Tuesday, March 22, 2005

On Writing

I love writing and I've always wanted to be a writer. A fiction writer. I've always felt like I could do it for real, as a career - once I got started. Getting started was the hard part.

I wrote my first stories before I could write. I told the stories to my mom, who wrote them down, and I illustrated them with pictures cut from the J.C. Penney and Sears & Roebuck catalogs.

When I was 7, I wrote and illustrated my first story all on my own. It was a read along book about a little girl who loved reading more than anything else in the world. After her birthday party, she found a small unopened package. It turned out to contain a magic lotion! (Those who know me well will laugh that my lotion obsession was evident even at that age.) The magic lotion allowed the girl to float in the air! How did the girl use such a precious gift? She applied the lotion in her bedroom, floated up to the ceiling, and reclined to spend the rest of the afternoon reading in midair. I taped myself reading the story, and still have the tape although I think I've lost the book. On it, you can hear my pedantic/precocious voice saying, "You may now turn the page" after every 6 words or so.

In college, I took a couple of fiction writing classes. I wrote a lot in college and felt good about what I was writing. Finishing was my big problem then and afterwards.

More recently, I decided to get serious about it and do some real fiction writing. Lately I've been having a little crisis of faith. I don't think that what I've been writing is very good. And that's really what I was afraid of all along, that's why it was so hard to get started. What if I can't do it? What if I'm really really bad? Who am I if I'm not the girl who will, someday, be a writer?


  1. Sarahlynn, my blog is pretty focussed on writers and writing and I'm amazed at how many of them share your fear even when they've clinched that first commission or printed that first story. It is part of the gig I think.

    I reckon the ones who get things finished are the ones who make time to write NO MATTER WHAT, who don't sweat the small stuff about it too much. "Oh the mind, the mind has mountains" Gerard Manley Hopkins. And as someone else said, he who hesitates is lost...

    I'm sure you are a writer, and that your life experiences right now will inform your writing with some richness. Have you tried putting pieces away for a couple of months ( even six months...!)it's surprising how much better they look if you haven't seen them for awhile!!
    Also some pieces grow on you over time - you can't nail them all at once IMHO. Hang in there...

  2. Sarahlynn,

    I could have written a similar post. I´ve been a passionate reader since I learned how to read, and I started writing my own stuff a couple of years later.

    Problem is, in my late teens I got (fiction)Writer´s Block and I´ve been trying to recover ever since.

    These days I have fullfilled part of my dream: to earn my living with books. But to be honest I would rather write them.

    If you like, we could be writer buddies. I had a writer buddy a long time ago and that really jump-started my writing.

    What kind of stuff do you like to write?

  3. oh man, me too. the reading, the college fiction-writing courses, the insecurity. i keep telling myself that i'm young enough to wait until i'm more comfortable with myself as a writer, but, of course, if i never do the writing i want to do while i'm uncomfortable with it, i imagine i will be saying that for the rest of my life.

  4. You know, I think you have already started just by keeping this blog and getting in the habit of writing regularly. Getting this habit going is, I think, one of the most important things you can do. Not speaking from experience, obviously. But if you can just do it everyday, well then eventually you force yourself to do beginning, middle, and end. You already know you are a great writer (you do, don't you? Well, you are.)

    I myself always enjoy writers who begin at a more advanced age (that is, not in their early 20's). In youth it's usually all style and no substance. You've already got a lot of substance going on. I'd read you!

    I think Ciara has a great idea about joining a group to push you along!

  5. You asked for advice, so I'm piling in, a stranger and an admirer: it's not the writing that's getting you down. Your blog is compelling, moving, compassionate, has a great voice. I would guess--again, unsolicited, inappropriately, from afar--that what's got your confidence shaky is a combination of senility, diarrhea, vomit, (all other people's, of course, but visiting your life) mean people, and too many doctor's appointments.

    Keep writing! I send big happy encouraging thoughts your way.

  6. Writing is a compulsion. Writers NEED to write. They are not complete without it.If you feel the need then you've started well. Now all you need to do is write and share what you write with others.