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I’ve been musing about…

June 23, 2008

writing and why it fascinates me so much. Rachelle at Rants & Ramblings, On Life As a Literary Agent, wrote about this today, and now the blog post which has been percolating in my brain must pour out or blow the top.

I noticed the other day while reading some favorite blogs that several bloggers have listed on their reading list and bookshelves various books about writing, writing well, writing excellently and so on. I thought, “What is it about bloggers that because we have a blog we fancy ourselves writers?”

I am not being snarky. I have a blog, and I fancy myself a writer. But why? I’m not seeking publication of the drivel I write. Even when I write something I might think particularly good, just one constructive criticism by Husband, and I’m ready to close down the blog. So why all the interest in writing and wanting to be a better writer?

I remember 4th grade Ms. Lunn. She was a young, brunette, single bombshell of a teacher that all the 4th grade boys had a crush on, and she loved to make us write creatively. We had a creative writing notebook, and every day she wrote a topic on the board, in chalk no less, for us to ponder and then write on for 20 minutes. The topics were strange to me. Not my favorite color sort of stuff or even what type of animal would you be, but things like “If I had duck’s feet…” or “Living underwater would mean…” I suppose she had come right out of Teaching Creative Writing 101.

Being a paralyzed perfectionist* on things like this, just writing and letting my mind flow and create and dream, was all a little much. I had some sort of internal editor going off with every comma and verb tense and capitalization. Exhausting. Ms. Lunn was not deterred. She told us that she wouldn’t check our work at all. She only wanted us to write.

Wow. It was almost too much freedom for this girl, but write I did, and I loved it.

Fast forward to college where I needed a second major that would fit into the available classes so I could graduate in three years and get married. (That’s another story.) English fit the bill because I loved to read, and I loved to write. Bingo. Plus, my adviser was an English professor, and he could pull the drop add strings if necessary.

Blah, blah, blah. That would be the summation of writing during the college years. Let’s keep going with my point.

Fast forward to being a mom of three boys and unable to complete a thought in this testosterone household before being asked a question or having to clean up another mess. The blog was born, and the Hallelujah chorus played.

Not.

Because then I realized that the internal editor had not died a thousand deaths, and blogging meant the pressure of deadlines, and of priorities, and memes and themes, and will anyone comment, and do I even strive for standing amongst the popular blogs? Oy vey, again.

So is my problem fancying myself a writer and not being one, or fancying myself a writer and needing to improve on the actual writing so that I can be published? Is being published even really what I want?

Then it niggled at my mind. I like cooking, and I fancy myself a cook of sorts, but not Paula Deen. I like to watch cooking, read about cooking, invest in cookbooks, and certainly love experimenting with a recipe every single time I cook. (I’m infamous for this last one.) Point: One of my hobbies is cooking.

I like writing, and I fancy myself a writer of sorts, but not pick-your-favorite-author-person. I like to read about writing, practice writing, invest in books about writing, and certainly love experimenting with the craft of writing every time I pick up a pen or open the laptop. I may never be famous for this, but one of my hobbies is certainly writing.

Being published would be like winning the Pillsbury Bake Off. It doesn’t have to happen for me to still enjoy the hobby. Thanks for coming along.

*My thanks to Veronica Mitchell for the coinage of this phrase which has more than once encapsulated my feelings on the topic of perfectionism. Now, she’s a writer.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2008 8:30 pm

    Well, I certainly enjoy and benefit from reading your posts, and if a book is in your future I’ll stand in line to buy it. Write on, girl! You do have a way with words.

    My family is glad that I cook better than I write; otherwise they’d starve on such meager fare. No writing aspirations here. I didn’t realize (duh) that most bloggers have publishing fantasies.

    And yes, Veronica Mitchell has quite a way with words too.

  2. Veronica Mitchell permalink
    June 24, 2008 12:34 am

    Thank you for the compliment. If I remember correctly, “paralyzed perfectionist” is a term my sister coined to explain me to myself, so I’m afraid I can’t take credit for it.

    Before I had my blog, I used to write about fifteen letters a week. I thought of myself as a writer then, too, even though it was a purely private kind of writing. I see my blog as an extension of letter-writing (and a kind of replacement of it, too, since I rarely write letters anymore). Writing letters is a skill, and it takes time and effort and talent to do it well. Blogging has become what pen-pals were 100 years ago, back when people deliberately tried to cultivate the skill of letter-writing.

  3. June 24, 2008 2:58 am

    “Being published would be like winning the Pillsbury Bake-Off.”
    LOL!!!

    I read books about writing mostly just because I want to be a better writer. I don’t seriously have my sights set on being published, though I think that would be awesome.

  4. June 24, 2008 3:49 am

    I had a comment formulated in my head. But Veronica’s is so insightful, I find myself wanting to say, “Yeah. What she said.”

    I think of myself as a writer because it’s part of who I have been ever since I was a child. I write. I journal. I use words as my paintbrush. I tell stories.

    I don’t really have a desire to be published. To me, that is the difference between a writer and an author.

  5. June 25, 2008 12:55 am

    I linked to your blog from Amy Scott’s site.

    I share all of your questions about writing and appreciate your answers.

  6. June 26, 2008 1:44 pm

    I never miss your posts. Too much good stuff!

    Sometimes I write as therapy. The difficult part is when I really need to write about something that’s happening in my life or something I’m rolling around in my head, but I feel I can’t because it might hurt someone’s feelings if they read about themselves and don’t like it.

    It makes me want to create an anonymous blog.

  7. June 27, 2008 1:35 am

    I struggle more with these issues after She Speaks, plus I do the same thing to myself with designing and photography. Why do we expect (unattainable) perfection in ourselves?

  8. June 27, 2008 3:43 pm

    I second what Julie Stiles Mills says! But on I write…

    Oh hi! I’m Tara

  9. June 30, 2008 6:40 pm

    Are in my brain or WHAT? “the internal editor had not died a thousand deaths, and blogging meant the pressure of deadlines, and of priorities, and memes and themes, and will anyone comment, and do I even strive for standing amongst the popular blogs?” Me, totally! This post echoes much of what has been percolating in my mind which will now no doubt in an explosion of (what else?) writing, as in a post of my own…

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