Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why So Serious?

The Dark Knight's Joker has a point. I see far too many writers taking their craft far too seriously these days. In fact, it's getting to the point where I'm depressed reading their blogs, tweets and Facebook pages.

If they're that much into masochism, why not join, find a good sadist, and have a spanking good time?

1) If you don't like to write, then don't do it.

Why waste your life doing something you hate? At least, I figured that one out before I turned fifty. I spent too much of my time doing things for reasons that had nothing to do with me. I HATED it. And one day, I finally asked myself, "What the hell are you doing?"

2) If writing is not fun for you, why are you doing it?

I'm not saying every emotion you should feel while writing should be bliss. You should be crying when your hero's steadfast brother dies. You should be terrified when zombies attack your pregnant heroine. By identifying with your protagonist, your writing leaps off the page/screen. But if you don't enjoy the process, why are you torturing yourself?

3) If you can think of fifty other things you'd rather be doing instead of writing, maybe it's not for you.

I read a post recently where the writer wailed how agonizing it was to put fifty words on the page. Um, really? Is it that bad? I can understand if you have fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or some other problem that makes it physically difficult or downright painful to type or write, but that wasn't this writer's problem. I'm a slow typer and fifty words take me 8.3 minutes. That's the time it takes me to eat my English muffin and hard-boiled egg for breakfast.

I'm not talking about burn-out, which is when you really need a mental break. But go read a couple of chapters from a novel, watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory, play with your cat, then come back to your wip. If you still feel like your wasting your time, you need to ask yourself some hard questions.

4) Build it and they will come.

I'm not trying to be a negative-Nelly, but I find far too many people either looking for a quick buck or fame. If you truly want to tell stories (because deep down, that's what writing really is), you will keep working at it.

Remember one thing--Just like Ray in Field of Dreams, your successes arrived on their schedule, not yours. When Ray plowed his field under, did it happen? No. Ray still had to find Terrence and Archie and build the stadium. Everything was necessary before Ray could be reunited with his father. But Ray kept working at his dream.

One of our jobs as writers is to speak the truth, but truth is a mutable concept. The first thing we must do is acknowledge the truth within ourselves. Is writing the path we are supposed to be on? Or are we doing it to fulfill some other wish or fantasy?

There's a great scene within Neil Gaima's The Sandman. Death is collecting souls, and a baby who died from SIDS asks her why he died so soon. He never got a chance to do anything. Death replies, "You get what everyone gets. A lifetime."

That was my turning point. I didn't want to waste what's left of my life in a career I hated. I'll admit the words come slower some mornings than others. But right now, the fulfillment I feel in writng is worth getting to this point in my life.

I hope everyone finds their turning point.


  1. I think for a lot of people, it's easy to get into a situation where you think you should do something for some high sounding reason that has nothing to do with it being your joyful dream. Or you've made a big deal about something to family and friends, so finding that it's not quite what you thought it was is dismaying -- what if you have to admit to all these people that you were wrong, that you changed your mind, that you quit? Especially if your family and friends are the sort who'd give you a hard time about it. :P

    And then there are the folks who want to be an author, but don't really want to write. That one sucks. [wry smile]

    Or the people who think that griping about how hard writing is, every keystroke of it, makes them interesting or impresses people or gets them attention.

    All of which is different from having a real problem, as you said -- burnout or project block or being too stressed out over a life roll to be able to focus on writing.

    Or maybe some bloggers face a Posting Day (glad I don't do those) and couldn't think of anything more interesting to write about. OMG this writing is So Hard! often goes over well. :)


  2. Great post, Suzan. And great comment, Angie. I have to agree with all of it. I believe that if you truly enjoyed writing, nothing else would matter. The money, the moments of writer's block, the lack of fame. I enjoy writing because I love to create characters, scenes, and the outcome of two people who may have never met had I not made it so. I know I write fiction, but that's not the point. The point is, it shouldn't be a "chore".

  3. I dunno why writers complain about writing. Then in the same sentence, tell us they MUST write. They've been writing since they were a fetus. It's in their blood, consumes their every thought (waking and not).

    And yet, they cannot apply ass to chair.

  4. WOW! The one day I sleep in, and I get lots of great comments!

    Maybe some of the complainers miss the point of writing. We're either informing (like Whisk and her fabulous recipes and cooking tips) or entertaining (like Angie, Savannah and me).

    The thing is I've been entertaining for a while, whether it be sexy stories sent thru Compuserve to DH while he was overseas or making up songs when GK was a baby. I've simply expanded my audience.

    Yes, that's right. I'm an attention whore. *grin*