September 12, 2013

If I waited for perfection

"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." 
- Margaret Atwood

I need to start this post with a question.  Why is it that I can spend literally hours some days working on a post, carefully choosing photos that illustrate the text, and searching for just the right poem that complements the post, and have only a few people read it, and then on the day I confess I literally can't think of a thing to write about, my readership more than doubles?!  Odd.  Nice, but odd.  And, of course, a little embarrassing because I would have preferred, if given a choice, to have everyone read something that I'm proud of instead of a post I struggled over.
This is NOT me.  But I thought you'd enjoy a peek at Agatha Christie, who was much too clever of a writer to come up empty handed (hmm...if you are a writer with writer's block are you empty worded??)
Facebook evidently took pity on me after I confessed yesterday that my mind was blank, because just a few minutes later The Writers Circle posted its morning blog on facebook...and it was about writer's block.  It helpfully shared Roy Blount Jr.'s insight that "[I] think writer's block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible. But as a writer, I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough, sooner or later something will come out."  Well, Roy, I guess that is true enough, but that "something" may not be very profound! 
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." ~ Ernest Hemingway.
On the other hand, I never promised profound. I don't worry about writing something "horrible" but I do try to write posts that are truthful and interesting.  I write because I have a story to tell, and I hope that sometimes my story  makes a small difference in someone's day.  But Barbara Kingsolver had it right:  "Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer." 

I can't remember a time when I didn't love to write, choosing words for their delicious sounds or complex meanings or the emotions they elicit. I've written so many books in my head it's a wonder anything else stays put in my brain, with so many plots and characters and titles taking up residence. And I'm always eager to sit down at my small computer desk that is tucked away in a corner of my basement and start writing--many times I have an idea of what I want to say and other times I just end up "winging it" but it's always from the heart.  It's real.
It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”  ~ Stephen King, On Writing.
A year ago if you had asked me "what I do" I would have told you about my job.  How I deal with financial reports, contracts, spreadsheets and special projects.  Now, I answer "I write."  I am profoundly grateful that you choose to follow along on my journey.  I appreciate each and every one of you, and you have no idea how your comments can change the tenor of my day.  Maybe one day some of those characters taking up space in my brain will pack a suitcase and move into a real story or two, but in the meantime I will continue to show up every day with something to say.  Maybe not anything profound, but I'll be here.  And I hope you join me.  
Have a wonderful day!

So You Want to Be a Writer
By Charles Bukowski
if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

1 comment:

  1. I understand. Since I blog every day, I sometimes think, "What am I going to write about today?" And I draw a blank. But inevitably a photo will trigger some idea or I'll just start writing and something will come. Every post isn't profound, but the discipline of writing every day has been a blessing. Hang in there, my friend.