Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do or Do Not. There is No Try.

Your Girl-Tuesday here.

As Claire said, this week we’re all going to take a shot at answering the question – Why do I write?

I have to tell you that this is a very difficult question for me to answer. It’s difficult because my gut reaction is to answer, “Because I suck at everything else,” and that makes me sound like a complete Looo-ser! (Are you picturing me with my thumb and forefinger plastered to my forehead? Good.) But even more importantly, that statement isn’t exactly true.

Bear with me while I explain.

As I mentioned in our welcome message, I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. What I didn’t mention is that I only started writing a few years ago—in the literal sense. Oh, I’ve dabbled over the years, but most of my storytelling took place Here. I’m tapping a finger to my temple now. (Bet you didn’t expect to get so many cool visuals with this post.) What writing I did, I did on the sly—too nervous, and yes, embarrassed to let anyone know.

And do you want the truth about my fledgling stories? Well, here it is: They sucked. Big Time Sucked. In fact, they were the suckiest suck to ever hit a piece of paper. I mean it. They were bad.

Are you getting the picture?

Say it with me… “Why were they so bad, Jen?”

Oh-ho! I’m so glad you asked that question. I’ll tell you why they were bad. They were bad because I was downright lazy when it came to writing. You see, I had this romantic idea of what “writing” was supposed to be. I thought it would all be soooo easy. That I’d sit down at a keyboard and pages upon pages of pure magic would flow from my fingertips. That whatever I wrote would be a bestseller, and that writing that Next Big Thing would take no more than a couple of weeks—a month, tops.

Are you laughing yet? Yeah, me too.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now—when reality collided with the fantasy, a bestseller it did not make.

So how does this explain my opening statement? Well, it illustrates my point. You see, I’m a girl who likes to live inside her head. When writing proved too difficult, I went on to the next “fantasy” career. This time I would be a singer! Or maybe a lawyer. A marine biologist. No, no no…I should go into the FBI! (Did you guess there was a movie involved with each of these decisions?)

Okay, I’m really not that flighty. I had legitimate reasons for wanting to do all of those things. I can sing—I had a voice minor in college and one of my vocal instructors urged me to shoot for Broadway. I did in fact do undercover work that I thought would lead to my joining the FBI. And I went to law school and got my JD. (I’m at a loss to explain the marine biology thing. Especially since I hate science and went to a college that’s land-locked by cornfields.) That said—the reality of actually doing these things never lived up to the fantasy I had created in my head.

Why? Because I’m a storyteller. Always have been, always will be. It just took a while for me to realize that I couldn’t trick myself into a career I didn’t love with silly romantic notions. Not when my heart and mind would always be longing to do something else.

Namely, I wanted to write. Great. One problem, though. I still didn’t know how to.

I won’t bore you with the details of that particular journey. Suffice it to say that writing isn’t easy for me. I struggle each and every day to plant my butt in the chair. I struggle each and every day to transfer the image I have in my mind to the page. Most days I think every word I write is Total Suckage. Most days I think I should chuck it and go figure out that marine biology thing.

But I won’t.


Because sometimes I do find the right words. Sometimes I’m able to create magic.
And if I can make readers laugh or cry right along with me, then I know I’ve done my job well.

Yes, the reality of writing is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. (Can you believe there are no music montages involved? Not even short ones. ) And most days I probably do more hair-pulling than actual writing. In truth, though, I can’t imagine living my life any other way.

My stories are who I am.

That’s why I write.


  1. You and I had very similar journey's, Yoda.

    Well, except for the Marine Biology thing (that belonged to my best friend), and becoming an undercover agent (there's still time!).

  2. Wise words, Yoda. (g)

    And if it's any consolation, no one could ever possibly tell from your writing that you're nearly bald, from all that hair-pulling. (bg) You're damn good, you know?

    But I do know what you mean - many, many days, writing is also a hard old slog for me. But like you, I just can't chuck it in. And at least we can always wear wigs!

    Fantastic post, Jen.

  3. "I struggle each and every day to plant my butt in the chair. I struggle each and every day to transfer the image I have in my mind to the page."
    Are you sur about that, Jen? Cos you make it look damn easy! I love reading your stuff!
    A musical montage would be nice, wouldn't it? :-)

  4. Good luck, ladies. I think lots of people will relate to your journey.

  5. I think we should trademark: Suckiest suck that ever sucked. What do you think? :-D Great post!

  6. Hey Tuesday! (Okay, Hey Jen! Although I do like the name Tuesday)

    Heartfelt post, girl. Loved it. I still wonder what I'll be when I grow up. Nah. I'm not going to grow up.

    Cool thing about the singing--I did not know this about you.

  7. Congratulations on the nifty blog, ladies!

    And as to coming to this writing gig later in life...I think it is totally okay...you have to have life experiences to get the imaginations in your head to ring true. Or so I believe.

  8. Tara -- Aww, my soul sista! Think twice about that UC thing. (g)

    Rachel -- Thanks! Writing is never easy -- or well, usually it isn't. But when those magic moments happen -- they HAPPEN. Guess that's why I slog through the rest. (g)

    Deniz -- A musical montage would be just the ticket sometimes! :) And thanks -- if it looks easy, then I've done my job. But man, these bald spots SUCK.

    Barbara! Thanks so much for dropping in. I sort of consider our blog group therapy. (g)

    Kristen -- YES! I would also like to trademark the title of this post. But, alas, I hear some lil' green fella got to it first.

    Stephanie! Thanks so much! I will admit I worried people would wonder what the heck I was blathering on about. And yes, the pipes still work, though they're a bit rusty from disuse. (g) We'll have to hit the karaoke bar next time! And yanno, I've decided none of us need to grow up. Makes life more fun. :)

    Rowdy Rhonda in the HOUSE! Thanks for dropping in! But...ummm...are you implying I'm old?? Cuz I'm not. I'm SO not. Really. DO I LOOK OLD?? *sob* (g)

    Thanks everyone for dropping in -- you've all been entered into the drawing to win Don's book! Good luck!

  9. Your post made me realise something about the four of us and the things we have in common. Check it out:

    Archaeology/ anthropology/ marine biology/ history- courses of study or interests that involve dissecting and interpreting facts

    Law and law enforcement- at the least a willingness to argue critically for what we feel is "right" (I applied for law school too, though I settled for marrying a lawyer (wg), and also dabbled in forensics)

    It's almost like all four of us took the same bus-ride in our quest to understand the world and our position in it, and we each got off at a different stop (g). But in the end we've all reached the same destination- writing, where all that thinking and doing comes together in a way that allows us all to be creative.

    You have always inspired me with your butt-in-the-chair attitude- one day I'm going to be thanking you for it in my acknowledgements (g).

  10. Claire -- Like minds. :)

    And thanks! I need someone to kick my butt BACK into the chair once in a while, too. This blog is definitely helping already. (g)