“Write what you’re called to write. Your job is not to pander or entertain. It’s to create, to share stuff from the soul as you are moved. If others are moved, that is merely coincidental. Consider it “gravy.” Your job is simply to write.”
The above is from a post by Jeff Goins. He has an extremely popular blog that I’m sure many of you are familiar with. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Goins, he is a writing guru. His posts are meant to inspire writers. I enjoy his blog and apparently so do many others as it was voted the number one blog for writers.
Anyway, I am not so sure I agree. I want people – a lot of people to read what I write. I can’t give you a number because the answer is always more. What’s wrong with ambition?
I belong to a few writers groups on LinkedIn. Recently, someone posed a question that goes something like this: Would you still write if you knew no one was going to read your work? Most of the responders said yes and that writing was in their blood. So, the writing is first for them and then for other people.
As you may be able to guess based on what I have said so far, my answer was different. Tell me when you make a great meal, do you want people to eat it? When you draw a beautiful picture, do you want people to see it? When you do something that you are proud of, particularly something that is creative, do you want to share it? Do you want other people to enjoy it?
Look at blogging. One of my favorite things about blogging is the instant feedback/reaction. In addition to the desire to hear feedback and engage in conversation about my writing (and other people’s writing), I used to be compulsive about checking stats. I know I am not the only one. My blogging friend over at ‘A Teachable Mom’ mentioned this in a post (http://ateachablemom.com/2012/11/07/rushing-is-the-new-crack/). Another blogging friend over at ‘Did That Just Happen’ mentioned how disappointed she was that a blog post failed. http://didthatjusthappenblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/bedtime-ramblings/
I was 21 years old and lying in my childhood bedroom. It was late at night, and I had just finished reading a book. It was the 4th and final (another book was added later, and I had not read the first at that point) book in the Rabbit series by John Updike. Now, I had read plenty of books before that. However, this book and character sucked me in like no other had prior. I don’t know exactly why the series so moved me, but I knew that it did.
It was after that literary experience that I truly contemplated being a writer. I wanted to move people. I wanted to make them laugh and cry, smile and curse. Now, my writing journey has zigged and zagged. However, my basic premise for writing has not. I want to move people. That can’t be done if my work stays on my computer, sits on a shelf, or is latched up in my head. It also can’t be done if I ignore the reader and the marketplace.
So, I say my job is to write. I need to write what moves me. However, a big part of what moves me is moving other people.
Tag Archives: reading
I look at my watch and crunch the numbers, and decide to keep going. One more. I have time. Besides, it’s a short chapter. Kind of. Everything else can wait.
Actually, the decision was made for me. I had to read more. Besides, I wasn’t really reading but consuming the book page by page. And I was ravenous.
I wanted more. More of the words which formed a running movie in my head. So, somehow in my crammed schedule, I stole time to read some more.
All you readers know just what I mean. I’m sure you could name a book or 30 that grabbed you like this. You rush to the end but are sad when it comes. Or maybe you slow down as you approach the conclusion savoring each scene, page, and word. When the end comes, you are both sad and exhilarated. For those of us who are also writers, maybe — like me — you feel a pang of jealousy and awe. You hope that you move people as you have been moved and are blown away by the writer’s skill.
I recently read Johnathan Tropper’s One Last Thing Before I Go. I became aware of Mr. Tropper while reading a review of one of his books at http://alenaslife.wordpress.com. One Last Thing Before I Go focuses on a man in his 40s. His life is screwed up both personally (divorced, very distant relationship with his daughter) and professionally (after being the drummer of a band that had one hit song, he periodically plays weddings and bar mitzvahs). He gets the news that he must have surgery, or he will die. He decides his life is not worth saving. However, before he goes, he sets three goals: be a better man, be a better father, and fall in love. The book is about his uneven pursuit to fill these goals. There were moments of humor, sadness, and downright lunacy which encompassed both. I lost track of how many times I read a line or scene that forced me to ponder and think, “I wish I would have said that.”
Ultimately, this book made me feel writerish (I know that’s not a word, but I am using it anyway. For anyone who used to listen to Richie Ashburn announce Phillies games, this is a tip of the cap to him; he used to periodically announce that a particular batter looks hitterish.) I added a few chapters to the novel that I have been writing in my head. I have a short story idea that I will be pursuing. I already stole an idea for a recent blog. I am in a writing state of mind.
So, grab a copy of One Last Thing Before I Go byJonathan Tropper. But be prepared to change your schedule.
Smart phones, internet, etc. allow us to be constantly connected. Of course, that has its good and bad points. One challenge that this is constant connectivity presents is getting away from the job.
Well, for me, as a teacher the summer is a perfect way to get away from the job. Or so you would think. Yes, my job ends to some degree at the school gates and more accurately in late June. However, in fact, I am always a teacher and an English teacher at that – whether my children or others around me like it or not.
Want to know what I mean? Check out a guest post I did for my blogger fried over at Insanity of Motherhood:
1:34, 2:18, 3:04, 3:41, 4:00, … This is not a bus schedule, a list of bible sections, or available time slots to have the cable guy come. No, these are the times that BR woke me on Saturday night.
I stopped at 4:00 not because he finally fell asleep. No, I stopped then because I finally got up, told my wife to try and sleep, and I took over trying to get BR back to sleep. I picked out one of his library books, Benjamin Franklinstein Lives by Matthew McElligott, and began reading. Fifty pages later and he was … declaring it morning and time to get up. You thought I was going to say he fell asleep – didn’t you? Oh how I wish you were right!
No luck. One of the blogs I follow is Being Mummy (www.elskenewman.com). One topic that the blogger has written a lot about is the difficulties she and her husband are having getting their child into a good sleep pattern. The baby has been giving them long sleepless nights. I’ve left comments saying, “Good luck, been there, be strong, it will happen eventually, enjoy your 80 ounces of coffee,” etc. While reading the blog and writing the comments, I have felt great relief: Thank G-d my children are past that stage!
After all, my boys are 8 and 5.5. They are way past the up-all-night stage. (The first time BR slept through the night, I told colleagues at work the next day that I had never loved him more.) Sure, I know there is the occasional illness, anxiety, or excitement that may awaken or keep the boys awake a bit – maybe an hour. Nothing a book or lying next to them could not cure. What you may be wondering caused me to be soooooo wrong on Saturday night?
Well, on Sunday morning, BR and I were scheduled to be on the 9:48 a.m. train out of Radburn with our final destination being Trenton, NJ. At Trenton, my Mom was picking him to spend a few days at her condo. We’ll be driving down on Thursday night. This is the longest – by far – that he will be away from us.
How excited is he? And quote.
“Tomorrow will be the second best day of my life.”
“So, you are not coming with me? Or Dad?”
“Of course, I can behave – SJ won’t be there.”
“I’ll only miss you a little bit.”
“You’re not coming with me, right?
So, my parenting expertise gained from years in said role tells me he is ready for this experience. Duuuh.
I’m happy he is excited to spend time with his grandmother. I’m happy he is ready for some independence. I’m happy he is maturing. Before his next getaway, though, I’ll be spiking his milk and cookies. I need my sleep!