Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why Aren't You Writing?

A comment seen too frequently for my taste.
Sometimes said in a humorous, guilty, self-deprecrecating manner, but all too often in a scolding, superior, I-must- slap-your-hands, self-righteous way.
Not a question, but a condemnation.
Usually by Anonymous.
You know Anonymous.
He often decides that discussion has gone on too long for his refined sensibilities; that all you poor hobbyists and wannabes are Wasting Time; that Real Writers chain themselves to the computer 24/7, relentlessly pounding out 573 page Great Novels and don't have time to blog, read other blogs, comment on other blogs.
Anonymous falls like a flight of Erinyes on the unsuspecting and points out that we are unfit and unclean - deviant heretics at the altar of the Nine.

Well, bugger me Elmo, Anon, who appointed you hall monitor?
Is your computer incapable of running more than one program at once? Can you walk and chew gum?
Aren't blog posts writing?
The task of writing varies in intensity.
The attention a WIP requires varies according to its stages.
Are you creating, revising, tweaking, meeting a deadline, or sitting staring at the screen with a pencil stuffed up your nose?
Sometimes, depending on the particular stage, you need relief, laughter, inspiration or advice.
That's when I read your blogs, that when I avidly devote myself to blogs like l'enchanteresse, l' incroyable, l'inconnu Miss Snark.

So, Anon, put away the pony whip.
On second thought, stick it in a dark and private place.

22 comments:

Ric said...

Well, aren't we feisty this morning?
Am reminded of an anecdote from college. (Hope I remember it right, was a long time ago)
Seems Sinclair Lewis, who disliked public speaking, was forced by his publisher to go on a speaking tour. The first event was in an auditorium filled with hundreds of eager fans. He walked to the podium and asked, "How many of you want to be writers?"
Nearly every hand went up, of course.
"Then why the hell aren't you home writing?" and he walked off.

Bernita said...

Good morning, Ric.
That anecdote nails Lewis as a conceited,contemptuous, arrogant ass...

Sela Carsen said...

Argh. I can't write at home anyway. Well, I can, but I'm more easily distracted. I tend to get most of my rough draft pages done elsewhere -- in a coffeeshop, on road trips, sitting in a parked car waiting for one or the other of my children.

But even when I'm writing, I often take time to consider other things. Life doesn't stop just because I'm an arteest.

Bernita said...

I do an considerable amount in my head, Sela. Walking the dogs, also road trips, lying in bed staring at the ceiling - which sometimes leads to dashing to the computer in the middle of the night before that perfect, exquisite, precise word or phrase or developing scene dances and disappears like water on a hot griddle.
I think I have permanent bruises on both hips from crashing into the furniture on the way.

Robin Caroll said...

I keep a tape recorder by my bed for that very reason, Bernita!

Tsavo Leone said...

If Anon. says "why aren't you writing?" then surely the correct response should be "well, why aren't you?"

I have a huge WIP sat on my PC. It's the third PC it has inhabited. Currently I'm refamiliarising myself with it's various twists and turns, whilst also editing the grammer/typo's/etc., whilst I gear myself up for the final mad dash for the finishing line. And, whilst I'm doing that I'm reading up on the how, who, and why of getting it published. And, whilst I'm doing that I'm... well, actually trying to earn an honest wage out in the real world and maintain some semblence of a 'normal' life.

I think my point is that a writer who writes for the love of writing is always writing, even when they're not.

Anyone who writes anonymously ("Ha, you cannot see me, I do not exist, I am invisible!" Oh please, get over yourself! At least take the time to invent a cool alternate persona and show some creativity) to complain "why aren't you writing?" either isn't a 'writer who...' (and thus is not sufficiently qualified to offer said commentary) or simply hasn't got the testicular fortitude to own up to their own failure in pursuit any literary aspirations they might have (we all judge by our own standards after all). Or they have no life (outside of critising others, obviously)...

Then again, opinions are like arseholes: they come in all shapes, sizes, and flavours (or so I've been told), and everyone has one. So maybe I'm wrong and they're right, and I should be writing... writing... writing...

Sorry. Long comment. Kinda got me seeing red.

Bernita said...

Robyn, I admire you. You can operate a tape recorder in the middle of the night.
I would be fumbling on the floor to find it among the pile of books, the pen and paper,the extra comforter, the dog, the overturned wastebasket...

Thank you, Tsavo. There are all sorts of very good reasons why a writer is not writing every last living minute.
Some people are "anonymous" for very good reasons as well, but this particular criticism is almost always posted by an "Anon."

I'm at a similar stage of fleshing and tweaking.Perhaps it never stops until the galleys are sent.
And feel free to post a post as long as you want - we ellipt and abbreviate too often.

Gabriele C. said...

Hm, I really should cut down my blogroll, it's so distracting. ;-)

Gah, even Sheila aka PBW who does write half a dozen books every year, keeps a blog, and reads other blogs. She once said that when she's under deadline stress she might put up a timer and limit her daily internet time, and last week she stopped blogging for some days, but all in all, blogging seems to go along well with her writing. :-)

I don't see the time I spend blogging, reading blogs and participating in two Writer forums and a Writer chatroom as misspent.

Bernita said...

Gabriele, I certainly don't believe it is misspent.
The internet had its busybodies ready to tell us how we must arrange our time.Unless we fit into some narrow slot, we're not"real", it seems.

Tsavo Leone said...

I think Bernita's last comments hit the nail on the head.

One of my pet bugbears are those who are 'holier than thou' within the internet community. In some cases I feel they are the very people who epitomise the net-nerd image so readily portrayed by the media, lacking in social skills, wit or true wisdom (not that I lay claim to any of those myself either). These are the individuals who feel the need to cast their eye far and wide and criticise those of us who are not as 'wise' or as 'learned' as they: we who are beneath them in all but their contempt...

They trade in all walks of 'life' too, or so it seems. Here in the UK we sometimes call the real-world version of these people by a specific name: Government...

M. G. Tarquini said...

Are you creating, revising, tweaking, meeting a deadline, or sitting staring at the screen with a pencil stuffed up your nose?

Oh, bugger. My husband sent you THAT photo also?

Okay, Bernita, I'm gonna be completely honest here...

I don't really give a shit if you're writing or not. I only give a shit if I'm writing. I figure if y'all are out there blogging and socializing and having lives, then you'll never finish and I can get my query to Miss Snark first and she'll choose ME ME ME over YOU YOU YOU...

Sorry.

Mental note: Don't watch 'The Apprentice' marathons when writer blocked.

Gabriele C. said...

Tsavo,

not only in the UK.

Bernita said...

Tsavo,Gabriele, I feel such people are more in line with the village shrew.
M.G., I knew there was a reason why I liked you.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

tehe...Bernita...I had to fight the urge to go make an anon thingy....tehehe...

I took years of psychology and I can even tell which anon is each of our li'l buddies over at SnarkCentral....tehehe

...And stick it in a dark and private place.....WORD PICTURE!!!!
and better yet...Tsavo....testicular fortitude....ROFLMAO

Bernita said...

Bonnie, you have a wonderful mind.
Half expected an "anon" to show up...

Bunneh said...

This question really, really burns my cookies. And, honestly, I'm seriously starting to resent the moniker "wannabe." It implies a lack of skill, a lack of talent, a lack of dedication, and it grates on my last nerve. I'm not writing right now -- wanna know why? Because I have nine chapters printed out, sitting to my right, and I'm doing a hard copy edit on all of them, because I learned yesterday that soft copy editing is NOT as comprehensive as I'd thought. And the more needless exposition I crossed out, the more frustrated I got with myself, and I had to stop and take a break before I winged my pen and my nine chapters across the room.

Besides, writing isn't... it's not your average nine-to-five gig. Like you, I write while I'm doing other things -- folding laundry, vacuuming, cooking. I don't write only when I'm sitting at the computer. I'm constantly thinking. And usually, after a good long haul of editing, I'm eager and ready to write fresh stuff. Those are the days I pound out 2000 words in a day and go to bed feeling plesantly exhausted. :)

"Why aren't you writing?" Pfeh. "Because I'm revising."

Bernita said...

Dead on, Brunneh! 100%!

Marguerite Arotin said...

Love this :-).
Okay I can write for long hours but sometimes I need a break too and you know what I don't feel the slighest bit guilty about taking one ;-P.
I set goals for myself each day. During NANO my goal was 2,000 words a day. Sometimes I blew that goal away but there were a few days when I didn't get quiet make it and figured that the other days made up for it. Anyway, as long as I complete my daily goals, then I figure that I've earned my right to play. Now that NANO is over, my goals have slowed down a bit, I'm down to 3 pages a day. But 3 pages a day works just fine for me and since I know where I'm going with the story, I know I can complete it in no time at all.
Oh and I'm glad you liked my title. I actaully came up with the plot for The Last Sorceress from the old 80's sci-fi movie, The Last Starfighter so the The Last Sorceress is a take on that. Anyway, keep writing and yes, in my mind, blogging is a form of writign so anon kiss my butt :-P.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Marguerite, for stopping by and commenting.
Absolutely right. Production evens out, and it's the result that matters, not some artificial schedule.
"Rules are made for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men." Can't remember the source of that.

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