"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dusting Off the Brain Wheels

Ah, ambition. You make it all seem so easy. And yet, I find myself staring at the computer screen, waiting for brilliant words to flow out of my fingers and onto the page. Suddenly, it isn't so easy any more. Suddenly, it's overwhelmingly hard. Even after I've managed to pour some questionably brilliant thoughts onto the page, I must tear it apart again and again with editing. Fiddling and adjusting, rewording and getting rid of entirely. All in an attempt to create literary perfection. Cruel, cruel brain that can't supply immediate genius.
At least when the words come out I have something to play with. It's when they won't that I'm really in trouble. What then? I sit, staring, waiting, giving an awkward cough now and again as though I'm sitting in a doctor's waiting room. Wishing the rusty wheels in my head would start turning, praying for something smart to come out, or at the very least entertaining. Being a writer is not an easy job. It requires miles of creativity, hours upon hours of hard work and worst of all - self discipline. It is not just literary accomplishment I strive for, it is a better, more responsible self. I don't just want to be proud of my work. I want to be proud of myself.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Book Party

Last night I went to a book party. My mother in law had invited me, it was an acquaintance of her's that had written the book. Initially, I was very excited. I couldn't wait to meet the author in question, even make a few connections in the publishing world. When I got there, however, I realized I was sorely mistaken. It was in a dark, nearly deserted basement of an obscure little hall. Confused, and a little embarrassed for the author, I sought her out in hopes of picking her brain. I wanted to hear all about her adventures in finding an agent, going through the editing process, selling the book to a publisher. As it turns out, I would hear none of it. She self published. Which of course immediately explained the deserted basement book party. Yikes.
I don't think I'll ever self publish. I think it takes away from the feeling of accomplishment. When you self publish, you only need your own approval. When you get published by an actual company, that means you passed inspection and actually warranted their investing their time and money in you. Even if you never become a best seller, at least you'd know that there were people who thought your book was worth publishing. Instead of, you know, just you. The whole night was an eye opener for me on how much harder I need to work, and how much it will all be worth it when I don't end up throwing myself a book party in a sparsely attended hall basement.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Road to Improvement

Yesterday I took my first Personal Essay Writing Class. I'd signed up for it a while ago and was especially excited for it. I've been looking into freelance writing over the past little while, brainstorming pitches and what not, hoping to find a way to support my novel writing that didn't involve catering to rich, bored housewives who enjoyed using me as their personal slave. But here's the thing, I don't like writing dry articles.
After I'd bought a huge stack of my favourite magazines, snuggled onto the couch and begun reading them in the hopes of figuring out what the magazines were looking for, what had already been done and etc, I realized one thing. I don't read magazines. They're boring. The only thing I do with a magazine is flip through it. I never read the articles. They're boring. When it comes to a magazine I'm all about the visual, with the information in short, concise blurbs. I hate long articles. They're dry, boring, and exhaustive. I don't even enjoy the true stories. They're always about some brave individual overcoming some horrible obstacle like "I spent seven days lost at sea" or, "my brother turned out to be a serial killer". No thanks. I flip right past.
How can I write something I won't even read? The only articles I enjoy reading are the snarky, sarcastic, self deprecating personal essays. Which is why I took the class. Maybe, I could make my income writing hilarious personal essays on society, technology and everything else under the sun. Much the way my favourite author, Jen Lancaster, does. Each month she writes a personal essay for the Chicago Tribune. They're funny, completely unserious, and utterly delightful. I could do that.
The only problem? Newspapers and magazines aren't really looking for that. They're looking for articles, products, information. They don't care about my humorous take on movie theater etiquette. (Even though they should. Have you gone to the movies lately? It's insane.) I don't know what to do. I can't keep working retail. Every day I go in another piece of my soul dies. I have to find a way to support myself while I'm finishing the book. Perhaps the class can shed some light on the situation. Meanwhile, at least I'm attempting to improve myself.