Moments in Writing: Know When to Give Up

I took on a writing commission months ago. The brief was to write a dozen children’s stories for someone’s niece and nephew, working in details of the kids’ lives to make a keepsake for Christmas. I was given a deposit and let loose.

I can’t do it.

It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve tried, and tried, and tried. But I just can’t wrap my mind around writing for children. C says it would be easier to fake it if I were a fantasy writer…“Kids like that kind of stuff.”

True, but I’m not elves-and-magic-beans. I’m murder-you-and-feed-you-to-pigs. I don’t have kids. I don’t know the first thing about age-appropriate stories. I didn’t even read kids’ books when I was one.

I think part of growing your artistic career is setting limits and knowing yourself. So as much as I’d love for those kids to get my stories under their tree, I’m going to have to refund that deposit.

I thought I would feel guilty. But instead I feel proud. Proud of myself for moving forward with my career the way I want, not the way other people expect. It feels good.

30 Excuses for Why I “Can’t” Write Today

I’m tired of making excuses to myself. So in a fit of pique I scribbled out a list of all the reasons I can think of not to write.

These are transcribed exactly how I wrote them, questionable grammar and all.

1. It’s hard.
2. I can’t make a routine because of my shifts @ work.
3. I’ll never make a living at it. (why bother?)
4. My friends are humoring me.
5. I’ll probably get sued.
6. No one reads horror.
7. I’ll never get rich writing e-books.
8. The internet is more fun.
9. I need uninterrupted time and quiet and a thunderstorm or perfect Fall sunlight and…
10. Who do I think I am, anyway?
11. My ideas are stupid and no one has told me.
12. I don’t like to give up other things to make the time.
13. The tax forms are confusing.
14. It’s all been done before.
15. I can’t describe exactly what I see in my head.
16. I’m afraid of cliches.
17. I don’t have a proper editor and am probably making so many mistakes.
18. My office is messy.
19. I want the lifestyle but I don’t want to put in the work — I want it just to happen.
20. My job gets in my way.
21. It’ll just get stolen anyway.
22. There are a million other people doing the same thing as me at the same time as me.
23. I don’t have an English degree.
24. I’m already behind on The Plan.
25. It’s a pain to lug my laptop around.
26. I could write more at work if there was a table in the locker room for me to sit at.
27. I’m not great at networking.
28. I can’t concentrate.
29. What if I actually write a novel then hate it?
30. I’m scared.

Honestly, there are some thoughts on this list that I’m not especially proud of. But I’m glad I wrote it out: the whole list was written in only a couple of minutes, and it felt good to get it out of my system. I figured I’d post it here as a confession of sorts. There must be other (new) authors out there feeling at least some of these things.

Now that I see it in front of me, I can see how ridiculous some of these thoughts are, and how the “obstacles” that seemed so big are really just me being lazy or cowardly or…

Feel free to make whatever comments you’d like on this one: I’m having an introspective Let’s Get Real kind of moment. Do you share any of these feelings? What are your go-to excuses?

Moments in Writing: It’s So Easy to Write a Novel

I was talking to a couple of acquaintances, one of whom is in the process of building a house. Let’s call her…oh hell, it’s late. We’ll call her A. A was exhausted and still had months of work to put in before the house would be complete. Exhausted, she flopped down at the table and sighed. The other one…Z…asked what was the matter.

“Oh, I just have so much work to do. The whole house still needs to be painted.” A’s eyes lit up and she addressed the both of us. “You wanna come paint this weekend?”

I blurted out “No!“, then explained that I had scheduled some novel-writing time that weekend. (Also? There is no chance in hell I’m painting your house.)

She grinned and offered to trade, then said, “Don’t worry, I’m kidding. I can’t write.”

Z jumps in: “But writing a novel would be way easier.”

Wait, what?

“A has to paint the whole house. That would take way longer.”

I sputtered and had nothing to say, which if you know me says a lot. It’s faster to write a novel? Really? Then what the hell is my problem?