Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

A Boost for the Weary Writer

October 11, 2007

I recently came upon two books that jolted me out of the weary complacency I’d fallen into. I write for a living – ghostwriting and corporate writing. All day I am in front of my computer organizing bulks of information, creating an appropriate voice and writing material for other people. My own voice and creative appetites have sunk into near nothingness. I flee from this desk at five o’clock every afternoon and head to the trails of my local park. I pull on my sneakers as though my life depended on it. While running, I get loads of creative ideas, but unless I’m paying bills or checking email, virtually nothing will get me back to that keyboard in the evening.

Even my attempts to write longhand — into a battered notebook while sprawled on my bedroom floor — made no difference. Work writing had eclipsed my impulse to write personally, creatively. It was like a faucet that had been twisted off from below the sink. Maybe I’d go stand by the spigot and fondle the handles, but nothing was going to come out of that spout.

Then I came across Carolyn See’s wonderful book “On Making A literary Life“. In this part memoir part instruction manual, See illuminates the joys and cruelties of a writer’s existence with poignancy and deft humor. She shares her own insecurities, triumphs and failures in ways that reveal my own as being, well…not so bad. Maybe my demons are conquerable too.

In the end, See did a very simple thing – she lifted me from my own misery long enough foe me to recognize it for what it is: material.  A recent break-up, a stressful move, family difficulties…See demonstrates how such things are not tales of woe, but colorful characters and rich veins of plot. And they are. It’s easy to forget what writing is – it’s a reflection of life. Misery and joy, adversity and triumph. It is the expression of the human soul struggling through its existence. It’s the interpretation and representation of human interaction. Life. Suddenly, I don’t have a heavy load of troubles — I have a LOT to write about!

Even the worst of life is funny, because we always persevere. The future may not take the shape we’d intended or thought we would have preferred, but it always takes us somewhere and we’re always learning more about ourselves. See’s book brought me back to the reality of the writing life. Yes, I write for a living. But more than that, I am a writer.