More often in the last week than any other time since I began this journey, I have asked myself why I am writing. Anyone who has graduated first grade can write. Once toddlers get potty trained, Baby Einstein makes them proficient at the mechanics of writing, even mildly entertaining by the time they enter first grade. After second grade, they’re ready to take the SAT. With all of those other writers out there, why am I writing?
The question isn’t retching misery in the long, dark night of my soul. Good grief, I’ve picked myself up and dusted myself off more times than a rodeo clown. No, this is something much less dramatic. What’s happening here is a smack of reality. It’s nearly year end and my R.O.I. is in conflict with my results oriented nature. The question really shouldn’t be why am I writing, but how much longer will I allow it to consume so much of my waking, and sleeping, life?
That’s right; in the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep through the jungle of doubt to the river so deep….searching for something so undefined….Damn it Billy Joel! Get out of my head!!
I was taken by surprise by how overpowering writing Summoning the Strength was, how it poured out of me day and night until it was finished. Thrills!! Angels sang glory hallelujah, it was finished!! No, it wasn’t. Writing to get people to read it has challenged me, frustrated me, motivated me to try harder, to write more.
There are a lot of characters in the beginning and I left it open-ended. Some readers said, “Loved it, what happens next, can’t wait for the next book.” Others couldn’t make it to page 64. (It gets faster after page 64.) Reviews are hard to come by unless you have a budget. I don’t. I am grateful for these comments:
…clever new novel with a strong female protagonist finding her place in a world that still places far too many barriers for women at every turn.
…Briggs creates a believable heroine in Katherine who is simultaneously compelling and humorous.
….a prime example of how story can give voice to those we’d never hear otherwise.
…Briggs addresses the vital importance of community and the hidden, deadly nature of domestic abuse and flavors this important story with her valuable perspective on life.
Here I am these months later, still writing, over thinking, being carried along by the flood of words, buoyed by passion for giving voice to a story that would otherwise never be heard. Then I think, there are no stories that haven’t been heard. A million times over. Hope, faith, grief, failure, success, love, hate, sadness, ecstasy, greed, charity, fear, pride, doubt, cruelty, desire, fantasy, animal, vegetable, mineral. Gods and prophets, angels and demons, man and machine, vampires and leprechauns, zombies riding unicorns, yep it’s all been done, and still I write. Not for fame, power or riches, only because I must. There is no other way to explain it.
My son asked me once how long he needed to cook some peanut butter fudge he was making to take to school. My answer was, “Until it’s done.” I suppose that’s how long I need to write; until it’s done.
11 thoughts on “Because It’s Better Than Having Your Guts Ripped Out By A Wheat Thresher”
There is no reason to write unless you must. I used to teach writing classes, and I always started out telling my students that if they didn’t truly have to write, they shouldn’t. I wish someone had told me that when I was in my 20s–wish they’d told me I was letting myself in for a hard life. But even if they had, I AM one of those who writes because I must, so I would’ve anyway. It’s been a blast (NOT!)
But it is better than having your guts ripped out by a wheat thresher, right?
Wow, that was quick! Yes, I suppose it’s better than the wheat thresher…but not by much!
Yeah, I’m sitting here trying to think how I’m going to tell the tale of being Freshly Pressed.
“With all of those other writers out there, why am I writing?”
Words to that effect have plagued and discouraged me for years. Now that the Internet has made possible a world where hundreds of millions of typists have the tools and platforms to declare themselves Real Writers, how can one possibly hope to rise above the crowd? (Other than, say, relying on connections in lieu of talent.) Some days, a wheat-thresher gutting sounds tempting.
But as one who loves to write, I’ve convinced myself that Step One is Do it anyway and Step Two is Resist the urge to be horrible at it. I’m still working on Step Three through (it feels like) Step Five Hundred.
Wow, so it isn’t just me. Is there a club? A secret hand shake? Seriously, your writing is terrific and you’re on to something with that “Step Program.” I learned from my dad, if we give the world our very best, we’ll get kicked in the teeth, but we should do it anyway! Thanks for your comment.
Sure, anybody can write. But few write well. I have one friend who is currently extremely delusional and believes his just-penned fantasy novel is going to land him on Ellen. It’s pure crap, and I haven’t the nerve to tell him. Well, I do, and I sort of did, but he got all defensive. Told me, “I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life! Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone.”
DAMN YOU, BILLY JOEL!!
LOL! I would be okay with someone telling me the truth. If it’s crap and I’m delusional, at least I’d know. But then I’d have to wonder about those who said they loved it. Hmmmm, they may be wrong, but they may be right.
That Billy Joel has to stick his nose in everywhere!!! 😉
I had a similar thought over the weekend about my photography. A friend asked me how a recent art show had gone and I told her it was OK but that I see that I need to find a better path than selling a print at a time if I want it to go anywhere. She actually laughed at me and told me that I was completely unrealistic thinking I could do anything with my HOBBY – she said it like it was capitalized. I felt a fool for even talking with her.
Creatives create because to do otherwise is to shut off a part of themselves to die slowly.
Feeling foolish is part of my wardrobe these days, like a pair of warm socks! I guess non-creatives make it their mission to kill us slowly with their words….or a wheat thresher! 🙂
So true. Those who can create, those who can’t go around bursting bubbles and punching us in the gut.