Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why even bother?


In that floaty moment before falling asleep the other night, I had an epiphany, It was not an uplifting one. The epiphany was this: there are billions of words already written, why do I suppose I have anything to add?

Falling asleep with such a thought made getting up a little harder. I did, of course, because I needed to hug the children and cook and eat and practice Tae Kwon Do; all good reasons, but that fire to write? Down to a mere flicker.

I made myself sit in front of the computer, but my motivation refused to be cajoled into making an appearance. So I did what every self-respecting, discouraged writer would do: I surfed the web. Only writing-related sites, of course.

Blogs, publishing news (Hey! Middle Grade novels are the darlings at Bologna! Cool, I have a MG novel, after all. *Nasty, hissy voice: "Yeah, and who says yours will be one to catch anybody's attention? Besides, if your book were really deserving, it would have been in the hands of an agent at Bologna!" *back to me* "lalalalalal, I can't hear you!",) contests, writing workshops and, oh here's an article by Alexander Chee, who recalled his writing classes with Annie Dillard:

Yes, everything’s been written, but also, the thing you want to write, before you wrote it, was impossible to write. Otherwise it would already exist. You writing it makes it possible.

My current condition: whip-lashed and bruised on the head.

Dear friends: keep writing. Don't give up. Write your story.

23 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

eeeks! Get fierce, my friend. Your voice is yours alone and has tales to tell. Besides, you WANT to tell them, right?
I had read Dillard's words before and they really are worth remembering. Thank you for that.
I've read a bit of your work and it's delicious. I sure want to see it served up and that won't happen without you. Hang tough.

Solvang Sherrie said...

No one can say what you have to say, and they certainly can't say it the way you say it.

I read somewhere that the only thing all published authors have in common is that they never gave up.

You can do it, Yat-Yee. Keep writing. Don't give up.

Yat-Yee said...

Tricia: thank you for the encouragement. Hang fierce I will.

Sherrie: thanks. Do you know a current pop song with the chorus like "I won't give up"? The song at the point is slightly annoying to me, but I the sentiment is the right one. No giving up.

Corey Schwartz said...

Yat-yee, I think all writers feel that way at times. I know I do!

But Sherrie is right. No one else will say what you have to say in the way that you will say it.

Lady Glamis said...

So inspiring! It's true that many stories have already been told, but nobody can tell it the same way YOU do, and that makes it unique and worth the effort!

Rebecca said...

You know, depending on your perspective, a "mere flicker" can be a very pleasant thing.

Davin Malasarn said...

Yat-Yee, I fall into this despair fairly often. I feel like so many writers are writing what I want to write, even what I'm able to write, better than I am. I comfort myself by saying that I'm at least allowed to play the game and try. If, in the end, I never write anything better than anyone else, hopefully the universe will forgive me.

MG Higgins said...

We're plugged into the same wavelength today. My negative musings hit me around 3 am and then are *usually* gone by the time I wake up. Thanks for the inspiring reminder!

Yat-Yee said...

Corey: you're right, writers who never doubt themselves deeply may not the ones who come up with the goods!

Michelle: That is so true!

Rebecca: Ha! Love your different perspective. A roaring fire may be exhilarating but difficult to sustain, and a mere flicker can be the very thing that is necessary.

Davin: As part of the universe: you're forgiven. :) And even though I didn't explicitly mention the idea of being better or not being better, it is definitely an idea that can be so debilitating.

Melissa: hope those wonderful 3 a.m. musings don't visit too often.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I've come back over to tell you that I've left an award for you on my blog. You don't have to do anything with it but know I appreciate your blog writings. :D

Yat-Yee said...

Thank you, Tricia. That is so very sweet of you.

Elana Johnson said...

I love this! It's so inspiring. Sometimes I feel weighed down by the books that are already out there. Like mine isn't original enough or familiar enough or whatever.

Thanks for helping me realize I'm not the only one. And hang in there. Your muse will come back.

Yat-Yee said...

Elana: it does help to know we're not alone in our doubts.

Bish Denham said...

Oh I've been going through this very same thing. It has struck me on and off through-out my entire life. And yet...I always keep coming back to...words and stringing them together in my own way.

We must remember breathe in and breathe out.

Yat-Yee said...

BIsh: I remember you mentioning it in one of your recent posts. And how gratifying, or at least, comforting, it is to come back to the same thing.

Take care. And yes, breathing is good.

jenniferknoblock said...

I have this same epiphany every time I walk into a large bookstore. And I used to so love browsing in bookstores! What I have realized is that whether anyone else in the universe ever appreciates my words, I can't stop writing them. Or reading them.

And hugging the kids is good therapy!

Yat-Yee said...

Jennifer: Isn't it interesting that the same experience can cause different reactions? Hugging the kids: one of the world's best things ever!

SAMUEL PARK said...

Oh, boy! Looks like we're having some psychic communication here! Thanks for the post--we're all in this together. Let's keep encouraging each other.

Yat-Yee said...

Samuel: So right. We ARE all in it together. (But now I have to exorcise that High School Musical song from my mind.) Thanks for your encouraging blog post.

Heather Hedin Singh said...

Keep writing, Yat-Yee! Your story matters. Your writing matters!

Julie Dao said...

I think it happens to everyone at some point. Just tell yourself exactly that. Out of all the billions of words out there, only YOU can write the words that come from your heart. No one else in the world can do that! Keep writing, Yat-Yee :)

Yat-Yee said...

Heather and Julie: thanks for your encouragement.

Molly Hall said...

This is such a great post. Thank you for your honesty! You are most certainly not alone. I just keep thinking, no matter what *I* really want to read this book. I am writing it because I want to read it. And I have very good taste. There have got to be at least four or five other people who will like it... ; ) ha ha!

Also, go High School Musical! Woo hoo!

On that note, I'd better: Get my, get my head in the game (as in-back to writing!)