When Does It Start to Count?

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I’m a writer. I’ve said it often enough it must be true. I do spend an inordinate amount of time putting words on paper. Sometimes it is intelligible. Other times it is words all a-jumble and they make little sense even to me. Various threads, trains of thoughts, and story lines wander from my brain to my computer hard drive. Others make their way into my collection of composition notebooks. Some float aimlessly in my head, accessed from time to time but always stored in some distant and little appreciated neuron in my brain.

I do actually write. I’ve written a good number of piecemeal blogs for a host of sites. I’ve endeavored on a few bit pieces for local magazines and publications. I was even a columnist for my college newspaper. Other people have read (and actually enjoyed) my stuff. I’ve been published and paid and that’s what makes a writer, right?

I still just don’t feel it. The stuff I want to write never materializes. But the little stuff that doesn’t cost me much thought effort, the things that I’m told to write about whether I’m really interested in them or not, pop out like linguistic jack in the boxes. I don’t get it. I am a writer, dang nabbit. So why can’t I write what I want to write?

Like most writers, or aspiring writers, or people who think they have a way with words, I constantly find excuses to not write the things I want to write. Some of my favorites and well-used…

  • My house is a mess, I can’t work in a dirty environment.
  • My house is a mess, I feel guilty for writing when I could be cleaning.
  • My house is a mess, I can’t find my computer.
  • My house is a mess, I can’t find my chair.
  • My house is a mess, I can’t find my kid. I really should look for her before I sit down and write.

Ok, so most of them have to do with my house being a mess. Really I could just clean my house and my problems would be solved. Then I would have to fabricate whole new excuses. It’s not a matter of writer’s block. I have plenty to write. It’s a matter of motivation.

I have tried putting a deadline on myself. And then ignored it. I’ve tried co-writing with someone else. Perhaps my desire not to let others down would keep me motivated.  This should have been even more true that my co-writer is also my best friend, CS Jameson. That worked for quite some time. And then our lives and children and husbands (she still has one) demanded our time and attention and we lost momentum. We let our project sit idle for nearly a year and when we finally picked it back up we had lost all sense of enthusiasm for the story. We ended up scrapping forty some odd chapters of work.

I’ve tried freewriting, pre-writing, outlines, and researching. I’ve tried developing characters to the point that I start to believe they are real and drawing pictures of the worlds and rooms and places they exist. I’ve written outside, inside, on my laptop and by hand. Hell, I even spent a while pecking away at an old-fashioned typewriter. And I still have little more than disjointed ideas, most of the best ones still trapped in my head. Even my own blog suffers for a severe lack of attention.

But tell me to write a story about a dog and POOF! I can pump out 1500 words in a hour and a half and I’m not even a dog-person. I am asked to write a script for a service at church and two hours later I can bring people to tears. (OK, so it was my mom. It still counts.) I’m told at work to write a brief biography of a fellow employee and forty-five minutes sees my piece being hocked to the news outlets as a shameless plug for my employer. My blog editor makes an emergency call for submissions and I can drop a full blog with links in twenty minutes. I’m not ashamed of any of these things. In fact, I’m quite proud of them. But do they count? Yes, they are my words but not my topics. When does your writing start to count?

It all works toward my portfolio, I know. So, really they all count right now. But it still doesn’t feel like it. Perhaps its a matter of re-defining what a piece needs to be considered my writing. So what if the concept was assigned to me? I still took the time and creative effort to turn a one-line idea into a full-blown, tear-jerking, laugh-inducing piece. So I think this one counts too.

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2 responses »

  1. If we aren’t two peas in a rotten pod I don’t know who we are. LMAO!

    You’re getting paid for your work and I thank GOD one of is. I’m still out here, floating in LahLah land with my prose. And my excuses are equally silly though perpetually believed. I keep telling myself I haven’t done enough research, not enough character building, not enough this – or that. *sigh*

    Keep your pen up! Twinnage will prevail!

  2. Deadline, shmedline! It’s almost like you have to have someone give you a writing assignment before something comes out, isn’t it? You can write about anything … except what you want to write about. What gets me is… I’ve had writer’s block for… oh, over a year now, and now I find it’s not so much that I can’t write. No. It’s that… I can’t write here in my comfortable writing nook! NO, I have to be away from home before I can write! And it’s frustrating! I don’t want to go out and write, I want to write here!!

    Somewhere, somehow, it’s got to come back, right? Maybe we should make a sacrifice of our worst manuscripts to the writing gods, in appeal for favor, with promises never to do it again, or something, so they’ll give the golden pens back.

    Hey, it’s worth a shot, right?

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