The Ruin of Books: Becoming an Accidental Editor. I love to read. I could spend days curled up with my yet-to-read piles of books. But ever since I grew my hard editing eye (pretty sure that’s an actual condition and I'll probably be blind in a week, causing me to have to learn to read braille and find conflict resolution by feel alone) it has become increasingly difficult to turn it off and just enjoy the story. Worse, I feel proud when I find mistakes in a professionally published novel. In your face, author who is, otherwise, better than me in every other way...

Ø  Being an Introvert While Simultaneously Having to Promote Your Work. I don't like talking about myself unless it’s to tell others about my shortcomings (a great technique for lowering expectations). In this world of self-back-slapping and “read me-read me!” cries, I still feel uncomfortable promoting my work. And I get tired of people telling me to get over it. That’s not who I am. If I could quietly sneak a reader my book, assure them it's perfectly fine to burn it if it’s as horrible as I think it is, and slink back into the shadows, I would be much more comfortable.



What other troubles plague you as a writer?  

5 comments:

Patricia Stoltey said...

There's that overwhelming conviction that everything else in life is more important than my writing and therefore I must always "indulge" in writing time when there's nothing else to do. This last month, even exercise and watching "Game of Thrones" took priority.

I will make my writing priority in September. I will make my writing priority in September. I will, I will, I will....

JC Lynne said...

You've captured it perfectly. I'm having anxiety about my next post because it may be redundant, but I'm going to link to yours nonetheless. Well done.

Sarah Reichert said...

Yes, Pat! That is my biggest problem. I never prioritize my writing. Thank you :)

Thank you JC, and you're posts are always so well written, I'm sure you'll bring a fresh perspective. Thank you :)

MollyLikesMovies said...

The editing eye is not unknown in other professions--Mark Twain said he used to be able to enjoy moonlight on the Mississippi, before he became a pilot--after that, he said, he cursed moonlight because it set up reflections that kept him from seeing that bad log that might smack into the boat he's in charge of. And that he could never look at the river just for scenic value other times, as well.

Shane Dean said...

Another problem that many writers face: too many ideas. I have about five stories in various stages of "in progress". Even if I jot a note in a notebook for later, I still get detailed. I think I am going to make a similar commitment like Patricia. I WILL finish a manuscript by the end of the year. I WILL finish a manuscript by the end of the year. I WILL...

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