Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lessons Learning

For the past couple weeks I’ve been writing up a storm. I haven’t had this much fun stringing together words since before I started querying. After a long dry spell, depression break, I was beginning to wonder if I’m a writer at all—perhaps this writing thing is just another one of the many projects I have undertaken and completed, and now it’s time to move on. I hated to resign myself to that, butwell, writers write, and I wasn't writing. At all.

There are a number of creative outlets I enjoy and have become proficient at, some of which I have never gone back to, but the two endeavors to which I always return are painting and writing. Art has always had the upper hand. There is something about the visual that allows me the immediate satisfaction of knowing I’ve improved. It’s tangible. I can see it in front of me. I still see the flaws, but the results are good enough to pleasantly surprise me. Being married to an accomplished artist helps—he’s always there, with validations. He’s honest and I trust his opinion.

Writing has been an altogether different experience. Yes, I am one of those insecure artist types, always looking for validation within a very subjective realm. How will I know if or when I’m good enough? And ‘Good Enough’ for what? To impress friends and family? For publication? Will my husband or my sister tell me? Or perhaps a fellow writer. Perhaps an agent, reviewer of publisher?

If I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past few years of writing and blogging, I have learned ten times as much in the span of two months, while writing nothing—while not even being able to read because I allowed it to make me feel even more inadequate. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

• I hate feeling as if I have wasted time with nothing of value to show for it.
• I have learned that ‘value’ is very subjective.
• I’ve learned that the ultimate validation only exists in the form of self-acceptance.

• That the euphoria I experience when fully immersed in writing can not be reduced to words. It can not be measured against the critical eye of another.
• I love my stories, and I love my characters and I love the imaginary worlds I have built.

All of these are things I already knew intellectually, but now I’m finally getting it. I know I will continue to have my moments, but at least I can refer back to this post, where I have declared it to the world…


  1. This is such an honest, true post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Brave post! Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

    I'm at a creative impasse, wondering what's next, while trying to beat back that bear, the "Writer's Block" conversation — a lazy fallacy that I suspect keeps a lot of us from experimenting or pausing to listen deeply to ourselves, the product of a factory model of constant production and competition foisted on us by the media, whose only relationship to art is through criticism, review, and other measurements like constantly putting artworks together on a greyhound track and firing a gun at them.

    This is my run-on sentence for the day :)

    I'm happy to hear you're coming out the other side of a contemplative rest period in your creative life and feeling good about it.

  3. The imagination the enables us to create new characters and worlds is the same element that tries to veil the real world with doubts and what-ifs. I just accept it as part of the territory and move one!

  4. Christine, Thanks for stopping by and leaving your feedback. I really do appreciate it. :)

    Hamish, It’s always a delight to have you visit. And I think your run-on sentence perfectly sums up the dilemma we face as the free-spirited artist-types, as only a run-on sentence can. I love the visual of how the media etc is “constantly putting artworks together on a greyhound track and firing a gun at them.” I have to laugh at the truth of it. Why do we buy into that whole rigmarole?

    I have always admired how you have taken independent publishing to a whole new level. Even while I’ve pursued traditional publishing, and consider self-publishing, your determination and example are always brewing in the back of my mind…a seed of inspiration.

    Rick, It’s tricky business, navigating this territory. We do have the gift of imagination, coupled with the drive to articulate it and follow it through to completion. I think it’s that investment which makes the path that much more treacherous at times, especially if we’re not prepared. It helps knowing there are others on the same journey—that it is doable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

  5. Seems to be a day of truths. I just posted on failure.

    There are tough days sometimes in this journey. Hopefully less bad ones than goot though.

  6. Claire, Your post was excellent! I particularly liked your point that even with a so-called failure, there are lessons learned. There really are no wasted experiences, and sometimes the harder the experience, the bigger and more meaningful the lesson.

  7. Perhaps something you've painted can inspire a novel idea? I'm glad you've returned to writing though.

    I have doubts during dry spells - or times when I have a lot of beginning ideas and can't develop past the first 10 pages or so. Inspiration/motivation is hard work :)


  8. Donna, it is true that it's hard to sustain the momentum that writing requires. I love those little snippets of plots that get me all excited--but where to go with them? At any rate, they are ideas that can be filed away for future use...

  9. "All of these are things I already knew intellectually, but now I’m finally getting it."

    I think this is one reason why it's so hard to talk about some parts of the writing life. There are just things that must be felt instead of learned. I'm excited to read this post! I'm glad you are enjoying it. I have been really enjoying my own writing for about a year now, and it has such a calming effect on me. I'm happier and having more fun. I want my writing to stay that way.

  10. Domey, I've read so many posts dealing with this and related issues, but I have been too hung up on all the rules I was learning, trying to 'perfect' my writing. While all that helped me improve and develop, I became too goal-oriented and lost the joy of the process. I do hope that having fun with it again, combined with the sheer pleasure of writing brings an even better result. If not--at least I'm having fun. the way, I just received my copy of The Wild Grass and other stories--can't wait to see what you've been up to! :)

  11. Those are some valuable lessons you've learned there (even if their value is, by definition, subjective). Kudos to you for baring your soul like this and sharing your thoughts with us.

    Oh, and if your writing euphoria can't be boiled down to words, how about expressing it in an image? That's worth approximately 1000 words on the open market.

    I wish you the best as you push forward with your literary endeavors.

  12. Oh, I love this post. I love that you at least have put in some words what you've experienced. Your list is especially lovely, and I hope you can refer back to it if you're feeling down about your writing at any time. I just want you to know how much I enjoyed what I have read of yours, and I think it would be a shame to see you stop due to any outside pressures at all. I know I've come to the point where I've felt like quitting before. Many times, actually, and recently. Publishing doesn't seem to change much of anything, like I talked about in my post today. It just overshadows the real reasons why I write, so it's important to keep things in perspective.

    I think you're keeping things in perspective, and that makes me happy. :)

  13. Nate, Thanks for the grin! I think it would be really fun to be in psycho-therapy (with the emphasis on PSYCHO) with someone like you!

    Alas, I haven’t even been painting these days, though I am building up to something new and brave—brave and new for me, anyway…

    Michelle, several of the posts you wrote over the past month—Truly Write; Writing Isn’t About the Big Publishing Deal; Some Will Hate it, Some Will Burn the Beans…—really resonated with me. Alas, I was in such a funk, I couldn’t even bring myself to comment.

    ...but, In the back of my mind, your kind support has meant a great deal to me and helped me to put things back in perspective. Thanks! :)