Tag Archives: frustration

Why Write?

Disappointment isn’t something that I deal with well. More often than not I keep things behind the scenes, but occasionally whining slips out—as evidenced by this post I’ve written and quickly put up before I could go and delete it.

But I’ve been thinking I need a new hobby. This writing thing has been great and I truly enjoy it, but the disappointment and rejection tend to build and create this volcano of frustration and self-doubt that threatens to erupt when even the garbage man refuses to buy my new book.

YOU CAN READ IT WHILE YOU’RE ON THE CRAPPER, YOU FOOL!

Anyway, I have a couple humor-centric posts coming soon, but that’s where my head is. Stuck up my butt in a constant loop of defeat, researching ways to make creative doilies out of cat hair and perfecting my pitch for “Shark Tank.”

But a friend—a writer friend—alerted me to something she had recently read that might resonate, and yes, yes it did. It’s an introduction to “Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Writers on How and Why They Do What They Do” by editor Meredith Maran.

Below is part of what she had to say:

“Why do writers write? Anyone who’s ever sworn at a blinking cursor has asked herself that question at some point. Or at many, many points.

When the work is going well, and the author is transported, fingers flying under the watchful eye of the muse, she might wonder, as she takes her first sip of the coffee she poured and forgot about hours ago, ‘How did I get so lucky, that this is what I get to do?’

And then there are the less rapturous writing days or weeks or decades, when the muse is injured on the job and leaves the author sunk to the armpits in quicksand, and every word she types or scribbles is wrong, wrong, wrong, and she cries out to the heavens, ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’

It’s a curiosity in either case. Why do some people become neurosurgeons, dental hygienists, investment bankers, while others choose an avocation that promises only poverty, rejection, and self-doubt? Why do otherwise rational individuals get up every morning – often very, very early in the morning, before the sun or the family or the day job calls – and willingly enter the cage?

Is it the triumph of seeing one’s words in print? Statistics show this isn’t a reasonable incentive. According to the website Publishing Explained, more than one million manuscripts are currently searching for a U.S. publisher. One percent of these will get the nod.

Nor can we credit the satisfaction of a job well done. As the ever-cheerful Oscar Wilde put it, “Books are never finished. They are merely abandoned.” Only 30 percent of published books turn a profit, so we can rule out material motivation. God knows it can’t be for the boost in self-esteem. To paraphrase Charlie Chaplin’s depiction of actors, ‘Writers search for rejection. If they don’t get it, they reject themselves.’

Why, then, does anyone write? Unlike performing brain surgery, cleaning teeth, or trading books, anyone can pick up a yellow pad or a laptop or a journal and create a poem or a story or a memoir. And, despite the odds against attaining the desired result, many, many people do. We fill our journals and write our novels and take our writing classes. We read voraciously, marveling at the sentences and characters and plot twists our favorite authors bestow upon us. How do they do it? we ask ourselves. And why?”

In 2001, naturalist Terry Tempest Williams addressed the question in “Why I Write” in Northern Lights magazine.

“I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create fabric in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change.”

I don’t know if I would go as far as to say I write in hopes the world will change, but I suppose I write in hopes that my world will change in some way. Writing gives me an escape, and although at times it feels like it makes me a prisoner to my head and leaves me at the mercy of readers who might not be there, I come back. Every day I come back to the words.

And I promise words with less weight in the future, but I just had to vent. Today, that’s what writing is for (the doilies will just have to wait.)

If you write, why do you write? If you read, why do you read?

Like the blog? Buy the NEW book here. Why? It has stories about drunk nuns, Vanilla Ice and adventures at the ATM. Plus, you’ll be cooler than my garbage man. 

The Boss of Me

So, what did I want to be when I was little?

What did I want to be?

I can’t distinctly remember every ambition, but I know there was a marine biologist, an actress, a baseball player, Mariah Carey, a teacher (for the summers off, not the humanitarian efforts,) a vet, a lawyer (to get paid to argue, most certainly not for the humanitarian efforts,) Evie from “Out of this World,” an artist,  and Sylvester Stallone’s love child during the “Rocky” years thrown into the mix at some point.

evien2

Because who wouldn’t want to pause and un-pause time, "gleep" objects into existence and transport herself from one place to another?

My mom’s answer as to what I wanted to be?

That I wanted to be the boss of me, and quite possibly, the boss of a few other people (my minions, I was told. Muah-ha-ha.) It’s not that I was bossy, but rather that I liked to be in charge of getting things done and having say over how I spent my time.

That time was usually spent doing more than one thing at once. If the TV was on, I was also coloring. If I was in the car, I was also reading or drawing. Yes, I was the nerd that would read ahead in class because I already had my work done.

My point being, I think I’ve always felt entitled to my time and how it’s spent.

Now I’m technically an adult and it’s assumed that my maturity level is slightly higher than that of the little girl who dreamed of being either a half-alien with supernatural powers or the bastard child of an aging movie star. But some things haven’t changed.

I still feel a sense of entitlement over my time and still kind of wish I was Mariah Carey.

mariah-carey-husband-nick-cannon

(If only because she’s married to Nick Cannon, who is very easy on the eyes. Plus, she has boobs.)

I still just somehow want to be the boss of me.

*Here is where I add the disclaimer that I work in a good environment, they are flexible with my neurosis and I’m grateful for my job. This is more about the general system and has nothing to do with the place at all.

It has to do with the fact that the little girl with plans to be her own boss—after saving the whales and starring in a major motion picture—has turned into a hippie-dippie adult with a “real” job who still wants something more.

While I realize the impracticality of my desires, I would like more control of my time.

See, even though I have no desire to climb any corporate ladder, I’m a darn good employee. My work gets done thoroughly, usually early and I tend to have higher expectations than others do for the work that I do. But here’s the thing. Regardless of how I get my work done, my butt is still expected to be stuck in that chair for the duration of the day and I’m still expected to be at my best during those hours.

In essence, I’m paid for time and not for effort.

Six-year-old Abby would find this absurd, and 29-year-old Abby is not far behind (however, 29-year-old Abby has a house payment and 6-year-old Abby had a blanket fort—rent free.)

It seems  there are countless hours and days when my time is not my own, when it really belongs to those that sign my paycheck (again, see disclaimer above. It’s nothing personal.*) It feels a bit selfish, a bit immature, but I sometimes resent that what I do is measured in minutes and not merit.

I feel cheated.

Cheated out of what, I’m not quite sure. Maybe out of a little bit of control, of a little bit of creativity, of a little bit of individuality. Maybe out of a little bit of energy towards things I want to do, things that rarely conveniently fall at a time after “traditional” business hours. (And in a cruel plot twist, things I don’t get paid to do, such as rambling on a blog.)

My brain does not differentiate between business hours and the few left over at the end of the day, just as it doesn’t differentiate between weekends and professional production. I get some of my best ideas for both at the most random times.

This leads me to believe that I would be just as—if not more—productive if not confined to restrictions of other’s conventional schedules.

I know it’s unrealistic, but so is thought that it’s one-size-fits-all when it comes to these things…and that a 60-year-old would still be boxing.

rocky

Sorry Sly.  

But instead of holding my breath in protest (while coloring and watching TV) like 6-year-old marine biologist/child actor Abby would have done, I suppose I should exhale and just keep keepin’ on for now—considering they pay me to write words, even if they’re not the words I really want to write (again, see disclaimer.* It’s not personal.)

Being an adult means reconciling the fact that what you want to be is sometimes shaped by what you have to be, at least for a little while. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up, as much like my fictional philandering father Rocky Balboa, I’m a fighter.

No, one day I’ll be asked, “What did you want to be?”

I’ll say with a smile, “What did I want to be? Just what I am—a woman who’s paid to write from the heart, in control of her time and her efforts…and possibly named by  Billboard magazine in their "Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years."

And as the boss of me, I’ll accept that two out of three ain’t bad.

I think it’s kind of obvious what I wish I could be (a half-alien with supernatural powers from an early ‘90s TV show that gets paid to write witty tidbits from home—duh.) 

What did you want to be? If that’s not what you are, why aren’t you?

Girl, Interrupted

I miss intellectual conversation and dialogue. I used to love discussions in some of my college courses and would leave class absolutely high from the stimulating interaction. Even now I find myself a little overeager at times to jump into actual discussions I overhear in random settings, almost as if I crave that high again. I don’t mean talking about the superficial things, but the actual exchanging of ideas.

I think this is why I write.

Unlike those women with their cell connected to their head, I hate the telephone and use it only when necessary. When it comes to face-to-face communication I am great in social situations where I can plan ahead and remain fairly anonymous, yet slightly awkward in day-to-day interactions with acquaintances. Unless I know you well or not at all, I tend to get insecure and kind of weird.

Before you say anything, hear me out…

Maybe it’s a confidence thing, as with writing I have the time to self-edit a bit and make sure that I’m communicating what I want to say—even if it’s just an e-mail or text message. This gives me time to put aside the impulsive reaction and respond appropriately, not so off the cuff. When put on the spot, I tend to fumble a bit more and awkwardly reply. I always want to “backspace” and start over, so to speak, including instead something more witty or wise.

No, wait, let me finish…

Clare had a very insightful post on listening that got me thinking about my own need to be heard. The thing is, I don’t think that people really listen to me when I talk most of the time. In fact, I’m pretty sure most people don’t really know how to listen. Many people I deal with on a daily basis ask questions without waiting for the answer and launching into an aside of their own. Whether intentional or not, they dominate the conversation (used loosely) and even though I’m not shy (used loosely,) there are times I actual wonder if I spoke out loud or if it was only in my head, as the reaction is the same.

Hold on, I’m almost done…

I think this need to be heard is normal, but it’s also a bit frustrating. As much as I love her, my mom is the worst. I can literally be talking about one thing and she will interrupt me with something completely unrelated without missing a beat. I listen, I nod, I ask questions because I know that’s how she is. I play my role and she plays hers — relative peace is kept. But once in awhile I would like to have someone actually listen to what I have to say instead of going through the motions, adding interjections and quickly moving on to other topics.

I think this is why I write.

When I write, I can communicate without getting cut off. Writing is one way I can guarantee that at least one part of my discussion will be complete and the topic won’t get shifted to something completely unrelated, the focus momentarily skewed. I have a lot to say—a lot of worthy things to say—and you are forced to read it through with no retort (insert evil laugh here…muwahh-ha-ha.)

You may turn the page or click off the screen, but at least I know I’ve “said” my piece and did what I wanted to do. It may not spark intellectual conversation and dialogue, but it’s one way I can try (with backspace/delete at the ready, of course.)

If you still have an interest in art, check out the current Top 25 on the ArtPrize website. I was able to visit some venues this weekend and look forward to hitting some more this week. While I don’t “get” a lot of it, I respect the artist’s efforts. They’re communicating—uninterrupted—through their art.

That I get.