Carry On

When I wake up in the morning, I grab a cup of coffee, sit down, turn on Pandora, and I blog, write, or work on yearbook (almost done!). This morning, Pandora played the same song for me two times in a row. Carry On by Fun.. It reminded me how you can put CDs on repeat and play them over and over again, reveling in the words that seem so relevant in your life but are sung by a total stranger. How many of you have done that when you’re having a bad day (or a bad breakup)?

Carry On is such a great song. A few years ago, I listened to this song in my darkest days, and it helped me to do just that: carry on. Walk away from the past with open arms toward the future. The future is full of infinite possibilities, and if we didn’t carry on then we’d never have those experiences.

I sat down unsure of what I wanted to blog about this morning. I have been writing, working on a story that took me away from my two previous works in progress. Now that yearbook is almost complete, I’m going to put more effort into blogging more and also into finishing up edits on Little Birdhouses, writing more, and I’m going to start querying again. (Get ready for lots of blog posts about rejection) When I wrote last week, for the first time in awhile, I felt relief wash over me. And it reminded me of the reason I write. I write because I have to. I write because it takes all of my restless energy and turns it into something amazing and beautiful. And because maybe, like I did with Fun.’s song, someone will relate to something I’ve written. The gift of words.

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What Is Writing?

This week I was in a funk. Down in the dumps. Not writing. Woe-is-me. Then, I changed my attitude. I started writing again, and I felt a huge wave of relief run through me. I’m a writer. I’m meant to write. When I don’t write I become morose.

I read an article the other day. It was an article from the New Yorker called Is Writing Torture? A young new writer/waiter in a cafe presented his manuscript to the Philip Roth, and Roth apparently told him “I would quit while you’re ahead.” Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat, Pray, Love was upset by this advice and said writing is a “fucking great” job.

Their different viewpoints on writing don’t surprise me. Look at Roth’s writing. It’s dark. Look at Gilbert’s. Love is magical and wonderful. Life is amazing. Some people think Roth was only kidding. Being the older mentor who threw a curve ball at this kid to see if he would flinch. And some people think Gilbert is not realistic. Writing is not great: it’s hard as fuck!

I think both contradictory views are true. Writing is torture and writing is a “fucking great” job. I need to write. It’s not a want. It’s not a hobby. It’s something deep inside of me. When I don’t write I’m unhappy. Writing’s explicit job in my life is for me to be able to verbally throw up all the shit from inside my brain onto the computer so I feel like I’ve dealt with the crap swirling around in my mind and can move on. Writing is cathartic. Writing is therapy. Writing is a way for me to deal with ideas and thoughts I can’t quite wrap my mind around.

And, no, this does not make writing easy. Nothing about writing is easy. Hey, No Turning Back, my self-published book is currently sitting at a rank of 1,000,000 on Amazon, and I have no idea how to market it to get to more readers. It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s hard to get your name out there. It’s hard to find readers. It’s hard when you write something and you think it’s amazing, and someone else tells you it sucks. But that’s the job just like any other job and you have to roll with the punches and move on. A writer isn’t someone who is going to quit because it’s hard. A writer doesn’t really have that option, because the need to write always rears its ugly head.

The thing about writing I find most difficult is not the writing part. A writer has to wear many hats: editor, marketer, public speaker, etc. Marketing is somewhat of an enigma to me. The point is to have other people spread the word about your work, but I haven’t gotten there yet. And I think a lot of it is a time management problem. With three kids, a day job, and a busy life I simply don’t have as much time as I want to put into it. If it was up to me I’d put a huge amount of time into finding more ways to market my work. But, I’m confident one day I’ll get to the point where I can devote all my time to this job.

So is writing torture? No. It’s a way of life, and life is full of ups and downs.