Writing Sucks

1 Apr

I am trying to write a novel and it sucks.

It sucks for all the reasons I’d expected: the weeks and weeks of writer’s block, the stilted clichés that sneak out the moment you’re not vigilant enough, the grinding frustration of trying unsnarl a set of words that for whatever reason just won’t do what you want them to do. I knew about all that stuff and, on some level, was prepared for it; after all, these are all things that I’ve experienced to some degree as a semi-professional freelance writer. What I wasn’t ready for was my inability to justify writing a book. Every time I open that goddamn Word document all I feel is this rush of ugly panic, and the cloud of oh my god what am I doing why am I doing this displaces every confident thought I’ve managed to muster up.

Here’s what I’ve realized: I am afraid of creative writing in large part because I’m worried that it will be a waste of my time and resources. I’m worried that it will take away from the other work that I do – including unpaid gigs like this blog – and that in the end the measurable satisfaction that I get out of writing a novel will be less than the effort I put into it.

Even more paralyzing is the fact that I know I’m not supposed to feel this way. Art is supposed to be this thing that you do because you’re a Very Special Person who has to create or else you’ll die. That’s why artists starve, right? Because their passion is noble and authentic and above the heights of reason, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to be real and free and I don’t know, whatever other garbage people believe about art. Creativity is supposed to be a calling, and if you worry about failing then you’re Doing It Wrong because you can’t fail if you’re being true to yourself. And forget about considering finances, because real art has nothing to do with money. Talk of money sullies the purity of art.

The thing is, all of that is very high-minded and beautiful, but it’s also not really how shit works.

We live in a culture that simultaneously holds the idea of art up to these ridiculous standards, and at the same time provides very little concrete support for the people actually creating said art. Our society loves the idea that artists are these ascetic geniuses with a single-minded dedication to their craft, a belief that tends to let us off the hook when it comes to funding art. I mean, if artists are going to create art anyway, then why bother offering assistance, financial or otherwise? And really, doesn’t poverty somehow heighten the legitimacy of art? Like, if the art you’re consuming isn’t created by some tortured soul living in a rat-infested tenement, then you might as well be buying framed prints from Ikea and reading Danielle Steel.

If wanting money is crass, then wanting fame  – or, at the very least, some kind of recognition – is worse. Because you’re not supposed to create with an audience in mind; that kind of thinking is for people who use words like “brand” and “content.” A true artist only ever makes things that are a perfect reflection of their most precious ideas, without ever wondering how other people will react. Who cares how people react? People are peasants, and if they don’t understand what you’re trying to communicate then the failure is theirs and theirs alone.

But, like, fuck that. Fuck all of that. Why are people allowed to want money for literally any other job besides creative work? I know writing is supposed to be a vocation or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you only ever do it without expecting payment. I’m not out here expecting free childcare because my son’s daycare teachers are performing a labour of love or whatever. And sure people should be making things that they’re passionate about, but that doesn’t mean they can’t ever possibly consider their potential audience. What is so filthy-dirty wrong about wanting success?

I know that anything that brings you joy is never a waste (uh, I guess unless the pain of others brings you joy, in which case maybe it’s time to reevaluate your life), but I’m tired of pretending that the act of creating itself is the be all and end all in terms of fulfillment. Making money for what you’ve created is also fulfilling; so is receiving praise. If I said that I never thought about either of those things while writing, I’d be lying. So either I’m just not cut out to Write Fiction (which, let’s face it, is entirely possible), or else maybe we need to revisit how we view creativity.

Art is work. Most of the time it’s lonely, boring work. Sometimes you feel your internal needle slide into the groove and you feel unstoppable, but most of the time it’s kind of miserable. And not miserable in a romantic, 19th century painter with a weirdly attractive case of tuberculosis kind of way. Miserable in the sense of I wish I was doing literally anything else but this. But the fact is that you’re still doing it, and that must count for something.

So how do i justify writing a book? I don’t have an answer for that yet. What am I doing and why am I doing it? I don’t know. Will it be worth it? I have no idea. What metrics do you use to determine your own personal satisfaction? The heart wants what it wants. In short: I’ve got nothing. I just want to take this space to acknowledge how sucky creative work can be, and how the high ideals we have about art don’t do much to alleviate that suckiness.

I am trying to write a novel and it sucks.


64 Responses to “Writing Sucks”

  1. Nine Cent Girl April 1, 2015 at 1:19 am #

    “anything that brings you joy is never a waste” You said it!! Have some joy and write!! xxoo

  2. AmazingSusan April 1, 2015 at 1:28 am #

    ha ha ha. Welcome to life and the “real world.”

    been at it for twice as long as you have

    and oh yeah beat ya to it 😛


    #justsaying 😛 🙂

    keep up the good “work”

  3. Deb April 1, 2015 at 1:39 am #

    Your first two paragraphs could literally have my name on them. I can’t even get as far as making the move to sit down and write, mostly because I don’t think anyone will read what I manage to say, if that ever occurs.
    Why did I think writing anything longer than a blog post would be joyful and easy. That idea is full of crap and I commiserate fully with you.

  4. amommasview April 1, 2015 at 1:45 am #

    I am pretty sure everyone has been there and thankfully they continued. Coelho, Grisham, Levy, Rowling… They didn’t stop. So keep writing!

  5. djgourdoux April 1, 2015 at 1:47 am #

    This is excellent. Creating anything of any value isn’t easy and can be a royal pain in the ass. For those of us who are “gifted,” for whom writing in school came easily, it’s a rude awakening when we find out in adult life that it is hard and tedious work. And you’re right, it’s not like we get paid for any of this – plus there are literally millions of titles out there to compete with. But if you stick with it, you’ll have a few of those magic moments again, where you get lost in the work and it takes you to places you didn’t know about. These moments are too few and far between, but they are the reason we who write write, and what those who don’t will never understand.

  6. Cheryl April 1, 2015 at 1:47 am #

    Come on, one of us has to get this sucker done. Let it be you. Tell you what, I’ll race you. You already have a book out, which is one more than I do. Tell the story. It doesn’t have to become a book yet. If you are doing this the way I am, you have pieces of a story that need to be knitted together. Start there. I keep saying I’m in research mode, so that’s my out. You haven’t said that, so I assume you have a story. If you do, just freeform a draft and worry about the perfection later. It’s not going to be perfect for a while anyway. IMO It’s ok if you skip the blog for a while, it will keep. You’ll want to blog about other issues anyway. Think of it this way: if you want to do this, it will happen. Until then, it’s not a good use of energy to turn it into a whipping post with you as the “whip-ee”.

    I am using a timeline app on my smartphone to help me arrange details in the story, and I do “mind maps” to frame out the “outline” of the points I am trying to make. Maybe that will help you. I also have found a mentor in my area that is a professional writer who often has webinars about the craft of writing. I’ll share info with you as they come up, ok?

    Whatever happens, let’s not beat ourselves up, but let’s revisit the progress of this “wish” later this year and see which one of us has more done. It very well might be you. You have way more writing Mojo than I do and plus, I’m tied down with other obligations. If you finish first, I will be among the first to buy a copy, I promise.

    If there is one thing I know well as a creative person, it’s that you can’t force it. You can, however, get into the discipline of a structure, and eventually, the machine gets ramped up and production happens. One day at a time.

  7. Jessica April 1, 2015 at 1:52 am #

    Well you didn’t seem to have writer’s block when writing this blog entry, and you’re an excellent blogger. 😉

    Joking aside, I have the opposite problem – I wrote two novels in 8 months, I’ve published one and I’m still trying to find time to finish editing the second – all while writing bits and pieces on two prequels and another sequel, all of which are outlined. I love it when I have the time for it all, but working full time is what sucks. When I write, I let it live in my head all through-out the day. I write in the morning, on my 15 minute breaks, at lunch, when I get home – yet there is not enough time to consolidate all the little notes I write when I’m not on a break. I live and breathe my characters, and they seem to have a life of their own – one I’m only recording. Inspiration flows and it’s like I’m reading a really good book – only I’m writing it and can’t put it down.

    If writing is such a struggle, are you sure it’s what you want to do, or do you just love the idea of writing? :/

  8. reallyintothewords April 1, 2015 at 2:01 am #

    I’ve read your whole blog and your ebook about being in hospital and I would like to read your book. Mostly out of curiosity. 🙂 please keep writing!

  9. AMM April 1, 2015 at 2:22 am #

    Sounds like your “jerkbrain” (viz. captainawkward.com) is having a field day, giving you a never-ending list of reasons why you shouldn’t be a Real Writer(tm), why you’re Doing It Wrong, etc. (“Twilight” fanfic authors, yes, they are Real Writers, but not _you_.) I’m reminded of a post of yours that I printed out and hung up in my cubicle: “10 lies depression tells you.”

    As for it being hard work (and sucking): every professional writer, when they write about writing, says that much (maybe even most) of the time, it arouses the urge to do anything but work on their book. I.e., you’re not alone. (Speaking as someone who is _not_ a professional writer.)

  10. Leigh Shulman April 1, 2015 at 2:22 am #

    There’s no need to justify writing a novel. It’s just something you do. It’s a gamble, yeah, but so much of what we do is until we already know it’s going to work out. And then it seems like it was always meant to be.

    I’d still love to read it if you’re up for sending it.


  11. weird is the new normal April 1, 2015 at 2:29 am #

    This was so refreshing and honest, thank you. I’ve often had the same thoughts/feelings when working on creative projects. It can also be really hard to embark on something like writing a book when you don’t have funding and your’e not sure what the end goal will be, or if you will even finish.

    Hang in there with the book writing!

  12. mounithkomuravelli April 1, 2015 at 2:39 am #

    The part of which you are stuck at is a part of life that hinges to look about your capabilities, work on it and reconstruct your self confidence which in turns builds your self-esteem, this may not happen in a day or two, but if you strive working for a reason your heart wishes to, it takes a part of you to blend your success well before in hand.
    Life is all about crossing these ambiguities and confusions, stuck up in these situations, but we are here to face them up, toughen up ourself and set out to conquer the world we live in.
    Possessing a form of art is something gifted, your post shows your creative writing and I am very much interested in reading your novel . Try working on it, follow this(it’s time to just try once more) before giving up, I hope you gain enough strength in completing your novel and wish you a success.
    wishing you to reply me

  13. mounithkomuravelli April 1, 2015 at 2:49 am #

    Look, the world is all about conquering it, with the art we possess and it certainly helps us build our self-esteem and empower our thoughts with the success it bleaches to our life.
    We are all here for this very reason and never forget this(just try once more before giving up) and before you are about to shower with success, life needs something in return and it provides us this obstacles to cross them over and ambiguities, confusions and failure thoughts that try to pull you away from success.
    So, the only mantra is don’t give up, cross them and scale your success.
    I hope you possess good creative skills in writing, I have gone through your blog and writing a novel is multiplies your success and I am here waiting to read your novel (Seriously).
    Hope you gain strength to complete the novel.
    wishing you good luck

  14. Marie April 1, 2015 at 2:55 am #

    I needed this today… Thank you

  15. neighsayer April 1, 2015 at 2:59 am #

    me too, and it really does. I”m pretty stuck.

  16. christineespeer April 1, 2015 at 3:01 am #

    That is the best and truest thing I’ve read all day! Now get back to work on the novel!! : )

  17. unsolicitedtidbits April 1, 2015 at 3:19 am #

    Best of luck to you! I appreciate this post because I’ve found myself in the throes of the same thoughts. It’s frightening to put energy into something not knowing where it will lead exactly. It’s also part of the joy. Also, coffee helps 🙂

  18. M.A. April 1, 2015 at 3:26 am #

    Everything you say about the difficulty is true, and I often feel the same way. Problem is, the only thing that makes me more miserable, frustrated, and full of doubt than writing is *not* writing. I’ve tried both, and the not writing thing makes me crazier than the writing, so there I am. Your mental state may, of course, be entirely different; for your sake I hope so. But should you decide to keep going, please consider me willing to–no, scratch that–eargerly awaiting the chance to read several pages of whatever you’ve got, in whatever condition, at any point in time. Just let me know, and shoot it my way. And if you decide to walk away, that’s always okay too. But before you do, you might take a look at this essay by John McPhee, whom I consider one of the best writers of the 20th century, fiction or non: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/04/29/draft-no-4 Best wishes. 8~)}

    • M.A. April 1, 2015 at 3:51 am #

      P.S. Just looked at the date. The offer to read stuff is not an April Fool’s Joke.

  19. Linda S. April 1, 2015 at 4:23 am #

    You are an amazing writer .. the only blogger I read… and I believe that any book you write will be very worth reading. I do hope you continue to write the book and that I get to read it someday.

  20. elevenwinds11 April 1, 2015 at 7:11 am #

    You’ve justified the feelings most would want not to have, but we all do. This is a great article to express our frustrations in life. I’ve tried writing a romantic novel on Wattpad but of little success I only finished half, since it seems uncanny to the mob. I was vying for a tragic story yet fulfilling like the fault of stars kinda thing genre. I got tired of it, nobody seemed to notice somehow. I got a few readers but no comments, since the story is not finished I guess. Anyway, great article you got here. Art is something that you can’t expect for money as a payback, it’s the satisfaction and void feeling that you get since your frustration in life has been lifted out. Though you may still feel lonely but in any way you’re still able to cut-off a portion of this enigmatic abyss in you. We’re all struggling that’s palpable. We can’t really find a way to express but sometimes in art as an escape.

  21. Mario Savioni April 1, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    Try writing a novel as if you could imagine any world you wanted. What would it be? Writer’s block can be cured by reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way and concentrate on and practice ‘the morning pages.’ Cliches can be substituted later when you go back over the material. Unsnarl later. As Cameron would suggest, it not about quality but quantity and to write first, question later.

    You don’t justify a book, you write one.

    It is not a waste of time because I sense it is important to you. You will regret not trying. This is where you are. It is time to write a novel and put this to bed for awhile, after all, you want to know if you can write a novel. There’s a hint of vanity and a hint of pride in yourself? It isn’t about the amount of effort you put in, but that this is something you have to at least try or it will drive you crazy?

    You won’t die. You’ll just feel unfulfilled. This is who you are, you are a writer and writing novels is another stage/kind of expression. Artists starve because society doesn’t support them. They choose to write about what no one cares to know. Even if they and others care to know about it, they don’t set themselves up to make a profit. The question is why do you not make money as a writer, right now? I don’t know that my passion to write is noble. I find it self-aggrandizing. I feel presumptuous if I go out with my amplifier and start reading my poems in public. No one ever threw money at me. I’ve been told by the police to stop or they would arrest me. A lady once came to me and complained that I was too loud. I am too stupid to know that I am failing. I bet I don’t even know that my work is bad. There is nothing pure about my art except that I believe that what I am saying is true. Do you believe in what you are saying is true? I know you do. That’s what a novel is. It is telling the truth. The truth always turns out to be valuable. People will take it for free.
    Art shouldn’t be lonely or boring. It is for you and by you. I don’t feel tuberculin misery when I write. I feel there is something I want to say. There is something I want to say to you. I’ve loved you. You are a beautiful, clear, and angry. You are raw. I like that about you. You hold a mirror to me and I can see myself, often ‘mansplaining’ as you have describes me (even if you have not said this about me), not so much as a person, but as a man and I like that. I like the idea that I am supposed to be some kind of bad person just because I am a man, and so while I half-listen to you I am also amazed that someone could think that I was that bad. I want you to write a novel that has real male characters, and I want you to go deeply and teach me more about myself, because you seem to know me more than I know myself and I want you to help me become a better person.
    You justify writing a book because you have something to say. You can say anything in a novel and attribute it to some strange character. You can create a whole other world you’d like the world to be or just describe this one and let us see what you see and we will nod our heads in agreement or not and feel the catharsis of someone else accurately describing our world or not. That’s how it works. Your own personal satisfaction is a combination of not wanting to regret something and somehow making an effort to see if you can do something that others might like. What does your heart want? Wait until you have something to say. What ideals do you have?

  22. FloraFaunaChop April 1, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    I think having some self doubt is healthy for creativity and life in general. It pushes you to try harder and do better. If you thought everything you did was amazing you wouldn’t grow and your stuff would probably suck. Good luck on your journey and keep growing!

  23. setmeravelles April 1, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    I feel your pain. Write on!

  24. drkrisg April 1, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    I hope you expand your ideas of what it means to be an artist. You ARE an artist — one who cares about the realities of life. There is no shame in that, and it doesn’t make what you create and less genuine. Please allow yourself to call yourself the artist you are and remain attuned to your needs and those of your family. I wish you the best of luck in being kind to yourself and hopefully in the end there will be a finished product for us to read (and you to profit from!). If not, your gift of writing is still impacting a lot of people. Maybe that is some comfort or joy to you.

  25. Cheryl April 1, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    We all fret and worry about writing (I know too well that blind panic on opening a Word document) – I think that if we didn’t, there would be something wrong. Too much ego, too much confidence etc.

    The art-being-sullied-by-talk-of-money struck a nerve with me. I just wrote about that myself (which you can read here, if you’d like –


    – and this is not an attempt to gain traffic or readers, it just seems like a little synchronicity that I found this blog after writing that post so recently, and I like to amplify synchronicities wherever I can, because I believe we find them for a reason, like breadcrumbs on a path, or notches cut into tree trunks on a trail).

    I’m in the middle of writing a clutch of books that I sweat and fuss over, but I agonise over every paragraph and dally over image, so feels that the book(s) will never be complete because there simply isn’t enough time to eke out the loveliness there could be. So I recently decided to write a cheap and cheerful novel (think chick-lit) for the sole purposes of self-publishing it to make a quick buck, so that I can then work part time and write the lovely books I want to write. And I am wracked with writerly guilt about the compromise, but am trying to work out the kinks – is it ok to write quickly/poorly/insincerely now so that I can write slowly/beautifully/truthfully later? I still don’t know. I do know that I totally agree with every word you write here, about art, and passion, and creativity, and doubt, and work, and fulfilment. I could return and return to this.

  26. fefaye April 1, 2015 at 1:01 pm #


  27. ashleyrosieme April 1, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    Why stress? writing is supposed to be fun or else whats the point?? I mean dont overthink it just try to inspire and motivate yourself before starting and you dont have to have the whole novel from the first second just write whatever comes to mind and you will see that it will be so much easier later on you wont even have to think the story will write itself and from what Im seeing you are a pretty good writer so dont give up you can do this I believe in you but the most important is that you have fun good luck 🙂

  28. Icarus April 1, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    “And not miserable in a romantic, 19th century painter with a weirdly attractive case of tuberculosis kind of way. ”

    i’m totally stealing this line. and great post, we definitely feel your pain.

  29. eliotcoburn April 1, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

    Kinda unrelated, but you reminded me of Beavis and Butthead’s take on T.S. Eliot,’s immortal line, “April is the cruelest month”:
    April Sucks.

  30. emcmackinnon April 1, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    As someone who works in the publishing industry, all I can say is writing does suck, but absolutely everyone who has published a book has been in your shoes at least once.

    For inspiration, I suggest you read the first chapter or so of Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” where she explains how the emphasis of “labour of love” really is on the “labour” part. Also, check out this lovely excerpt from the end of the book:

    “Here’s the thing. Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you are around. It will forget your birthday and wreck your car. Your career will blow you off, it will call you too much. It’s never going to leave its wife. Your career is fucking other people and everyone knows but you.

    Your career will never marry you.

    Before I extend this metaphor, let me make a distinction between career and creativity. Creativity is connected to your passion, that light inside you that drives you. That joy that comes when you do something you love. That small voice tell you, “I like this. Do this again. You are good at it. Keep going.” That is the juicy stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world. Your creativity is not a bad boyfriend. It is a really warm older Hispanic lady who has a beautiful laugh and loves to hug. If you are even a little bit nice to her she will make you feel great and maybe cook you delicious food.”

  31. runningnekkid April 1, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    Hooray for book writing! I’m glad you came here to vent some of the brain uglies that have been keeping you tied up. Hopefully you cleared out enough brain room so you can get back to booking. Very best of luck to you, Anne!

  32. katherinejlegry April 1, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    well, if you’re bored with your art or writing it’s pretty guaranteed your audience will be too.

    Ray Bradbury wrote about “driving blind” and how you listen to the muse and you trust the process. You follow the voices and then you end up at your destination.

    Anne Lamott writes about keeping the process in “snapshots” so you don’t look at the whole novel, but instead you write these “small windows” that add up. She quoted E.L. Doctorow “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. you can only see as far as your headlights, but you make the whole trip that way.” So you don’t have to see everything you pass along the way or the ending… you just have to see three feet ahead of you. Her book is called Bird by Bird and it’s a pretty good book for writers processes.

    Joseph Epstein was asked tips and what it takes to become a writer and he said, “three things: first one must cultivate incompetence at almost every other form of profitable work. This must be accompanied second by a haughty contempt for all the forms of work that one has established one cannot do. To these two must be joined, third, the nuttiness to believe that other people can be made to care about your opinions and views and can be charmed by the way you state them. Incompetence, contempt, lunacy– once you have these in place, you are set to go.”

    Art is different for everyone. The starving artist who doesn’t sell out commercially and has to create or they will die is kind of a myth. No artist wants to starve. And most of them would like to be appreciated and understood. And what makes their art awesome is that they do it anyway. Not to set themselves as superior, but because they are just who they are and they are being honest about it in their expressions. Most artists thru time suffered from addiction, mental illness, abuse issues, abandonment issues, societal and religious issues etc. so they process this in their work… They can’t keep traditional jobs or expect the capitalist-commercial contracts for their work.

    You can write a novel and be a “hack”… like Shades of Grey and Twillight and even Harry Potter… and so what? Have fun and make money but just don’t be “bored”. If you’re “bored” it’ll be boring.

    High art and true literature will not suffer if you don’t feel like reaching for them. You already have an enormous following and willing readership. So your writers block is more like procrastination. You don’t need permission. Just do it.

  33. Athena April 1, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

    The reason you are bored with writing is because your ideas are boring. And you think the world should pay you for living your boring life and transcribing your mundane thoughts. Billions of people live on less than $2 a day. Time to check your privilege, shitlord.

  34. mrwriteon April 1, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    I am entirely in the same place and for the same reason and am undergoing all the elements of angst you are so at least your blog here served a purpose for me today in that it told me, fuck all the negatives about this process, I am not alone. So bless you for this. Not in vain at all.

  35. phoenix902 April 1, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

    Oh my God, thank you. Thank you SO much. I swear I almost cried but then I’d have to explain why and no one would understand but….. Thank you and the people in the comments too. *sigh*

  36. naturebeckles April 1, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

    Dude, I AM RIGHT WITH YOU. I too, have been working on a novel for literally years. I have 25 pages of a word document and I just recently decided to take what I’ve written so far and completely transform it. Everything you said is YES YES YES. Why shouldn’t I dream that my novel could be the next JK Rowling success story? I’ve told myself if the author of 50 Shades of Grey could write like crap and make a bunch of money, then I should be able to also and not actually write like shit! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting recognition and monetary compensation for all this time you and I put in for our work. Artists shouldn’t be expected to use all their creative resources to make art for others to appreciate for free. Like you said, FUCK ALL OF THAT. Yeah, my art is going to be deep, reflective, dark but hopeful. It’s not going to be flimsy, weak, and shallow. Why are we writing novels? Because we have something to give to the world and we want people to want what we have to give because it validates our humanness and makes us feel like we’re not alone with the thoughts we have swirling in our heads that we finally put down on paper for others to relate to. And because being the next potential JK Rowling means I can spend my time swimming freely in my creativity and maybe even go back to college instead of trying to make time to write a novel a little bit each day after a corporate office job, thinking a college degree is another lifetime away.

  37. sashaj11 April 2, 2015 at 3:21 am #

    true dat, writing does suck. I love how your sarcasticize the high ideals we/other people have for art. Maybe we do that because writing is like a solidary experience, and the celebration of it is sometimes collective. Either way, I’m gonna remember this post and come back to it when I’m feeling down because of writing’s sukiness.

  38. Joe Weinberg April 2, 2015 at 5:10 am #

    According to Agnes de Mille: “I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. … I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be. Martha said to me, very quietly,”
    “‘There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.’”
    from The Life and Work of Martha Graham
    She constantly inspires me and I hope, you too.
    First time writer, long-time reader and admirer. Go on and write it punk, make my (our) day.

  39. Poet Dressed In Black April 2, 2015 at 6:46 am #

    Yes, writing is hard work. Creating art takes everything. Everything…

  40. vbillings April 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    YES YES YES ALL OF THIS and I also find the idea of the miserable artist deeply upsetting. Like, I’m not suicidal or an alcoholic or addicted to laudanum. Does that mean I can’t be a good poet? I worry I don’t have enough pain or the right kind of pain and that insecurity blocks me entirely from the act of actually writing.

    • tabbyrenelle April 4, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

      Yeah Vbillings, you’re not going to be real EVER as an artist or writer if you’re not miserable. Sorry to have to tell you, but it’ll remain a hobby until you try to kill yourself at least once.


  41. Sierra Zel Chandler April 2, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    I think you have put into words exactly why my own novel came to a grinding halt at page 50. Thank you for helping me figure that much out, at least.

  42. strangerseverywhere April 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm #

    Could you please continue writting forever? A lot of people should be like you.

  43. Ann K. April 3, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

    ― Ernest Hemingway

  44. A Silent Woods April 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    I’m 38 years old and a mother of three. I’m also a writer. I’m trying really hard to teach my kids that, just because society has told us something is wrong, doesn’t make it so. There are lots of reasons the world at large makes vast and, mostly, faulty statements about the passion of creating.

    Stop listening to the hype. Having an audience in mind when you start your piece doesn’t make you less artistic, it makes you more refined.

    My minor is in studio art. Graphic designers are given so much grief for not having passion, for being too business oriented but the graphic designers I met were some of the most passionate artists, often getting into design as a form of social protest.

    Thinking about all aspects of a project from conception to completion makes you a stronger, more mature artist, not a less passionate.

    To put it bluntly, I adore your writing. Stop letting the world give you excuses and give us something to read already!!

  45. Chantal Saville April 6, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    Reblogged this on Send Me to Paris and commented:
    True and truly felt.

  46. emaymustgo April 7, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    Here is what I think, as a writer who is currently also worrying quite a lot about Money and where it will come from. It *isn’t* wrong to want money for doing creative work. I think society should value and reward the arts (all of them) a great deal more than we do. I would guess that the vast majority of people enjoy the work that artists produce, and yet it’s very difficult to make a living as an artist. Something’s not right there.

    However, as a good friend of mine once forced me to remember, I don’t actually write because I want money. I write because I have stories inside me that I want to share with people and I feel much better once I’ve told them. If you’re even thinking about writing a novel, I suspect you’re much the same. You really will feel a lot better the more of this story you have in there that you get told.

    However, it does suck at times and absolutely writing can be very lonely because you do it by yourself and some days the novel project seems like a terrible idea. All I can say is keep going, because you’ll feel better if you do. If writing novels was easy, everyone would do it. You’ve challenged yourself to do something hard, and you’ll feel amazing *when* you get it done.

    It’s ok to feel that it’s hard, and it’s ok to feel that it sucks sometimes. Just don’t let that stop you. Talk to people about your struggles, too.

    Sorry, I wrote a lot. I really identify with a lot of what you wrote, is probably why.

  47. fushiaska~ April 8, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

    Having read your blog I believe you will do just fine, your style is engaging. Good luck !!

  48. wildcowsofboont April 14, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    Reblogged this on Wild Cows of Boont and commented:
    “If wanting money is crass, then wanting fame – or, at the very least, some kind of recognition – is worse. Because you’re not supposed to create with an audience in mind; that kind of thinking is for people who use words like “brand” and “content.” A true artist only ever makes things that are a perfect reflection of their most precious ideas, without ever wondering how other people will react. Who cares how people react? People are peasants, and if they don’t understand what you’re trying to communicate then the failure is theirs and theirs alone.

    But, like, fuck that. Fuck all of that. Why are people allowed to want money for literally any other job besides creative work? I know writing is supposed to be a vocation or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you only ever do it without expecting payment. I’m not out here expecting free childcare because my son’s daycare teachers are performing a labour of love or whatever. And sure people should be making things that they’re passionate about, but that doesn’t mean they can’t ever possibly consider their potential audience. What is so filthy-dirty wrong about wanting success?” – The Belle Jar blog

  49. Bowrag April 21, 2015 at 3:56 am #

    Keep fighting the good fight!!

  50. gina amos April 28, 2015 at 3:01 am #

    Reblogged this on DEATH BY GINA.

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