Sunday, June 12, 2011

No Other Option

I met with a new writer's group for the first time last week. We drank wine, ate cheese, told stories, and read out loud. After just one meeting, I feel it is a wonderful thing. The three other women in the group are vibrant, funny, and wickedly smart. I feel lucky we met and I look forward to what the group will become, if it becomes anything at all.

As we introduced ourselves to one another and talked about our work and our goals, I was interested to learn how we all fit writing into our lives. Of course, it was different for each of us because we all had different commitments to writing. Some had projects they were very committed to and others were still exploring what they wanted to work on.

It came out that I work full time and write fiction on weeknights and weekends. Everyone asked how I did that. I just said, 'If I don't write it, it will never get written. And that's not an option.'

Most of them said they were not at that point yet. They asked me how I got there. And I couldn't answer them.

I say this, not to rub it in or make it sound like I'm some amazing workhorse (in fact, I don't think I work hard enough) but because I can't really describe how I reached that point.

I can tell you when. I know it to the day because it was my birthday. October 20, 2008. I walked into a novel-writing workshop and I just thought, I'm going to write a novel and it's not an option to fail. And when I was finished with that one, I told myself, 'I'm going to write another one'. And when people ask me what I am going to do after the second one, I say, 'I'm going to write another one.'

So far, that's just how it's going to go. Who knows. Maybe that will change. Maybe I'll hang up the towel. But right now, it's a point of no return. I don't know how I got here. I don't know if it's good, bad, crazy or all three. I just don't see any other option.

Do you feel you've reached that point in your writing or is it more complicated than that?


  1. I try to write as much as possible, but I find it hard to be as disciplined as you are for two reasons, 1) making sure that my back doesn't end up in the state that it was, when I sat too long writing at the computer and 2) I suffer with lack of confidence and at times, I find myself not daring to go near a computer or notebook, because I convince myself that I'm rubbish at writing.

    Despite all of this, even though I'm not as dedicated as you are, I still write. Not because I want major fame and fortune, but because writing is something I just do and always will.

    Great Post.

    Great post.

  2. I also work full time (although as a teacher I have 10 weeks off in the summer)and write on my evenings, weekends,and in the summer. People ask me the same thing all the time: How do you do it? I try to answer politely, but what i'm wondering is: What's supposed to be stopping me?

    In fact, on the rare occasion I have nothing to write -- maybe I'm still brainstorming what comes next in my story -- I wonder how I will fill up my evening.

    I admit, it helps that my children are 14 and 11 and self-sufficient. It was way harder when I was responsible for the personal hygiene of 3/4 the people in my house ...

  3. I'm the same way - work full-time, write on my lunch breaks and some evenings. I think saying "it's not an option not to write" is the best way to do it. Then your mind knows to get ready.

  4. I think that the answer to this one is - 'Writing is us'
    I can't think when I did not write. Some things I do when I have to or the mood takes me, but I write just because I am me. If I did not write then I would be somebody else .... and that would make life very confusing.
    I intend to write a bit about my writing in the near future ... so keep a look out for it.

  5. Writing the second book is a big deal! And the third and fourth. I think it's kind of addicting, actually.

  6. I really enjoy the creation process. I like the idea of making someone laugh or smile or cry. I won't ever stop writing though because it's too much a part of who I am. (Though I'm not sure how I got to this point either . . .)

    I love it!

  7. I don't know what I would do if I didn't write, research or blog...I would just have an empty spot in my head...(visualize the cartoon version of me)...