Friday, August 26, 2011

You need to hear this.

Much like everything I have to say, you really need to hear this.

So go read this article. Don't worry, I'll wait. 

I don't think anybody tells you about the soul-crushing rejection you'll receive when you decide to become... a writer. Oh, people tell you. But you aren't listening. You've got visions of you in a coffee house, thoughtfully (and effortlessly) typing away on your laptop. Writing another critically acclaimed best seller (with a great cover.)

Fast forward five years. You're in the coffee shop and you're shaking, but it has nothing to do with caffeine. Your fingernails are dirty, clothes wrinkled. You mumble. Sometimes you yell out incoherently. The typing is a battle. And you know to your core that nobody - nobody - will ever want to read anything you've written. Except your mom. 

And then you finish and you can't even look at it, afraid it will have teeth and warts and hair and - damn it - it almost always does. But you jump back in and fix it. You shave its back and cut its nails and, maybe, it's presentable.

What keeps you going? What keeps you writing? I've written about this before, but it's always amazing to me: why do we put ourselves through this? It's got something to do with love and passion. And maybe some mental illness. But if I'm being serious, it's the knowledge that every time I open my laptop, I know it can happen.

And if you're a writer, you know what it is. When you are kicking ass. When everything you put down on paper is (or seems to be) amazing. When you don't want to push away from your writing desk, because you're not sure if it's ever going to come again. (A hint: it will.) 

And for me, that's enough. As much as I want to be published, writing is so much more than just having a book at Barnes and Noble. It's something that I really just love. It's something that - dramatic as this is going to sound - has literally saved me. But don't get me wrong: I want a book contract. I want to go to my writers group and be like, "Who's the best writer now you ass--"

Well, nevermind.

The point: I love to write. I can't imagine not doing it. And I will continue to rest comfortably on the moral ground high above the rest of the people who write only to be published... 

But then I read this:

A friend of mine once said she didn’t want to write a novel because she couldn’t stand the idea of working for years on a project that might fail.

Cough. Sputter. Choke. Die. Stab. Eye.

I've never really thought about that before, so thank you. Thank you very much. And even though I've had it happen twice now, it's never something that enters my mind when I start a new book. I never think, "Well, here's a few years of my life I'll never get back..."  

Jesus. Who thinks that way? Who puts themselves in that situation? Oh, yeah - writers. 

Is it worth the rejection? Is it worth knowing that you may spend the next years of your life doing something that ultimately will not be important to anybody other than yourself (and your mom)?

I think you know the answer.


  1. If you never try then you'll never succeed. The trying and tenacity are the only way "it" happens (whatever your "it" is).

    I know you'll never give up. I met you. You've got the fire in you, Mr. Bliss.

  2. If you're not writing because you love the story (and I don't mean every minute of the process because I know better than that--sometimes it's damn hard, but you do it anyway), then you're in this for the wrong reasons.