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Why Write?

“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.

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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Not Narcissistic

I was going to write about my SJ turning 6 this past weekend.

I was going to mention how proud I am that he learned to read  on his own.

I was going to convey how he cracks me up when I am washing him with his instructions as though he is getting a massage, “A little to the left. Ahh.”

I was going to tell you about how he is still obsessed with Thomas.

I was going to relate to you that he is a bit of a klutz.

I was going to note to you that he is a great hugger and loves to fall into your arms.

I was going to speak of his discovery of the deliciousness of chocolate.

I was going to reveal to you that he is always loud whether he means to be or not.

But then yesterday, I was roaming around WordPress. I was looking to read some parenting blogs as I am wont to do on an increasingly regular basis.  I was on for just a few minutes when I lost track of how many bloggers were writing about their children’s birthdays. Was another one needed? Last night my writing group friend mentioned that bloggers, and much of our society, are narcissistic. Of course, he said, “Present company excluded.”

I had been thinking the same thing. After all, does anyone outside of family and friends really care about SJ and the habits noted above? Does this information have one iota of impact upon anyone in the blogosphere?  After all, how many people had birthdays on Saturday, November 10th? Does 100 million sound reasonable? Hell, even in my family we had another birthday. Had my father been alive, he would have turned 80.  So, do I really need to share this information?

After all, I’m the kind of friend that has 20-minute conversations where I spend the first 18 minutes asking about the other person. Unless, I really have something to say, I’m quite content with that breakdown. Isn’t that the antithesis of narcissistic? In addition, I have neither time nor interest in reality shows (Okay, I often watch pieces of Project Runway with my wife. Yes, I did the same when she used to watch America’s Next Top Model. That was just because I was trying to be a good husband and take an interest in her interests. Really. Promise).

No, I am not narcissistic (well, I may have some of those traits but this is not one of them). I can’t accept that label. Am I hiding behind a blog due to my shyness? Maybe I do, a little. I look at my blog and the blogosphere as a way to form community. I look it as a way of shrinking the world and bonding over common concerns. I look at it as a way to learn/grow my writing skills while doing the same for others.

Maybe there is a bit of narcissism and hiding involved in blogging. I don’t care. So, what was I saying about SJ?
 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Read and Write

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.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Please Come Back

It’s enough.

But it’s still on my mind.

Don’t bore your readers.  They’re tired of hearing you talk about this.

But aren’t you supposed to write what is on your mind? Isn’t that how the best blog posts get written?

I guess so. But consider your audience.

I do consider them, but I need one more entry, and I think it will be out of my system.

I’m sorry. Did you hear that? It was a conversation I was having with my writer self. I recently read about someone else conversing with their muse over at a blog – authenticlifejourneys.com I follow (and recommend by the way).

Anyway, the storm and its affects are still on my mind. You see my family and I are still without power. I know, I know – so many people are really suffering while we are just inconvenienced.  I understand and feel bad for complaining.  However, last night the temperature got below 50 in my house while the darkness descended by 5. It was a long cold night and I am sick of this! I want my life back.

This weekend was a tease. We spent the weekend at my mother’s condominium. Heat, light – ahh the comforts of modern life.  It was beautiful and so appreciated.  It was hard to leave. I prayed that when we got home, and the electric would be back on.

No such luck. The electric company (PSEG) said we would be back by Sunday at midnight, then Monday at midnight, and then Tuesday at midnight. The have a PDF with each county and when the power will come on at each place. If they can predict it with such accuracy, why can’t they just make it faster? I’m sure they are doing their best but that does not take away the frustration.

I have been moving slowly since the storm has hit. This is not like me – I’m a doer. I make lists. I accomplish.  And now Sandy has struck, and everything has changed. Life has taken on a Ms. Havisham like pace.

I woke up last night somewhere in the early a.m. after dreaming of warmth.  I popped my head out from under my covers hoping that the heat had come on. The chill that hit my nose put reality in my face. I readjusted my hat and snuggled against the flannel sheets.

In the meantime, I am back at work and the children are back at school. We will return home as if it was a normal day. Then the darkness will descend, and we will be left sitting and hoping that tonight will be the night when normality truly returns.  I am tired of this!

 

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Reject Me!!!

Sometimes in life we face rejection. I know positive-thinking types might say something like, “Well, you learn as much as or more from your failures as you do from your successes.” They may have a point. However, rejection still sucks. Yet, I crave rejection.

A few years ago, I initiated the YOC. YOC stands for year of communication. I was tired of the irony that–despite the incredible ease and multiple outlets for communication–people seem worse at communicating. One of my very few type A personality traits is returning calls/emails/texts etc. expediently. I don’t accept someone saying I was too busy to get back to you. Do you know anyone who is not busy these days? Okay, there may be a couple, but you know what I mean. There is always time for a two-line email or an 8-word text. “Crazy busy over here. Talk to you soon.” I am perfectly content with that type of rejection. So, go ahead friends/family – reject me.

There was a point that I was considering switching schools. Fortunately, I was able to get some interviews. Unfortunately, none of the interviews materialized into jobs. It’s okay. That’s life. I can move on. Really, I can. But something about the process pissed me off. I took time out of my schedule to prepare myself, come to you, answer your questions, and send you a thank you. Is it too much to expect a rejection letter? Tell me no thanks, good luck, and see you never. Yeah, I can easily get over the lack of communication, but it’s not cool dude. Not cool. Just reject me.

One of my goals this summer was to send off some of my work in the hopes of getting it published. I did have a touch of success and a couple of misses (including one where the publication simply publishes the winners without letting the rest of us know we were not chosen). The rest of my submissions – to quote the band Genesis – “No Reply at All.” Now, some (hopefully all) will be contacting me shortly to let me know that they received my submission. The editors will tell me my work blew them way. Ok, maybe not. I can handle it. A writer with thick skin (well, at least not reed thin) – can you believe it? Anyway, reject me.

I feel better now that I have gotten this off of my chest. In fact, I am ready to scream reject me. Just don’t ignore me.

 
24 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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