So I sat awake at 3:30 this morning, staring into the empty abyss that is a blank white computer screen and had not a single coherent idea. The cursor blinked at me, mocking my lack of creativity so I started making fun of myself and my writing process on Twitter. See example below…
<Me reading my own work like…#writerslife #writerproblems #writersblock #fml>
I began making memes for how I was feeling, mostly at my own expense and as I started posting them other writers from around the globe started liking and retweeting them!
I thought “I’m not alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
and then I thought “just wait a freakin’ minute here…all the times I have shamelessly self promoted what I felt was a most magical piece of work and not a single like or share, but the moment I start with the self-deprecating humor my computer screen is aglow with activity”
But that’s what it’s like to be a writer.
Strangers think it’s a very glamorous job taking you to remote locations, interacting with unique and interesting people and editors heaping praise upon your literary masterpieces.
Friends think how nice it must be to work for yourself, from home with no one to answer to but yourself.
Family members think you’re a free-loading bum who doesn’t shower for days on end and lives on coffee and alcohol…
and let’s not even get into what we think of ourselves…
The truth is, being a writer is anything but glamorous. Most of the time we are delving deep into the places in our minds that most people try to avoid. On occasions IF we manage to spit something out we spend an exorbitant amount of time reading and rereading it to the point that 9 times out of 10 we convince ourselves it’s not worthy of having anyone else read it so it gets scraped into the draft section of our computer only to be re-visited at a later date and hated even more until we finally hit the delete button and vanquish it for good.
On the even rarer occasions when we have the courage to submit something we’ve written and edited to an almost virtual death we have to sit and wait for someone else to scrutinize it and determine if THEY feel it’s worthy of sharing with their readers.
Waiting can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months or more and during that process we sit, stomach in knots, wringing our hands wondering if who we submitted it to is the right fit for our work, if they’ll even understand what we’re trying to say, if they’ll want us to edit it down until the message is no longer what we intended to communicate in the first place and ultimately if anyone, other than our family members will read it beyond obligation.
I have written what I would call “fluff pieces” that have gone viral and pieces that have caused an evolutionary process in my soul that have gone nowhere. I have written things that have taken me years to perfect, that are the embodiment of the mark I want to leave on this earth that have had less views than my kindergarten art work and I have written things that while I was writing I was chanting in my head “this sucks, this sucks, la la la this sucks” that have been read over 300k times.
A writer doesn’t write because they want to, they write because they have to. Writer’s write to lend a voice to a set of complexities stirring in their minds that have nowhere else to go but on paper.
Often times writing leaves you physically exhausted and reclusive because the slightest disruption in our thoughts and we are derailed like a train going way too fast around a much too tight corner. Writer’s sometimes have no way of knowing where that train is going to take them and prefer to go that journey alone because the truth is even we don’t know if the destination is safe until we get there.
Another little known fact is that you have to fight to get paid to write, many publications want you to submit your work for free, which is wonderful for exposure and experience. It’s a privilege to have your work accepted and published. It helps build your audience, teaches you how to tailor your work to fit a certain demographic or niche, pads your resume and gives you the honor of saying “I’m a published writer” but that doesn’t pay the bills. So many of us continue to write for publications that do not pay to keep the gateway open for those who will pay for our content.
When I started writing I thought I was going to be the next Carrie Bradshaw. Even though she was a fictitious character she was based on a REAL person (Candace Brushnell), so naturally I assumed I would be scooped up by a major magazine and whisked off to my bohemian apartment in SOHO. I imagined traveling the world like Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray, Love or of having my inner most thoughts and feelings validated like Cheryl Strayed (Wild).
The truth is that most of us writers have to accept the small victories. I have come to accept that I am going to continue writing until I have nothing left to say and even if I only have an audience of one that will have to be enough. I thrive when I have one reader take the time to comment on a post or who is moved enough to share my work with their own followers.
I have opened my inbox to reveal some of the most profound praise from people across the ocean and have been moved to tears by the kindness of fellow writers who sit with me in a virtual world and hold my hand as I reveal things about myself and my life that I didn’t dare have the audacity to share before I found my voice.
The truth about being a writer is that it is survival in a state of duality that is uncompromising. You have to be willing to bleed ink while applying a tourniquet. It is finding a balance of madness and sanity. It is thriving and withering within oneself. It is being both selfish and selfless.
The truth about being a writer…it is everything.
And for the love of God…please like and share my work, I’m starving over here!!!