Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Vying for New Award: World's Surliest Writer

Teenagers, get outta my way! You're not the only ones who need to wallow in the slough of angst. I am certain that the angst I feel today is broader and more compelling than the angst I felt at thirteen or seventeen. (And yet still marvelously self-centered.)

As a teenager, I was more confident than I am today. After all, I faced seven teachers every day whose role was to encourage me.

Today, there's my 76-year-old mother-in-law, a retired teacher who just can't stop. Last time she spent the weekend with us, she insisting on “helping” me clean the kitchen by holding the dustpan for me so that I had to take excessive care not to whisk dust particles into her face. Her enthusiastic praise? "You're such a good sweeper. Not everyone can sweep like you do."

Wow. Talk about your skill sets. The world cries out for more excellent sweepers.


Which pinpoints the source of my angst.

I wanna author fiction. I've chosen the writer's life as the path that matters to me. Some days, you just have to wonder why. I've rejected the forms of writing that come more easily to me. I've already written for a newspaper, for corporate PR, for ad agency PR campaigns. For volunteer organizations and my church.

Fiction has, so far, rejected me.

But it appears that the urge to write is terminal. As my writer friend Patti said the other day, “Wouldn’t you rather have people at your funeral say, “Wasn’t she trying to write a book?” instead of, “Didn’t she keep a clean house?”

Apparently, the answer is yes. I’m still writing.


JoAnn said...

I feel your pain, Chris! I've done that other writing too. It's hard. I like to make stuff up!

And people at my funeral will say "OMG -- did you ever see the inside of her house? She tried to keep people out, but I stole a peek once when I was delivering a case of Thin Mints. DIS-GUS-TING!"


Cari Hislop said...

Never say die! Write from the heart whatever it is you feel compelled to write. There will be readers. If you can't get the publishing industry to believe in you then publish yourself. I self-publish. I'm selling my stories and making people laugh. In another ten years and I plan to be supporting my husband. There are more types of readers out there than most of us realize. There's this author who wrote the book he wanted to read. It's an action story written in present tense...yes, present tense.
He couldn't get it published so he went solo. He wrote a whole series in present tense...and now he's making serious money! There are readers out there who want present tense...who would have thought? Not me! He was interviewed by Smashwords (one of the places he sells his stories) Note how much he earned last year. It's amazing!

Lexi said...

I am not a good sweeper. I hate it. Hate to dust too. So, I definitely will not be remembered for those things. Keep on keeping on. If you've got the disease (and you do. I still remember that poetry class we took in college) then nothing will do but for you to write.

Heather said...

Sooooo there with you, but I can't even say I clean well. I do a pretty good job at pestering people, but you don't get awards for that :(

M.V.Freeman said...

I don't like housework.

I do what I must to make sure that I'm not condemmed.

Seriously though, I know how you feel Chris. Someone once said (and I'm para-phrasing) that the journey is the joy not the arrival. (I'd rather be published and keep moving forward..what do you think?)

You will do this, I know you will.

TDH said...

I can sympathize with you Chris. Some forms of writing, especially technical writing, are an absolute bore for me.

But speaking of non-boring topics: I love present tense! I write nearly all my work in present tense. I fell in love with this form nearly 20 years ago after reading the cyberpunk novel "Hardwired" by Walter Jon Williams:

Good luck in your endeavours Chris (and everyone else too)!


Louisa Cornell said...

I have given up a lot of things for my writing - for the time it takes, for the conferences I've attended, for the workshops I've taken and for the research I've done and will continue to do.

However, when the time comes to put me to bed with a shovel, in spite of being told I am completely impractical and sometimes even certifiable for some of the decisions I've made regarding my time and money and energy the following will NOT be on my headstone :

Boy, she kept the neatest house.

Wow, she ate really great home-cooked meals she prepared herself.

Her house and yard were always in perfect repair and she spent all of her spare money making her house the most livable and socially acceptable place to live.

She had a new kitchen sink.

What might be found there instead :

She loved to write and she pursued a writing career with determination and zeal. And she got to attend some great conferences and made some great friends.

Carla Swafford said...

It's like that little adage, when you're on your deathbed, will you say, "I wished I kept a cleaner house." NO! I hope to say, "BUT I've got another story to write!"

Lisa D. said...

Someday, some magical, wonderful day, I'll be able to afford a maid. It's my destiny. Truly.

Chris Bailey said...

JoAnn, I love that glimpse into your home. Can you believe Thin Mints only come in single-serving boxes now? Can't wait to place this year's order!

Chris Bailey said...

I'm thankful that we have so many options. Thanks for the URL--looking forward to seeing just how much.

Chris Bailey said...

Ah, Lexi,
Who would have thought that poetry writing class would lead, roundabout, to this? Can't wait to get my hands on your book--the cover is killer!

Chris Bailey said...

I think pestering is part of the process!

Chris Bailey said...

I'm enjoying the journey, but I really, really would like to take the fork to Publication, and then travel on to Multipubbed.

Chris Bailey said...

Yesterday, in the midst of a rewrite, I found that present tense was emerging. Not sure if I can keep it up, but while it's coming I'm giving it a try. Thanks for the link!

Chris Bailey said...

You just can't do it all! Writing and friends are well worth the time.

Chris Bailey said...

The stories build on themselves, don't they? Sometimes it's hard to stick to one when so many other are screaming to be heard!

Chris Bailey said...

"They" always say don't count on making a living from your writing. But surely we'll eventually make enough from writing to cover the cost of a little housekeeping help!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Well, at least she wasn't belittling your sweeping skills. ;-)

I had a housecleaning service once for about two months. It was bliss.

But, I'm happier home writing in a dirty house than I ever was working 55 hours/week with a clean one. Good luck!