Rant: Am I The Right Kind of Writer?

There are great advantages to being a viewer of the online writing community. Not a member, per se, but an observer, lurking in the mists just outside YouTube, Instagram, or Goodreads, listening, learning, leaning in now and then to give a like or a “yay,” but never jumping in with both feet into the great advice-laden oblivion. For me, this is probably the best.

I find myself getting anxious, watching videos in particular, about who I am supposed to be as an independent writer and how productive I need to be to succeed. While the publishing advice is helpful and I understand the Amazon-fueled distribution model demands more and more blood sacrifice, I am starting to think that there is a whole market/niche/community out there of “writers” who only give “writing advice” and don’t necessarily write anything else. Please understand I am a novice here and baby hasn’t become cynical yet.

So before I download your “helpful” PDF or sign up for your “complete marketing course” I’m going to want to see a list of your non-writing-business related books, please. Yes, yes, I understand you write under a pseudonym (as I obviously do as well) but before I invest any more of my time (my most precious resource) I’m going to need to see your bibliography. Because otherwise I’m going to think that the best way to make a living as a writer is to cobble a bunch of blog posts together and market them as an ebook to other would-be writers.

I was so thoroughly impressed with this young writer’s discussion (and the subsequent responses) that I became an instant fan of Shaelin. I especially appreciated how she calls out how the community is mainly middle-class, U.S.-based, white women.
(Full disclosure, that’s me too.)

Just to reiterate what Shaelin talks about in her video (which I’ve only just come across, pardon my tardiness) is that writing and writers come in all forms. The Writing Process (capitalized because it’s fucking important) comes in all forms and changes, not just by writer, but buy Project. Every project, whether non-fiction, blog post, article, or fiction has a different Process going into it, during creation and revision, and in the final packaging. The idea that anyone has the secret to the perfect Writing Process is ridiculous at best, an unscrupulous lie at worse.

And, man oh man, don’t get me started on videos about bullet journals and the “Writer’s Planner.” Fhgnaklakdglishdflksndlfkhlsdkfslkdf!

Yup, I said it. I’m unimportant enough to get away with it, too. Wait until my next post when I talk about how a chunk of the writing community appears to be supported by spouse salaries.

Answer: Yes.

Another Year, Another…year

I could start talking about how goals were lost, intentions were well-intended, things were missed, and shit was not finished. But unless you want me to populate this entire post with more passive verbs and self-flagellation, I’m going to stop now and starting looking forward.

Typically I’m a self-reflective person. I have found much of my personal growth from this process and while my “Five Ways to Self-Reflect” blog post lurks somewhere in the distant future, I won’t be lying if I said that this knowledge-building practice was inspired by endless sessions of reading manga.

Yes Sensei!

Perhaps this year fewer manga will be read and more words will be written. Perhaps this year new challenges will be faced and new paths will be trodden. Perhaps it’s not worth fretting over an arbitrary date just because we consider this the beginning of one thing and the end of something else. Why can’t March 8th be the symbolic beginning of a new year? August 21st?

It doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to slink into the New Year Zeitgeist, seven days late, and firmly declare my 2019 goals in the hopes of riding that momentum train into a less disappointing December. I still have that damn anthology to finish – the one listed in the sidebar and the first two books of my series to start. The first one is outlined, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, because it’s been sitting and fermenting at the bottom of  stack of notebooks. Will this be the year? This will be the year. There is no next year. There is always only this year.

Before falling into some pseudo-philosophical ramble, I would just like to say “hello, how are you? I hope you had a nice holiday season.” Time to get to work.

Poem: “Flies”

Sometimes I retire pieces that I don’t want to fuss with anymore. This poem received a couple of rejections last year and upon re-reading it, I decided not to revise. It’s not a matter of it being good enough, but more a matter of accurately representing what I tried to say at a particular time.

Without the buzzing, all I hear is oblivion.
Even the flies have left us,
evolving into specks in the past,
unable to digest the poison.
We have become less than death.

Old corpses are of no use.

Most of the shelters were shams,
metal drums buried in the ground,
lined with words like “Safe” and “Secure.”
They were endorsed by the top people in the West.
They were on sale at the local home improvement store.

They are the most expensive coffins in the world.

The old shelters, the ones built into high schools,
they were solid, years of paranoia layered in paint.
Those of us lucky enough to find them emerged
scavengers of those other, newer shelters:
The prepared, the pragmatic, the pestilence.

The sham shelters were remarkably easy to break open.

Becky and I came across one last week.
The flies had been there once,
and a few things that had been predators,
and a few things that had been children.

Becky never misses a beat.

Once in awhile I see the shadow of a bird.
Wide and dark, it circles over an empty landscape,
terrifying and terrified to land.
To land means death.

I watch the shadow skim the dirt as Becky pops open another can.

“Shit,” she says, “This was a tough one.”
There is a scream and a gunshot.
Ah, someone bought the upgrade.
There is a dragging, a shuffling, a grunting behind me.
There will be nothing left for you, circling bird.

There is not enough food to go around.

 


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Nine Ways to Kill Your Writing Mojo

Listicles are still popular, right? Is this 2008? I am not always up on contemporary society, struggling as I am to attain the title of Eccentric Recluse without the infamy or, for that matter, the noticeable accomplishment. Yet since I’m here and since I have some experience in these matters, scoot closer to your favorite Gothic neighbor-lady and she’ll tell you a thing or two.

But don’t you think about coming up onto my porch. You just keep your butt on those steps, you hear me?

  1. Giving Yourself Unrealistic Goals: This one needs little explanation because we’ve all been there. We’ve all sat thinking about the someday when we’ll have enough time to write 5,000 words a day and have the energy to work on multiple projects at once and how we’ll be able to produce multiple titles per year. We could have written about 1,000 words during our daydreaming session. We didn’t. Someday, tho.
  2. Excusing Excessive Daydreaming as “Writing”: Sometimes it is, when you’re thinking about plot, or setting, or characters, etc. Sometimes daydreaming is just letting the story soup stew in your head, allowing the flavors to melt into one another. Those moments should count as writing. Daydreaming about that perfect traveler’s notebook that will really get your novel organized is not, however, writing.
  3. Judging the Writing Processes of Others: See what I’ve done here? Scolding myself in order to excuse my previous comment. It’s a typical rhetorical trick that is supposed to convince you that since I am self-aware, I am not a judgmental asshole, because, well, I do it too! See how that works? I zig, but I also zag. Don’t do this. Be honest and kind. But don’t spend too much time on your journal. That may not be the writing you want to share with the world.
  4. Losing Interest Halfway Through a Project: This happens to everyone. It’s happening to me right now and I’m using it to show you that it is okay to abandon something that is not working. A project that you dread coming to should be shelved. You may have fresh eyes for it in the future, or you may not. Write the project you want to write. CAVEAT: Finish your work as much as possible. If you find yourself abandoning nearly every project, perhaps you should create in a different medium for a while. Paint, sew, carve, sing, any number of ways to express yourself. Don’t let staleness stop your art.

You can figure out the rest, and the joke, from here. There are plenty of ways to motivate you to keep working, keep creating, and if you’re like me, you’ve consumed a bunch of them. But I’ll give you one more for free:

Keep creating.

What are you doing next?

I love your work. 

Did I say “next”…

I did. I went back and read that. In the literal sense I’ve already blown the challenge as I stipulated that I would start on that, or the next day. Yet I’m giving myself a Mulligan, because situations outside of my control strapped me into a spiral of malaise and funk that forced me to contribute very little for the last few days. This is a typical battle, one that (thankfully) doesn’t impede the larger parts of my life, but just those smaller grottoes just for me. Perhaps it is my unwillingness to think I deserve a creative outlet. Perhaps I am merely holding back expecting some sort of backlash. Perhaps I’m just lazy. Either way, I have made it back and intend to not promise anything, but to keep the challenge ahead.

Though I will make an adjustment to the rules because they are my rules and I can change them if I want. The thirteen stories in thirteen days do not need to be consecutive, but, and this is the one added restriction that I need – they will have to be completed by September 1st, 2018.