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Sunday, November 26, 2006

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Pedal to the Metal

There are times I hate writing, days when I would sooner do just about anything than sit down and wrench forth one. more. word. Until recently, I thought this was my dark, terrible secret and if any of the Real Writers caught wind of it, they'd revoke my artistic license. I remember tagging along to a dinner with several of them at a literary festival years ago, and marvelling when one excused herself to go back to her hotel room and write. No deadline, no editor calling for pages, no compelling reason I could see for leaving a perfectly charming dinner party in full swing. She just felt like she would go write. I thought she was barking mad.

I was as envious as I was mystified. I wondered what it would be like to be so passionate about writing you'd race to your room to be alone with it as eagerly as you would your lover. My own work ethic was based on panic. If I didn't have a deadline looming, preferably a live audience waiting, forget it. I had a lot of shame about this for years, because I thought it meant I was lazy, as well as a fraud. I have matured a lot in my craft and in my person since then, but I am still more driven by the pleasure of delivering what I have written than the act of writing itself, which is exhausting for someone as extroverted as me. I'm all about closing the deal.

As Neil Young once said (in response to a producer's suggestion that his singing was a bit flat), "that's my style, man." I'm learning to work with it. I accept that I crave feedback. I'm no good at the long stretches of solitary confinement that more introverted writers thrive on. I'm a people-person and I do my best work when I feel connected with an audience, even if its an audience of one. I need deadlines to get going. I need external commitments to focus. Most of all, I need to keep going, even on days I hate it and am sick to death of my own voice, and the shame and doubt come back to tell me the jig is up. I keep going, because I know that if I stop, the goddamn bus will blow.

It's a wild ride. But so far I've managed to hang onto my license.

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Blogger Meg4Meg said...

I found you by hitting the NaBloPoMo randomizer and then I got lost here. Loved your piece on American Thanksgiving vs. Canadian thanksgivng.
You are a gifted writer!

Hey I always thought attending charming dinner parties counted as legitimate writer's research.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Mombat said...

Me, too. Just stumbled upon your blog. Nice to know you -- and great work here!

5:12 PM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

see you have lots of audience. keep slogging.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

only my mom could see two commenters as "lots" of audience. LOL!

actually, I did have a lot of visitors yesterday. but you three are my favorites.

thanks for stopping by and thanks for the encouragement.

6:49 AM  
Blogger jenlemen said...

i think this might be an extrovert curse. i'm positive half my problem half the time is that i cannot sit with a piece of writing long enough to feel like i can send it out, and then i can't bear how long it will take to find out if someone likes it. hence, the blog.

i bet that writer girl was a megaintrovert who needed a little break. ;)

10:45 AM  

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