What I Talk About When I Talk About Writing

July 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have not lived up to my promise of writing (here or elsewhere).  But, I don’t want to get down about it.  I think the one thing that inhibits my writing the most, is my sour attitude about it, and how much of a failure I feel like if I don’t write.  I have been reading a lot.  I gave up on Trading Up by Candace Bushnell.  I did not like her characters at all.  Or the plot.  Or the writing while we’re at it.  I’m listening to Walks With Men by Ann Beattie, which I like.  I get slightly distracted listening while driving, which is hopefully a good thing because I do need to pay attention to the road.  I have two running books I read snippets in them, every now and then.  Born to Run and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.  The title will probably make you groan like it made my boyfriend.  It is his memoir about being a runner and a writer, and I find it more compelling than the Born to Run book.  Both running and writing are fairly solitary activities, and you have to learn how to pace yourself and build up to writing for long stretches at a time.  The only reason I’ve been running as much as I have been, is because I’m in a running group, and I think it would certainly help if I met my writing group more often too.  Murakami did not think about being a writer, but one day thought he should write a novel.  He hand wrote 200 pages, sent it into a contest and won, and pretty much became a successful writer.

I often think about talent and gifts.  I’ve been told by many people that I ought to write, and I am praised for it.  But when I don’t feel like it or if I haven’t been praised for it lately, I lose all self-confidence in my abilities.  But more and more, I believe that feelings, while truthful, aren’t always a reliable indicator of the truth.  Hmm.  That just came out without me thinking about it.  But feelings in relationships wax and wane, and it is good to pay attention to feelings and emotions, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t love for or in the relationship.  My shaky confidence for being a writer is almost utterly dependent on others, which I think is unhealthy.  I feel good about it when people say I’m doing a good job.  I feel crappy when I’m not hearing praise.  Maybe it comes easier for some, but I’ve read so many writers say what a struggle it is to write.  So, I don’t think it is a question of talent.  I think it is hard work (and out comes my Midwestern work ethic).  I think anyone can run a marathon.  I think anyone can write.  I also think some people have natural talent for athletics or language or music, but humans are amazing.  I realize there are a couple ideas going on in this paragraph, but just roll with it.

Okay, total segue, but I watched Inception last night.  It blew my mind.  I loved it.  On the drive home, my mind was whirring with possibilities for a new book and that excited me.  But it also got me thinking about the human brain and what an amazing machine it is.  If I could start my life all over, I think I’d like to be a neuroscientist.  I think more than anything, the brain fascinates me.

I really do need to write tomorrow and I will.  I was going to spend Sunday afternoon writing, but I went to the lawn in front of the state capitol building, and I had a gorgeous afternoon soaking up the sun and brainstorming about my novel.  Ben is a good literary consultant if you’re in the market for one.  Even though I didn’t write, I know where I want to go.  Writing a novel is just making decisions, I’ve heard.  Sometimes I don’t even know where I want to go for lunch, or on vacation, or what I want to do in my life, and yet I have to make small and big decisions for my characters.  It’s hard work.

Thanks for reading, my faithful followers.  I’ll try to be more diligent.  Ta ta!


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