Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Seriously, why are we doing this?

Today's post title is a question we have to ask every once in a while because the unexamined book is not worth writing.

When I started this blog, I promised bouts of self-doubt. Well, you can’t say I don’t come through on my promises.

Life is getting in the way. I am getting in my way.

You ever just want to stop this novel and start a new one? I do right now. I want to divorce my novel for not being everything it vowed to be when we moved in together. I want to tell my novel what I really think of it. I want to leave my novel and find an out-of-the-way hammock where I can read and read and read, even though that just makes it worse. Reading is how all this writing trouble got started.

Do you know that some people get into writing to make money? I taught literature for a while. One of my students spoke up one day to explain that he didn’t think we should bother reading poetry because “those people only write that crap to get rich.”

I'll wait until you're done laughing. Go ahead. Take your time. OK. Ready? No? One more minute? Sure, okay. Now we can go on.

I've written about writerly disillusionment, feeling like an outcast, wondering if I have any talent at all, contemplating why I can’t just be satisfied with what I have, always searching/trying/wishing for something more--

What makes me/us do that?

Sometimes I think the urge to write may be a chemical imbalance.

Why can’t I be as cool as The Intern, or savvy as this book guy, or talented as Simone Elkeles, whose book I am devouring like mint chocolate chip ice cream? She makes it seem so effortless.

Update: For some reason, I burned under the misconception that Perfect Chemistry was Elkeles's first book, but she's got 5 others listed on her writer page. Makes me feel a little better. Literary phenoms upset my equilibrium.

More annoying thoughts: I’m not smart enough. I’m not good-looking enough. I’m not nice enough. I’m not skinny enough.

The crux: I am not enough.
The unbelievable truth: I am enough and gosh darnit, people like me.

Anyway, I am reading. I am not writing. What are you doing?


  1. Oh goodness, I could relate to this post on so many levels. The self-doubt, the conflicting feelings towards your book and the feeling that no matter what you do, you are never good enough. But like you said, at the end of the day you ARE good enough. Writing or no writing. And sometimes it's nice to put our writing away and curl up with a stack of great books.

  2. Oh yes, I feel like this almost all the time. Sometimes I HATE writing and I wonder why on earth I thought I should try to write a book. Sometimes I curse myself for ever starting, because now when I read I get caught up in analyzing the story arc, and characterization, and conflict, and I can't just sit back and enjoy a book anymore! (Unless it is an awesome book like THE HUNGER GAMES and I get too lost in the story to think about other things.)

    But you can do it. You are good enough. One of these days I'm going to say, "I've known Marie Devers for years-- long before she was famous (and rich!)" And my friends will all be jealous.

    I'm actually really excited about my new WIP now. It feels so nice to start something new!

  3. "I want to divorce my novel for not being everything it vowed to be when we moved in together."

    I like that a lot :)

  4. "My story loves me, it loves me not. It loves me, it loves me not." Some days I need a flower with LOTS of petals. But your story rocks. So dont doubt yourself. How are you ever gonna rich that way? (insert evil laugh here)

  5. I so feel you on this. This week I spent buried in my first novel, revising it after receiving a request for a full that I was not expecting (full story on my blog on why it wasn't ready). The entire time I was doing it, I kept thinking--god, i suck, why am i even bothering, blah blah blah. All we can do is work through the doubt, otherwise we'll never write anything at all.