Category Archives: Breaking Through

Ten Days in the Life of a “Non-writer”

A few weeks back, in a post titled “Today I Resign from Writing (well, maybe),” I unabashedly vented my grievances with the written word, or more notably, my desires to be a writer. I knew at the time that my threats were likely empty, but I felt compelled to at least toy with notion of quitting, giving up, or in the formal sense, resigning.

I explained how my personal identity was suffering, and I couldn’t see myself as being worthy if I didn’t write. This is a dangerous game to play when one is virtually unknown, unpublished, and unfinished with a novel two and half years in the making.

Consequently I dared to wonder if my life would be better without the prospect of writing.

Many of my wonderful readers suggested taking a break, which believe it or not was something I hadn’t considered. Others advised me to figure out the kind of writer I wanted to be—another insightful piece of wisdom that hadn’t dawned on me. Some swore that if I wrote for myself and not for publication that I’d find what I was looking for.

So I devised an experiment. Ten days. No writing. More than that actually, for ten days I am no longer a writer. I don’t think about writing, I don’t talk about writing, I don’t know about writing. I will strip myself to the bare essentials and see what’s left.

Here’s what I discovered:

1. The urge to write is difficult to ignore. It didn’t matter if I was doing laundry, going grocery shopping, holding my friend’s new baby, or teaching one of my classes, the act of writing still called to me. It’s a subtle, sneaky kind of feeling that makes me glance over my shoulder, as if someone is watching me.

2. The void is vast. I learned that self-identity comes in many different forms from many different sources. I’m a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend, a colleague, and a teacher. But I’m also a writer. And when I deliberately hack off that part of myself, it can feel like I’m walking around with a missing limb—or a hole in my chest.

“There’s a part of me missing!” Melissa Nicklen → in Food & Drink

3. Subconsciously, the writing doesn’t stop. Even though I boycotted my novel for more than a week, I still deliberately drove the past the house in my neighborhood that inspired the setting for my story. Even now, I’m silently categorizing its features, its blemishes, its overall vibe, and the role it plays in the story. In other words, if it’s in you, it’s in you.

4. This respite is likely an excuse to slack off. I’m tired. I work. I clean. I cook. I make and keep appointments. I run errands. Writing can sometimes feels like an added responsibility. I often find myself rushing through more menial tasks so I can attend to my writing. But on days when the writing just isn’t working and I start to lose faith in my talents and abilities, the craft itself turns to work. Worse than that. Extra work. But hey, sacrifices need to be made. I now understand that in truth, my desire to “resign” from writing was based in fear of failure, and hence, a loss of personal identity—which is really silly if you think about it.

5. The real reasons for writing start to emerge. To be the next Danielle Steel? To prove myself to former classmates, colleagues, etc.? To make money? Not really. It turns out my true purpose for writing comes from someplace deeper.

Janis Urtans → in Flowers

 

So, for each day I didn’t write, I came up with one GOOD reason to continue writing:

 1. Because stories are powerful

2. Because I’ve always been fascinated by time and place

3. Because I want to contribute to peoples’ reading

4. Because the human condition is expansive

5. Because we ARE our characters

6. Because our READERS are our characters

7. Because I’ve got something to say, and I don’t know how else to say it

8. Because we all need to escape when we aren’t otherwise able to

9. Because it’s all about perspective

10. Because one day, it’ll be all that’s left of me—of all of us

As it turns out, that whole resignation thing was a fluke. But I’m glad I considered quitting, because if I didn’t, I’d still be stuck in that whirlwind of false hope, delusional motivation, and indulgent yearnings of writing for all the wrong reasons. Real writing is about scratching an itch, answering a calling, and following an instinct.

There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

-Red Smith

What are your GOOD reasons for writing?

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Filed under Breaking Through, Inspiration, Self Discovery, The Writing Life, Why We Write

Getting Published for a Good Cause

Oh Sandy! An Anthology of Humor for Serious Purpose is now available and I’m honored to be a part of it! Back in December, editors Leigh Beighley, AJ Fader, and Peter Barlow put out a call for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry on topics dealing with surviving disaster or being from New Jersey. The twist? Each submission was asked to take a humorous tone (can’t be too hard when asking for stories about New Jersey) to help raise spirits for those who survived (and are still surviving) Hurricane Sandy.

Like most residents of New York and New Jersey, I experienced Sandy in my own way, and it’s something I’ll never forget. I was one of the lucky ones though. Thousands of people lost their homes and possessions in the super storm.

When I heard about Oh Sandy! it seemed like a personal calling. I’m a writer. I lived through the hurricane. And I’m from New Jersey. Plus, I can be funny when I put my mind to it. And so it went. I composed a piece about a hilariously lame weekend my sister, our friend, and I spent down the shore in Belmar. I made sure to weave as many “Jersey” themes as I could–The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Springsteen, Parkway traffic, and more.

What’s great about this publication is that all proceeds go straight to those affected most by the storm.

If interested in supporting me (yay! I got published) the hurricane cause, or perusing a new read, see below:

Purchase the ebook here.

Purchase the print edition here.

Or,  simply visit the website here for more information or to check it out.

Thanks to all my readers for your continued support.

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Filed under Breaking Through, Inspiration

They Call Me The Wanderer: A Letter to My Readers

To My Readers:

There’s been a common theme running through my dreams the past several nights: Losing My Way.

In one dream, I was going the wrong direction on a busy highway. People blasted their horns, yelled curses. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to turn around. Readjust myself. Find my way.

Last night I dreamt of being at a cousin’s house down the shore. I went for a walk and couldn’t find my way back. I stood on a hill and could see the house. I saw where I wanted to go, but I just couldn’t get there. I walked in circles, losing my breath, my feet aching, only to find myself back in the same place that I started.

Finally I came across a stranger—a short woman with a cropped hair cut—and asked her for directions. I followed her instructions and it led me to a shallow swimming pool with clear blue water. Apparently, it seemed, it was necessary that I walk through this water in order to arrive home. I dreaded getting my shoes wet, but saw no other alternative. When I eventually made it, a black dog the size of a pony was there to greet me. He leapt onto his hind legs and hugged me the way a human would. I laughed and laughed.

"Beyond the horizon"Sunset Beach, Cape May Point, July 2010

“Beyond the horizon”
Sunset Beach, Cape May Point, July 2010

So what does it all mean?

Well, for one thing I am directionally impaired. My inner-navigation system is shot. In fact, I’ve been known to get lost even with the GPS. My husband likes to joke that the Dion song “The Wanderer” was written about me: They call me the wanderer, yeah the wanderer, I roam around and round and round and round…

But dreams often carry more metaphorical interpretations. Perhaps I’m mentally lost? Emotionally lost? Spiritually lost? Psychologically lost? Answer? All of the above.

It’s a rare person who knows exactly what she was born to do. I was born to write. Does that mean I’m destined to be the next Danielle Steel? Of course not. But during these past two months I’ve done a lot of self-reflection, and realized, with more certainty than I’ve ever had in my whole life, that if I don’t write in some shape or form during my time here on earth, I may never feel complete.

You may have noticed that I’ve all but disappeared since the holidays. I truly have lost my way. Things happened. Life got busy. I went through a very weepy, “blue” period. I lost track of my writing life. Maybe it was burnout. Lack of confidence. Mixed up priorities. There’s no real good explanation for it—though I imagine any writer out there reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a compulsion that has the ability to make us miserable, yet we can’t resist. We aren’t physically able to.

We lose our way sometimes. We ride the wrong direction. We know exactly where we want to be, but can’t seem to get there (Hmm…sounds just like my dream).

That being said…I’m back! And I’d like to share with you my plans for The Intrinsic Writer 2013:

Saturdays: I will be beginning a new feature called “Serene Saturdays” where I’ll share new and different ways to “relax.” A life goal of mine is to achieve that oh-so-elusive peace of mind. I’m no Deepak Chopra—which is partly why I’m doing this, to teach myself to relax—but I’d love to reveal the small, everyday things that help me cope with stress.

Sundays: Old School Sundays will continue!

Tuesdays: My featured posts on the life and craft of writing fiction and more!

It’s a new year for all of us. What I’ve learned during my brief reflection period is that it’s OK to hide out for a while, to lose your way, so to speak; so long as you come back regenerated and stronger than before. I’m grateful for my life, this blog, all of you followers, and of course, that special knowledge that tells me to do what I absolutely need to do to survive.

-Katie

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Far Out: Writing fiction set in different decades

I’ve always been fascinated by decades past, particularly those before my birth.  My novel spans the ‘70s and ‘80s, and I’ve written short stories set in similar periods. It’s not easy to capture the ‘vibe’ of another decade, because it goes beyond saying, “My story is set in the seventies so I’ll have my characters watch The Brady Bunch.”  Dropping popular celebrity names, fashion styles, or any peppering of timely—and obvious—pop culture references will not do the setting’s vibe justice.

When I first began to research my novel’s era, I was biting off more than I could chew. Countless hours were spent memorizing hairdos, current events, slang terms, and more. None of which, might I add, turned out to be successful in creating my story’s (totally far out) vibe. In movies and television shows these elements may be important due to their visual natures, but it doesn’t work the same way in literature. Though some well-placed epoch-relevant allusions work well, there is no need to constantly remind the reader what decade it is. The groove should take care of itself.

Nicolas Raymond → in Objects

So taking a step back and re-analyzing the situation, I found that taking a broad, academic approach to researching a different decade works wonders. Take any ten year period and think about the big picture. What were people’s hopes and fears at the time? What philosophies surrounded the era? This is what I mean by vibe.

Two great books have aided my process:

Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and The Making of Eighties America  by Phillip Jenkins

Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now–Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything by David Sirota

Both books gave a comprehensive overview of the 1970’s and 1980’s, respectively. Just having a sense of the overall climate of the two decades gave me tremendous insight.

In the meantime, I’ve developed some strategies to live by when researching the glory days:

  1. Peruse books, magazines, and newspapers from the era. I got lucky when my father-in-law came across boxes of old Newsweek compilation books in his garage. The books were categorized by year.  From obscure cigarette brands to long-forgotten car models, vintage kitchen equipment, and not to mention, the big stories of the day, these books greatly contributed to my setting’s ‘vibe.’
  2. Watch television shows, movies, and music videos (if applicable, otherwise, listen to the music) of the era. Also, read books written during the era. Particularly with film and television, this helps with the visuals. The semi-faded backgrounds, the slower day-to-day pace, the humor, and of course, the ‘look and feel’ of the decade. Translate this into the writer’s mind, and somehow, magically, it ends up on the page. I’ve made a point to watch movies like Saturday Night Fever, The Breakfast Club, and other pop culture classics circa…well, fill in the blank. Nick at Nite can be helpful, as can old episodes of Saturday Night Live.
  3. Watch television shows, movies, music videos, and read books that portray a different era. Get some ideas on how it’s been done. Which ones are believable? That 70s show, Happy Days, Mad Men, and The Wonder Years come to mind. As do films such as Dazed and Confused, Rock Star, The Sandlot, Forrest Gump and A League of Their Own.Some great fiction that depict the days of yore? Try Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone, Jodi Picoult’s Second Glance (Told in parts during the 1930s—what a feat!), and of course, many more.

My main point in this: the details do matter, but so does the bigger backdrop. Establishing setting (either time or place) on details alone just won’t do the trick. The vibe is crucial, even in its most subtle forms. Without the vibe, the story’s just stuck in some timeless purgatory.

Have you ever written in an era other than this one? Did you go back even further (in other words, a ‘real’ historical novel)? What was your experience like? How do you capture ‘the vibe?’

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Breaking Through, The Setting, The Writing Life, Writing Tips

Give intuitive revision some credit!

As a subscriber to numerous magazines (both print & online) and newsletters, I am constantly being offered writing aid, help, and advice. Correction. I am constantly being sold writing aid, help, and advice. Register today and save 30% on an all-exclusive, one-time webinar How to Write Fiction Like a Pro. Last chance to purchase Sam Canwrite (but you can’t)’s bestseller Back to the Pit! Seven Reasons This Book Won’t Help You Achieve Your Writing Goals and Reach National Stardom. Do I sound bitter? I’m not, actually. In fact, I often feel that I should be buying these books, that I should be attending these seminars. But then I stop and wonder if Agatha Christie was ever offered tutorials on structuring plot, or if Charlotte Bronte ever got invited to attend a lecture on character development, or if Mark Twain ever purchased a book entitled The Essentials of Comedic Writing.

Somehow, I doubt it. The question then becomes what did these past greats have that we don’t have? Is it possible to learn the craft of writing through trial and error? Do I need to fork over large wads of cash to become a better writer? (Says the sucker who spent thousands on a graduate level writing degree). In all seriousness though, much of what I’ve learned about the process, I did in three ways:

1. By writing
2. By reading
3. Critique groups (both in and outside the classroom)

To clarify, when I say “reading” I typically mean other novels, though I’ve come across a limited number of useful guidebooks as well.

Recently, I’ve begun my novel’s fifth revision, and believe me when I tell you that only now (after more than a year) have I fully begun to understand what it takes to write a book. My point is this, for the most part I’ve ignored the gimmicks and gadgets and I’ve set about figuring this writing thing out on my own. And trust me, I’m still no expert. But I will share with you what I’ve learned about the art of writing fiction based purely on my own experiences:

Chapter Segmentation: If I look back at my novel’s initial draft, the chapters have no delineation. It’s essentially a giant brain dump. I start and end in random places, sometimes right in the middle of the action. Some chapters are three pages long, others are fifteen pages long (which is often OK to do, so long as it’s effectively planned out; mine were not, of course). Last spring my thesis advisor told me that I ‘bury my gems.’ In other words, I stick the great, terse, one- liners that would otherwise make fabulous chapter openers/closers in the middle of the third paragraph in.

I’ve learned to write my chapters as mini-stories within the bigger story. Each chapter should be able to stand on its own, but remain linked to the overall big picture. It’s sort of like an episode of Mad Men or Breaking Bad—each episode has its own conflict, but often draws from previous conflicts or prepares for future conflicts. My chapters are now sorted into segments with strong openings and closings. Together they make up pieces the story is made of.

The Scene Shuffle: Anyone who writes with serious intent knows that many, many, words that are written will never see the light of day. This is one-hundred percent true. The first draft of my book has scenes the second draft never became acquainted with and so on. I’ve learned to distinguish which scenes make the cut, and which ones don’t. Often the slashed content adds nothing to the broader purpose of the story. Sometimes it disrupts the flow the action, causing the reader to literally ‘halt.’ Other times it is just weak and ineffective, and isn’t worth revising. Plus, in other cases, a major plot point gets reversed or altered and then these scenes simply become irrelevant. This is a very important skill to master. It says a lot about the final outcome of the book. I haven’t mastered it yet; I’ve just gotten better at it.

I’ve also learned to identify my ‘pivotal’ scenes and slow…them…down. Another key piece of advice I got from my thesis advisor was that I tend to rush through my biggest, most dramatic scenes. It’s as if the content matter (that I, myself, created) makes me queasy and I just want to move away from it. I now know that these scenes are what make a book memorable. So write it over…again, again, and again.

Characterization is a broken record: This is key: in order to really get a character’s thoughts, feelings, motives, and even personality across to the reader, you must beat it like a dead horse. The reader needs constant reminders of your characters’ obsessions, their desires, their needs. If an 18-year old female protagonist is yearning for acceptance from her absentee father, I need to hear her say this throughout the story many times over. Casually mentioning it the beginning won’t suffice. She needs to bemoan this yearning. She needs to have flashbacks. She needs to discuss it with her friends. She needs to act a certain way and say certain things in her father’s presence. She has to physically attempt to please him and fail over and over again. Otherwise, she’s just a stick figure no one can relate to or feel something for.

Research first!: Any research that needs to be done for the story (i.e. a character has a medical issue, the setting is World War II Russia, etc.) should probably be done ahead of time. At least in my case, I will not write one word of my next novel until I’ve done a fair amount of research on the book’s topic. What I am finding as I revise my current novel is once the words are down, the characters are created, the plot is structured,  and the tension is building,  it’s a lot harder to insert facts, statistics, and other likely observations in the midst of an already thriving scene. It’s not impossible, but it’s more difficult. If research is done prior to writing, then the revision process is simply fixing text that is already accurate.

Time is on your side: It takes many drafts to fully understand the world you’ve created. Writing is a journey of discovery (perhaps the best part), but at some point, a destination must be reached. That being said, once it is clear how the story begins, develops, and ends, can the proper adjustments be made. Seeds can be planted, characters can transform, and connections between this and that can be made. It is a process no doubt, and there’s no use in rushing.

I don’t know if I can call these tidbits I’ve just shared advice, or if they are merely the realities of the writing process. They aren’t even necessarily facts, unshakable truths about fiction writing—or any writing for that matter. Instead, I’ll call them lessons I’ve taught myself, lessons that have presented themselves to me (with help, of course) as I’ve grown as a writer. I didn’t unlock these pearls of wisdom by attending a single class or reading a book on craft. And while I am truly not knocking these tools created to help writers, the truth is, they are worth nothing if the writer herself doesn’t put them to use.

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Filed under Breaking Through, Revision, Writing Process, Writing Tips

Just maybe

“We, and I think I’m speaking for many writers, don’t know what it is that sometimes comes to make our books alive. All we can do is to write dutifully and day after day, every day, giving our work the very best of what we are capable. I don’t think that we can consciously put the magic in; it doesn’t work that way. When the magic comes, it’s a gift.”
—Madeleine L’Engle

It’s true. I wonder everyday if what I’m writing is good enough, interesting enough, worthy enough. I dreamed that one of my short stories received an honorable mention in a particular contest. When I woke, feeling jubilant no doubt, I realized that I never submitted that story to said contest. I’d let the deadline pass, assumed another rejection. My dream woke me up (no pun intended). What I really let pass was an opportunity.

They’ll be more contests. Not all is lost. But maybe my subconscious is telling me that it’s possible. Everyday I pray, not for success or fame or bestselling novels, but for belief. To dare believe I can do this. Perhaps it’s working? I’m pushing myself to break through?

I’m not sure that what I’m doing is groundbreaking. To be honest, that’s not really my intention. All I truly want is to believe. Yes, that and both the liberty and leisure to able to write more. My whole life maybe. This sounds so pseudo-inspirational. But to me it’s actually very important. Regardless of what happens.

So I won’t stop. I’ve been rewriting my novel and discovering all the things it didn’t have the first time around. Now it does. It brings me personal happiness each day. In this endeavor that’s all I can hope for. If not for that, I don’t have much. I’m glad I’m learning to understand this.

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Filed under Breaking Through, Inspiration, The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Details, Writing Fears, Writing Process, Writing Tips

Autonomy

“Writing is like being in love. You never get better at it or learn more about it. The day you think you do is the day you lose it. Robert Frost called his work a lover’s quarrel with the world. It’s ongoing. It has neither a beginning nor an end. You don’t have to worry about learning things. The fire of one’s art burns all the impurities from the vessel that contains it.”
—James Lee Burke

This is essentially true. But as both intrinsic writers and student writers we do learn rules. Lots and lots of rules. Endless rules about characterization, plot, structure, dialogue, thematic undercurrents, and on and on. And yes, there is a basic format to a piece of writing. It has to be organized–this organization takes on many, many, forms, but it still must have a form.

So maybe we can ‘learn’ things about writing, but it seems like everywhere I look the rules are being broken. Maybe that’s why Burke is saying the ‘learning process,’ in a sense doesn’t really exist in writing.

I’ve heard countless critiques about my characters and their lack of dimensions, yet then I read a published piece in a literary magazine where the characters don’t have names, backgrounds, anything. They’re shadows who live in a timeless space. Do we learn the rules to ignore them? Or is there a certain recipe to follow regardless?

I think every piece of writing must work in spite of itself. It has to operate in its best capacity as it stands. Any reader can tell when a story, poem, essay has value. It’s isolated from every other story, poem, or essay. Maybe once an intrinsic learns all the learns he or she can pick and choose the ones he or she wants to incorporate into the piece.

As a child I learned how to print my letters. Then I learned cursive. Now my handwriting is a unique hybrid of the two. Maybe writing is like that. But then again, I don’t really know.

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Filed under Breaking the Rules, Breaking Through, Characters, Description, Inspiration, Plot & Structure, Revision, The Writing Life, Writing Process

Love Thy Writing

The most important thing is you can’t write what you wouldn’t read for pleasure. It’s a mistake to analyze the market thinking you can write whatever is hot. You can’t say you’re going to write romance when you don’t even like it. You need to write what you would read if you expect anybody else to read it.

And you have to be driven. You have to have the three D’s: drive, discipline and desire. If you’re missing any one of those three, you can have all the talent in the world, but it’s going to be really hard to get anything done.”
—Nora Roberts

This is legitimate advice: Love Thy Writing. Whenever I read a book that I love, it lingers…days after I’ve finished, weeks after I’ve finished, months after I’ve finished, and yes, years, sometimes. I’ll catch glimpses of it in my mind at various, unexpected moments. It’ll shoot waves of comfort through me, no matter if what kind of situation–pleasant or unpleasant–I am in.

I know I love my own novel, because it too, catches me in the midst of my day. I see the images, I feel the characters, and I sink into the setting. Sometimes it’s as if it were another person’s work, not my own. I imagine that this is a good sign; after all, I’ve written a novel that I adore, that I cherish. I’ve formulated such a story that if I were to ever come across it in a bookstore, I’d pick it up, take it home, and devour it. I’d long to spend Saturday night at home with it. I’d read it in days, or maybe even hours. Upon completion, I’d press it against my heart and wrap my arms tightly around it. OK, maybe not so dramatic-like, but something to that effect. Either way, I’d feel the ripples of the tale undulating throughout my being. And in a small, but significant way, I’d be forever changed.

Is this to say that my book has this kind of mega power? It can magnetically grip all who treads upon it? No, sadly, I don’t believe that’s the case. My wish, my life goal though, is that someone will…love my book that is. Of course by someone, I mean other than me. I know it’s not perfect, and frankly, in writing, nothing ever is. I’m aware of the work it needs, and I plan on seeing that through. But it’s comforting to know that I do, in fact, love my book. I love it. So much. That fact alone makes all the painstaking revision, all the doubt, all the self-torture one-hundred and fifty percent worth the while.

Any intrinsic writer must enjoy his or her story. It comes with the territory. I used to wonder if musicians or singers loved their own songs. I imagine they must, they have to. At least the ones who write the songs themselves, anyway. I just can’t imagine the process being any other way.

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Filed under Breaking Through, Characters, Inspiration, The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Details, Writing Fears, Writing Process

It’s very important that you do

“You need that pride in yourself, as well as a sense, when you are sitting on Page 297 of a book, that the book is going to be read, that somebody is going to care. You can’t ever be sure about that, but you need the sense that it’s important, that it’s not typing; it’s writing.”
—Roger Kahn

Over a year ago, around the time I began composing my novel, I dreamed of seeing a paperback with the book’s title etched across the front cover lying amidst a plain, white background. I felt so excited in the dream, so accomplished. It seemed real, somehow. Feasible. Not without a ton of work, of course. But I awoke feeling relieved. Maybe it does matter that I do this, is what I thought.

Last semester, in my final pre-thesis graduate course, my professor, in response to reading my proposal said she was highly impressed that I’d written an entire first draft of a novel. “It must take a lot of confidence,” she said, “to know that you can do that,” (I apologize if I’ve misquoted). I had never looked at it that way. Certainly there were some days when ‘confident’ was the last thing I felt in terms of writing the story. But on deeper reflection, I found that the three D’s–desire, discipline, dedication–despite sounding like something off a motivational poster, is in fact, the recipe for confidence in writing, in any endeavor, really.

There aren’t a lot of guarantees in being an intrinsic writer. I have to remind myself everyday that this is something I have to do, whether it amounts to anything or not. Underneath the frustration, the labor, and the self-torture lies a kind of quintessential joy that emanates through my fingers, onto the keyboard, and finally the page. It is important. Know that. Believe it.

And I encourage all of you intrinsic types to keep writing. Because it does matter that you do.

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I defend my right to write

“The real writer learns nothing from life. He is more like an oyster or a sponge.”
—Gore Vidal

I want to talk about this one for a bit. What makes a real writer? Extensive travel? Interesting parents, background, etc.? Exemplary intelligence? Does it take having something ‘special?’ Luck, perhaps? All of the above?

If so, well, I’m in trouble. Often when I meet or read/hear about other writers, there seems to be a cloud of “interesting-ness” (I’m aware that I just forged a word) surrounding them. Their fathers were award winning professors who drank a lot, their mothers were mentally unstable poets, they’ve been married and divorced ten times, they lived in Sri Lanka for two years, and Venice for three. Now they live in either a bustling, ambitious, intellectual city (i.e. New York) or in some lovely country home–lakefront, oceanfront, etc.

I have no clue where I’m getting this from. Of course it’s not even true. But somewhere in my mind, I believe it is, especially in comparison to my own life, which I’m readily willing to admit is frankly, ordinary. Happy, safe, wonderful, but ordinary.

Yet, I’m still a writer inside, an intrinsic writer that is. Is there a difference between a ‘real’ writer and an ‘intrinsic’ one? Can one decide to become a writer at a point in life after an array of odd and uncanny experiences? Is that possible? Or does the urge always have to be there? What if it’s all one’s got? No therapist’s dream of a childhood, no complexities of love or of the heart, no real travel except for 5 nights in Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding (OK, I’ve been to more places), and no living abroad. Just the natural inclination to write, write, write?

Well then, I suppose that’s all there is. I defend my right to write.

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Filed under Breaking the Rules, Breaking Through, Inspiration, The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Fears