27 September 2015

Writing Life

Writing is almost like air and water and food for me. Yet, I have yet to make a living doing this thing I love more than (dare I say it?) chocolate. When someone asks me what I do, the first thing that always wants to tumble from my lips is: "I'm a writer." Then, in this oh-so-grown-up and serious world in which we live, I realize that the inquisitor wants to know how I put victuals on my family (Thank you G. W. Bush). Then, I sigh, because that's what you do when you're forlorn, and give them some long, rambling blah blah that bores them and me and the fishes of the sea. These latter have been known to drown themselves from utter boredom.

So, why is it so damn difficult to send my writing out into the world? Surely I'm the only writer who feels this way. I am the only person writing in the safety of anonymity. But, who, unlike the Earl of Oxford, hasn't money with which to pay someone to let me ghostwrite for them and to persuade them to keep my identity secret. Alack the day.... The question, then, should be: "What do I want from my writing?" And: "Can I get that by writing 'only for myself'?"

Maybe you've seen Anonymous. In that film, the Earl of Oxford tells Ben Jonson that all art is political and if it's not then it's mere decoration. I have been thinking on that since I heard it. It has gnawed and scratched the recesses of my skull. Is it true? Is it not true? Is my challenge that I don't like politics? Is my challenge that I like chocolate too much? If I write with these things in mind, how will that feel? Or, maybe the artist doesn't keep the political gobbledygook in mind, but rather it just sorta seeps out like the toxins in sweat. Perhaps.

I know I'm somewhat nervous about sending my writing out. All kinds of thoughts work on me. E.g. What if I'm delusional and this sucks so badly that it makes people want to rip their eyeballs out? What if it's sooooo bad that it's like I'm unconsciously putting all my garbage out on on other people's lawns? What if others hate it so much that I am forbidden to ever eat chocolate again? Ever!

I have read many horror stories. No, not Stephen King's fiction, but rather his non-ish-fiction memoir, On Writing. He talks about the rejection letters. Other writers do this, too. It's like:

"See my scar?"
"Oh yeah? Look at mine!"
"That's nothing! I've lost a finger!"
"Why's that guy pointing at the air?"
"I think he's trying to tell us that he's lost his head."
"Oh yeah? Well, I've had my brainchild story rejected a gazzillion and eighty times...."

I think the writers who share those anecdota are in a sadistic way trying to encourage us lesser mortals. My self-doubt demons always chime in. "See, real writers get rejected. What hope do you have? No one wants to read your drivel. You should "keep it secret, keep it safe." You wouldn't want to be responsible for someone hurting themselves by inflicting that on them..... And on, and on it goes.

But, I know I'm the only one who feels this way, so I'm sorry for subjecting you to all of this codswallop.


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