“Of course, in fairness, I must remind you of this: that we writers are the most lily-livered of all craftsmen. We expect more, for the most peewee efforts, than any other people.”
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
I’m writing this post tonight because I simply can’t write anything else. Stumped. Blocked. Broken. Whatever adjective you want to ascribe to it. That’s where I am.
Don’t get me wrong. I have story ideas. Or had story ideas. I drive seven hours a week for my job and ideas flood me as I drive. But apparently, it’s not safe to drive and write, so by the time I return home and sit down to write. Nothing. Secretly, I’m hoping that it’s simply because my son has been gone for a month. Something about that wonderful, stinky teenager grounds me and forces me to want for my dreams. Aside from him being gone, I’ve had a lot going on. My mom visited. I spent a week in La Crosse, WI getting my Autism Certification. I went back to South Dakota, and returned with all the internal conflict that usually accompanies those trips.
When I find myself in these slumps, which seems to be often as of lately, I become so angry at myself. Angry that I don’t. Angry that I can’t. Just plain angry.
And that’s where this post comes from. There are more than enough quotes out there about writing being work. Perhaps that’s why I’m not successful. Because I can’t see writing as work. That takes all the fun out of it.
A friend and I were talking about our time in theatre once and she said, “I’d love to be a professional actress.” I had no shame when I disagreed. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love and long for the stage or that the applause after a great show doesn’t thrill me. Quite the opposite. But being on stage for a job? That is a branch where expectation hangs.
Anyone who knows me will attest. I hate when expectation is hung on the branches of my life. Expectation bears a weight I can’t withhold. Yet, somehow, I hang unbearably heavy expectations on myself. And I continually let myself down. I can’t bear the thought of letting others down.
In my stories, expectations don’t matter. It’s a chance for me play and just enjoy the idea of creating. But when I’m unable to write, as in time like these, I become angry at myself because of my own expectations of “being a writer”, which I’m currently failing. The branch is getting heavy and ready to snap.
And then, I think about the industry within which I’d love to publish. We now have an instant publishing industry, where only the blockbuster will do. It’s about making money, not so much about making great literature. Did you know, Ernest Hemmingway wrote A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times? Somehow, I don’t feel as if the industry would allow for that kind of intense work because it’s all about getting it done and out to the public before the moment passes. I find few books that I think will be called classics to future generations. That saddens me.
So, tonight, I’ll cut myself a little slack and see where it leads. Because, regardless of the future, I will write. The good, the bad, and the non-sensical. I will write without expectations because the branches are too heavy for me to bear.
Because writing should be fun.