Oct 16

Realistic People Don't Become Writers!

For a friend who wants to write a novel I suggested doing National Novel Writing Month, telling him it was a joyful experience and November was coming up soon. Write-ins with fellow “NaNoWriMo” novelists are scheduled at your local libraries, coffeehouses, church basements, private homes, all 30 days of November—every day. We set word-count goals (about 1600 words a day). The discipline is heady. Your goal at the end of the month: 50,000 words of a first draft. You find depths of creative power you didn't know you had. Do it and feel great. By the way, it costs nothing.

He said, “Well, it might not be realistic to crank out a novel in one’s first try.”

I said, “Realistic people don’t become writers.”

Is novel-writing on your bucket list? Visit Nanowrimo.org and sign up. You get tracking tools, prep talks, pep talks, notices of meetings in your area. At meetings we got coffee, pizzas, and roomsful of novelists from age 10 to age 85, all typing like mad. More than anything, a writer needs support from other writers. If you’re isolated, scared, think it's unrealistic, or never got around to it, this is an opportunity to deal yourself a wild card.
Mar 29

They Don't Want You to Write

Am haunted by the women who sought me out after Saturday's talk at "Celebrating Women Over 50." I'd said that as new writers they should expect overt and covert opposition, especially when they seek solitude -- because the woman who shuts herself away to do art threatens those who think she "should be" a voluntary slave to her family, friends, job, house. I had said, "They're just jealous," because in an hour I couldn't to explain everything about it: that "It's not that they want you to care for THEM. It's that they can't stand seeing YOU taking care of YOURSELF." There'a discussion about exactly this in the book The Artist's Way (pp. 198-200). Author Julia Cameron calls such relatives and friends "Wet Blankets." I recommended writers' groups for support. But opposition should have been the topic of the whole workshop. It hit a major nerve.

One woman described her husband getting nervous and suddenly needing her when she tried to shut her door to write. "What would happen if I called HIM at work and told him to come home immediately and take care of MY emotional needs?" she asked. Of course, short of illness or death in the family he would tell her to take a flyer, and rightly so. Another woman described her husband's verbal abuse. It was classic:

1. Horrible verbal abuse occurs regardless of the seriousness of "what's wrong." (Crooked miniblind is as enraging as a wrecked car or an IRS audit.)
2. The abuser denies that it is abuse.
3. The abuser declares that if anything, the abused is the abusive and crazy one.
4. Verbal abuse never occurs in the presence of witnesses (except children, whose testimony is easily discredited).
5. The abuser denies that abuse occurred, even when there is proof, such as a recording.
6. To others the abuser is affable and reasonable and socially is the better-liked of the pair.

To anyone out there with this problem, let me save you five or ten years of trying to fix it: There is NO cure short of separation.

The people to hang out with, live with, be with, as you begin to write, are the people who support your efforts, and if you haven't got them at home, join a writers' group.