12 things they don’t tell you about being a writer

Pretty well captures it all. It’s not a panacea for what bothers you in your life, but writing can help you, if it doesn’t kill you.

Sara Brunsvold

Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I loved the very thought of such a career and ached to see my creations on bookshelves. My only frame of reference for what a writer’s life looked like, however, was what I saw in movies and television shows.

As I began pursuing a writing career, I soon discovered all the parts that are not pretty enough for the screen.

If I could prepare my younger, starry-eyed self for what a writer’s life really is, here’s what I’d say:

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Floofdoggle (catfinition) – an impractical or wasteful activity or project involving one or more cats.

In use: “His penchant for floofdoggles included trying to train his cats to step on a mat that activated the food dispenser, and another one that would turn on a water bowl so the cats could have fresh food and water. Unfortunately, the leery felines chose to go around the mat to get to the food and water bowls, forcing him to devise other ways to satisfy their needs.”

All Along the Spectrum

I’m bouncing along the spectrum this week, sliding from hopeless negativity into enthusiastic, boundless optimism. 

I know there’s a sweet spot there. Just can’t seem to find that balance.

That’s not overly surprising, and I don’t knowingly let myself fixate on it. ‘Knowingly’ is key, because my mind has created traps that I fall into without realizing, following worn paths that I should avoid, except they’re so damn easy to follow. Do you write fiction or pursue goals and dreams? If so, you might understand what I mean when I refer to these dark, weary paths.

I don’t know all the nuances that trigger my spectrum slides. I have ideas and insights into that process. When I win writing battles, my spirits soar toward the positive end. Good food, a good time, and a surprising compliment can take me there, too. Struggling with writing decisions, events that seem beyond my control, and simple frustration can drag me down into sour, doleful depths.

I know those things. Unseen health issues affect me with sneak attacks. Or, are they health issues? Maybe they’re not. I note, I feel off, and ask myself, what’s going on? Is it too little sleep, something I ate, part of the aging process, the first symptoms of a disease, or intellectual activities affecting my emotional activities affecting my physical activities affecting my spiritual activities affecting my intellectual activities?

Yes, that circle exists. It’s more complex than those few arcs described. That’s the spectrum. It’s not an orderly, linear line, but a circle, perhaps even a mobius. I think of it as a spectrum on a circle. Abstract visualization is one of my strengths, so I turn to it to help me think through things.

Being aware of the circle’s existence, like the monster in the dark, is helpful. Dreams can sometimes help, but last night’s dreams about aliens and seeking understanding seemed to highlight my morass rather than illuminating a way through it. Bummer. Fortunately, finding a satisfying resolution to whatever artistic-writing-intellectual problem is challenging me helps as well.

Today, after dwelling on the dreams during my morning coffee, I did find a satisfying approach to resolving the problem (which, yes, was of a writing nature), feeding my positive energy. It came while I dawdled, putting aside my normal routine to read some fiction and goof off, rather than to go out to walk and write. After just a few pages of distracting my brain with another’s fiction, my sub-conscious announced, aha, and an idea was floated. The solution isn’t fully formed, but has enough substance that I can grasp and shape it into something more and move myself forward.

Knowing this minutiae about myself is helpful to coping with its repercussions and trying to contain it. It’s easy to let these things eat me up, starting a more self-destructive circle. I encountered those when I was younger, when I didn’t know how to sort myself, when the territory that is me was darker and more unknown. I did a lot of destruction to myself and my life in those days. Fortunately, others helped me with patience, kindness, and insights. When I think back on some of the craziness, I gulp with amazement that I’m alive, intact, and not incarcerated.

Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

William Said

We don’t know what the writer is trying to pull off in Faulkner’s reference. I think, though, sometimes the writer DOES pull it off. Winning that energy from trying and succeeding is what keeps us going, and keeps us believing, “I can pull it off, if I just keep trying.”

At least, that’s why I keep writing like crazy. I think I can pull it out of my ass one more time.

Thursday’s Theme Music

Lyrics once again drive this song.

I began streaming it in my mind yesterday when I was walking and saw a yellow cab. Song fragments took turns with the connection for a bit before I settled into Harry Chapin’s “Taxi”. A bit maudlin, the reflective song addresses our aspirations and shortcomings, and what we become instead of the people we want — or expected — to be in the rush of youth.

It also encompasses a bit of Sylvia Plath poetry in the middle. What the hell is he saying there, I used to ask myself, listening. Eventually, the intertubes revealed the Sylvia Plath connection, once again providing proof of the web’s usefulness.

I don’t think “Taxi” was ever as popular or well-known as “Cat’s in the Cradle”. From way, way back in 1972, here’s the late Harry Chapin and “Taxi”.



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