I play a keyboard, but I’m not a musician.
I’m a writer. I don’t read a note of music, but every now and then I can compose something beautiful on those black keys.
I am a writer. Every so often someone has to remind me because I have this tendency to forget. Or maybe just take it for granted. That’s when circumstances conspire to slap me upside the head .
When I was just starting out I used to run my ideas past my family. Not because they knew shit about writing (they don’t). But because I needed somebody else’s approval to take the next step. I craved validation like a kid craves sugar.
Now I don’t talk to anyone about what I’m writing. I show them what I’ve written. I’m my own worst critic and while I take in account the criticisms of others, I can’t allow it to shape the work.
…so I was down in the basement engaged in some late summer cleaning (I’ve got too much basement to do it all in spring) and I came across a box filled with rejection letters, notes, tapes, and a book proposal.
“Whoa,” I thought. “Talk about ghosts…”
I sat down and read again all my notes, my proposal and the rejection letters from literary agents. Months of interviews had gone into the research. Every year Jeff Herman’s Guide to Literary Agents came out, I had to buy it. I dutifully sent out my query letters and SASE. I even got a contract from one agent. Too bad he turned out to be a permanent fixture on Predators and Editors as a unreliable goof.
Nothing like a bad experience with a literary agent to do like Marvin Gaye and say, “Makes me wanna holler/way they do my life.”
I had to smile because if I didn’t I’d be pissed at myself for giving up, being a quitter and walking away from the dream I chased for at least four years. I had allowed all the rejection and false starts and setbacks to be the excuse I gave for bailing out.
It used to be I’d hear, “Hey, how’s the book coming?” I’d smile and reply, “Fine. Just waiting to hear back from the agent.” When the wait turned from days to weeks to months, people stopped asking how the book was coming. They knew as well as I did there was no book coming.
Oh, I still write. I have a blog and a few websites I contribute articles and reviews to. It’s not much, but it’s enough to allow me to continue calling myself a writer even if I’m not really enthusiastic what I’m writing about.
Because buzzing in the back of my head like a sound I can’t quite identify is the feeling I should have knocked one more time. Tried just a little bit harder. Gave it one more good shot.
Now I dabble at writing. I still enjoy it, but the joy of writing has faded. I have became that which I once hated: A poseur. A dilettante. Once there was a larger prize I had my eyes on. Now? There’s nothing.
Writers write because we are convinced the world needs what we have to offer it. This only applies when we commit the words to paper. Nobody goes to Barnes & Noble asking for a book that hasn’t been written.
Then I came across this quotation I had written down to remind myself why I was putting myself through this punishment.
No one is asking, let alone demanding, that you write. The world is not waiting with bated breath for your article or book. Whether or not you get a single word on paper, the sun will rise, the earth will spin, the universe will expand. Writing is forever and always a choice – your choice.
~Beth Mende Conny
Dammit, Beth, whoever you are. I hate it when you’re right.
I am thinking I very much need to breathe life once more into this cold corpse of a book idea. I hesitate when I contemplate all the interviewing I will have to do again. I detest transcribing. Writing query letters suck. Getting back on the literary agent merry-go-round is a nightmare.
I can think of a thousand reasons why I don’t want to try and write my book. But only one reason why I know I should.
It’s going to be an itch I can’t scratch if I don’t give it one more good try.