The Writers Must Be Crazy

I stare at the blank page. Agonizing minutes tick by–still nothing. I glare at the blank page. It glares back, taunting me to dare try and fill it with my words.  I try. My brain scrambles to make some connections.  I have all the thoughts necessary, swirling about in my mind, but I can’t put them together in the exact way I want, so I give up. It’s maddening.

Suddenly, I’m compelled to jot down a sentence that seems to have materialized out of thin air. Almost like I’m waiting for the channel on the radio to cut through all the static. A huge release, it flows out in a burst. I read the sentence. I love it, it’s perfect! I reread the sentence. I hate it, it’s horrible.  I cut half of it out, slashing through it with my pen like a knife. I can’t possibly show anyone this sentence–these words that sprang from my mind. Exposing my view of the world. What if they don’t like it? What if they ridicule it? Will I ever know truly what others will think of me? Do I dare publish or not? Eventually, I decide that I have to do it, no matter the consequences. I take the plunge off the cliff and scream all the way down. Other times, I blindly, happily jump off the cliff. Who cares what others think? In the end, it’s me I’m afraid of–my own worst critic.

What is it about writing that is so torturous? They’re only words, right?  Yet they have the power to connect, to empower, to inspire. But we hold onto them so tightly, like we’re giving up our newborn child. We pray to God that others will cradle our baby and show it some appreciation and love. Isn’t that all we want?

Do other artists feel this way? I’m sure they do. Do painters paint about how they struggle with painting? Does a musician play music that illustrates how hard it is to come up with a melody? Writers are a unique breed. We write about writing. We write about how we can’t write. When I read my writing, it’s never good enough, I could edit until the end of the world.  Sure, someone might come along and tell you they like it. But then you have to write again, starting all over. There’s always the possibility you won’t be able to, and that is scary.

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. Mostly in private. I wrote about a young girl detective agency and the mysteries they’d solve. Once I took a chance and read my stories to my best friend. She loved it and wanted more. That was it for me. I was hooked. I’ve written short stories and personal journals ever since. I started blogging with only one thought in mind. I wanted to get the thoughts out. I have been an observer most of my life. Very quiet and introspective. Naturally, I have feelings about certain subjects and life. I can’t afford a therapist so I realized blogging might help quiet the voices.  Now I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love to make that instant connection with others. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling than the high of knowing I’ve made someone laugh with my words. Before, I didn’t know others out there had my same sense of how absurd things tend to be in this world. It gives me a thrill beyond words (it’s nice to be speechless for once!)

Like you, my blog is my baby. Like you, I want it to be treated with respect and support. It’s my place where I bravely put my thoughts out there, either to be scrutinized or enjoyed.  I have to be willing to welcome both. That is terrifying at times. But I value these connections because without them, why write in the first place? I have a feeling you know exactly what I mean with this post. You are a writer. I am a writer. And I am honored to be blogging and connecting with other writers who know exactly how I feel.

Isn’t that the main goal in the first place?

______________________________________________________________________

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.  ~E.L. Doctorow

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing
guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity
is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

I try to leave out the parts that people skip.  ~Elmore Leonard

I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.  ~James
Michener

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being
there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.  ~Vladimir
Nabakov

Easy reading is damn hard writing.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some
place, in the air.  All I must do is find it, and copy it.  ~Jules Renard

Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until
drops of blood form on your forehead.  ~Gene Fowler

When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its
writing.  ~Enrique Jardiel Poncela

Writing is a struggle against silence.  ~Carlos Fuentes

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside
you.  And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.  ~Arthur
Polotnik

Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.  ~Franz
Kafka

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its
roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to
die if you were forbidden to write.  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Writing is hard, but sometimes, it’s not. ~Darla, She’s a Maineiac

(This post was inspired by two of my favorite bloggers, Lenore of Lenore Diane’s Thoughts Exactly and Priya of Partial View and their posts: Lenore’s Read my words: I am a writer and Priya’s Musings of an ordinary blog writer. Thanks for the inspiration and thank you to all of my fellow bloggers out there.)

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81 thoughts on “The Writers Must Be Crazy

  1. Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)

    We are indeed all crazy, but at least we are crazy together. Wonderful post. I’m glad to be part of your blogging community.

  2. Mwah! Is it OK to kiss you in public like that? I’m not even a kisser. I’m a hugger. Consider yourself hugged. I loved this, Darla. Loved it. Embrace the writer in you, because you are a writer.
    And this … “I have all the thoughts necessary, swirling about in my mind, but I can’t put them together in the exact way I want, so I give up. It’s maddening.” Truth. Absolute maddening truth. Along with the “I love it!” “I hate it!”. And the quotes? Goodness gracious, Darla – each and every one is spot on.
    Yep, you’ve said it all – and you’ve written it all so well.

    1. Oh, I love a good hug! Thank you. After reading your post, I realized I never really thought of myself as a writer. I’m not sure why. I write nearly every week. Guess I’d better just admit it, huh.

      It’s funny, my in-laws tell me how funny they find my blog and that they really enjoy it. When they told me this, I was slightly embarassed. I guess I’m slowly coming to realize I am a “blogger”. I used to make fun of blogging about a year ago. Interesting how things change!

  3. “Writers are a unique breed. We write about writing.” And, we write because we care; you write because you care. I loved your quotes. I have found such truth in Carlos Fuentes, Maria Rainer Rilke and yes, even James Michener, the writer of some very boring tomes…but so thorough. I loved every quote. Ha-ha, I would agree that Michener probably was a great re-writer. I confess, sometimes my dashboard reveals over 20 rewrites just for a simple post, and I wonder why does every rewrite have to be documented and take up server space in cyberland?

    1. Exactly, we write because we care. That is the truth, Georgette. And I am very thankful I can share that with you by reading your words at your blog as well.

      I have to admit, I have never read a James Michener book before, I just liked his quote. I know what you mean about seeing your 20 rewrites in your dashboard. Too bad I couldn’t permanently delete the reminder that I have to rewrite so much!

  4. I second Lisa. It’s a joy to be crazy together!

    There’s always the possibility you won’t be able to, and that is scary.
    I face that every week or so. I’ll write something and go, “I’ll never be able to write something this good again.”

    I updated my “best of” page over the weekend. This had me in stitches, looking at all the old posts I never thought I’d be able to match, let alone exceed. That’s the thing about keeping at it: all that effort leads to “better.” Not “perfect,” because that’s not attainable by humans . . . but better, and sometimes in leaps and bounds. 🙂

    Love this. Love you!

    1. Better is the most we can hope for, isn’t it, Deb? I have it easy because my first post, What’s a Widget? was probably the lamest thing any human being has ever written in the history of the world. So everything after that was better.

      I loved that you wrote, “sometimes in leaps and bounds” that is so true and so exhilarating when that happens. Sometimes it’s with the tiniest of baby steps. As long as we keep on, keepin’ on, it’s all good.

  5. Oh the torture! Shows how important writing is to you. And you do it so very well. I guess I’m not so much of a writer, because once I have conveyed my thoughts to where they say what I’m trying to get out, I am satisfied… for the most part. Ok, I guess writing is never perfect. Crap! Now you’ve got me thinking like a writer.

  6. So true -every syllable! I love the quotes.

    I have not yet been able to apply that title to myself. Writer.
    I blog, I doodle, I goof around with words. But it seems to me that “writer” is a title that must be bestowed by some outside, objective, as-yet-undefined oracle.

    1. On a totally unrelated topic..

      I just checked out The Good Greatsby’s caption contest and we’re both in the finals again. And we’re tied for DEAD LAST! What the…??

      1. Peg, when I saw that not only are you and I in the finals again, but he strategically placed our entries right next to each other, I could only think one thing:
        Mr. Greatsby is the Ultimate Puppetmaster–he’s pitting us against each other for his own twisted amusement. I can almost hear his evil laugh now. He thinks we’ll start up our obnoxious witty banter again. Then he can sit back and watch us destroy each other so we’ll never submit another caption. Well, I am not falling for it. (so far) I will be proud of being dead last, dammit!

        Besides, not only is my entry the longest one up there, it’s the lamest one up there. Who in their right mind would vote for it? (other than Mr. Skittles)

      2. Hmm…yes, I agree. The other captions are much more hilarious than mine, no question. But I smell something too. And it’s not Mr. Skittles (he blew town after my FP stardom faded and my stats plummeted) A frozen Totino’s pizza perhaps?

      3. Um…hello? (tapping microphone) Is this thing on? (ahem)
        No one wants to vote for mine? (crickets chirping)
        Seriously, is my caption THAT bad?! (crickets are suddenly silent)

        (in my best Steve Martin voice):

        Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuse ME!
        I just may go over there and vote for both of you until you are tied.

      4. Oh, hi Darla. I forgot this was your house! Ha ha! Let me just take my feet off your priceless antique sofa, clean up this little mess in the living room and I’ll be on my way. By the way, you’re out of Ho-Hos and Diet Coke.

      5. Oh, that’s okay. You’re both welcome to drop over uninvited and unannounced anytime (works for my in-laws) I love a good post hijack.

        But those Ho-Hos were all I had to eat. Oh! and I see you’ve eaten all of Mr. Skittles’ Skittles. Fabulous. And I see you made a three hour phone call to China. Interesting.

        You know what really burns me up? What really gets my panties in a bunch? That every time I want to reply to you guys, I have to scroll up a million miles. It’s very confusing.

      6. Oh, well, pardon me…I guess I forgot my manners. Really, there are no more HoHo’s? Will you look at the time!! Let me just find my shoes. Have you seen my shoes? Oh, thank you for setting them outside, I guess they did smell a little like monkey droppings. I mean, well, never mind. Oh, your phone battery is dead, as well.

        I forgot, in all this foolishness, to tell you how much I love today’s post. I really do admire your writing. I have subscribed to your post but for some reason WordPress does not see fit to put it on my list of blogs I am following and I have to find your blog all on my own. All on my OWN.

        Thanks for the open invitation, I’ll probably pop back in later to see the latest attacks on my reputation…

      7. Hmm…I don’t know, k8edid.. You SAY you’ve subscribed, but WordPress has dropped the ball. Could be, could be. Seems their website is having problems lately. After all, they did hire Mr. Skittles to choose the Freshly Pressed now that they are on indefinite vacation (see Peg’s recent blog post posted today) And I suppose that, yes, it is rather exhausting to find my blog all on your own. Okay, okay. I believe you.

        And I knew Mr. Skittles was at your place! Damn that monkey! I will never forgive him! (give him a big hug for me, okay? sniff sniff)

      8. OMG, that was MR. SKITTLES? I thought my husband had shrunk!!! Bleh. I kissed him on the mouth! Phew, spit, hack…..Argh. He finished off my Pringles and was last seen headed north with a tiny backpack, a Mapquest printout for a Maine address, and a book by some dude named Paul Johnson “One Caption at a Time: Pitting People Against Each Other for World Domination.”

      9. Bwah ha haaaaaa!!! Oh, I’m laughing so hard, I’m crying in my coffee, k8edid. You deserve to win.

        That Mr. Skittles…(shaking head) such a cheeky monkey. Well, if he manages to hitchhike back to my place, I’m not letting him in. It’s over. (Unless he can help me unlock the secret to writing a better caption than the Caption King, Mr. Greatsby himself)

    2. Peg, if you’re not a writer, than none of us are. (Wait, is that sound logic?) Let me try this again…Peg, you are a WRITER! And a hilarious, clever, original one at that (I know I’m not objective but trust me, it’s true)

    1. I certainly hope the banging helps you get those creative juices flowing, envisioningutopia. I can totally relate to that description. Sometimes, I’ve got nothing and I know it’s time to take a break.

  7. I think you conveyed everything that I was always thinking but could never really put into words. Thank you for sharing. I have always said that I have the creative brain and I have been all over the place with arts. But a few years ago I really started focusing on writing and enjoying it. However when I shared some of my writing, that was when I really started criticizing myself, feeling like I wasn’t skilled enough in grammer and English, and I was letting these feelings hold me back. Ever since I started my blog and writing more often, I really feel like this is where God wants me to be right now. And you do feel like everything you write is you baby. It is hard to except criticisms but hopefully we will get lots of good comments too 🙂

    1. Fraha, I think you just put it into words perfectly. I’ve always been more on the creative side of things growing up. I love to sing, play piano, write music. I’ve tried to paint (not very good at it, but I enjoyed it) Writing it the one thing I am obsessed with and I am always trying to better myself. There are plenty of roadblocks for me as well, spelling is a big one. Which is why I constantly go to dictionary.com. But I love knowing I’m learning all the time…keeps my mind going, which is good at my age. I love your quote, “Dream the dream, believe the dream and live the dream” Beautiful!

  8. John Erickson

    I love the Michener quote – I’ve done that for years for others!
    Artists might not paint about painting, but they do obsess – my wife does pencil sketches, and (strangely enough) turns to me for constant feedback. (Strange, because I lack depth perception, yet can pick out the “problem” areas – if there are any.) So you’re not unusual to obsess for perfection.
    Though I think I’d like to see that painting of an artist agonising over a painting. Wasn’t that the self-portrait of Norman Rockwell? 😉

    1. Funny your wife asks your opinion. My husband is an artist as well (he does mainly pencil sketches too!) He is incredibly talented and I’m not just saying that because I’m legally obligated to do so.
      I would love to see that self-portrait of Norman Rockwell! ha!! I suppose MC Escher came close to doing that a few times.

  9. Mary the OINKteller

    You read my mind today! Sometimes writing is so hard I feel I never want to type another sentence. But then sometimes, the words rush out of me and I feel elated. I went to see/hear the author David Sedaris last night. He was witty, sardonic and incredibly inspiring. He said: Just write. Every day. Eventually, you’ll get better. So that’s what I’m going to do. Writers write because they’re compelled to and I’m honored to be in your company. Great post!

    1. Yes, Mary! I go from hating to write and giving up to writing in a big flow nonstop and loving every second of it. Drives me batty sometimes, this up and down love-hate thing. I wish to God I could write every day. I barely have time to read comments and respond to them lately. I do try to write once a week at least. Maybe because I’m afraid of “losing” my ability? I don’t know. I am honored to be in your company as well, Mary.

  10. Thank YOU, Darla! I loved those quotes, and I loved being able to see myself in your struggles. Yes, how quickly the perfect sentence becomes a pile of… (dot dot dot, LOL). Your posts are so well done, though – your last one truly was riveting (yes, I’m using that word again!)! I always struggle with how to tell enough while leaving some mystery so the drama can build. You clearly don’t have that problem! 🙂

    1. I knew you would relate to this, Julie. 😀 I think we all struggle with writing from time to time. I promised myself I wouldn’t write about writing ever again, but I had to do it, to get it all out. I just find the blogging community so interesting and am grateful I’m a part of it and that I have met wonderful creative people, like you!

  11. Hi Darla,
    I’m also glad I came. I found you via a pingback at Priya’s post – “Musings of an ordinary blog writer”.

    Love the quotes. My favorite one is:
    Easy reading is damn hard writing. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

    1. Thank you, dearrosie and welcome. I’ve seen you around Priya’s blog as well. That quote is one of my favorites too, illustrates the point perfectly. I often struggle with cutting down on my words. I tend to rewrite too much. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  12. Good post! Thanks for sharing this perspective as a lot of us here can obviously relate!

    I liked reading the quotes. I hadn’t read any of them before. But another quote that I absolutely love but can never remember is something like, “Writing comes easy for everyone but writers.” Okay, that’s not it. But you get the jist. 🙂

  13. I loved this post. It’s so true, so heartfelt and so beautifully written. I can definitely relate, but I doubt I could have written about it so wonderfully! Thanks for sharing; I’m really looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    1. LittleMissVix, that’s how I feel–it’s not for the faint hearted. I’ve developed more of a thick skin over the year I’ve been blogging. I have to be willing to expect any kind of response and deal with my own criticism. (It doesn’t help that I’m a Virgo and have a bit of OCD) But in the end, it is something I have to do: Write.

  14. Priya

    Darla, you have a sensitive and coherent style, and that’s what makes it such a delight to read what you write. I am happy for myself that you decided to switch over from private notebooks to a blog. It is always wholesome to know what, and how, you’re thinking.

    P.S. Don’t just keep those stories to yourself and your friend!

    1. Thank you, Priya. Your comments always make my day. I am so impressed with your writing ability so I appreciate that you enjoy my writing. I am so thankful to have met you through this blogging community!

  15. Hi Darla, What a great topic to write about — how we write! Your post was honest and witty and totally relatable. And your quotes were perfectly chosen. Whenever I need some inspiration, I’ll come back here and read your words. There is a reason why we must write, even if we don’t know it at the time!

    I loved this line, “But we hold onto them so tightly.” (Speaking of our words, of coure.) You are so right. It’s scary to jot things down so permanently. But I am so glad you did, and I look forward to reading more.

    1. It can be a little daunting to write things and send them out in to cyberspace–not knowing how they will be received. It’s exciting and scary. I am very grateful I’ve found a great group of bloggers, like you, to share my thoughts with and make meaningful connections.

  16. One of the most honest post i ever read…. I never thought that all writers feel the same! And also i never thought someone can bring those thought on paper like you did in this post of yours. For me best line in this post is “it’s nice not to be speechless for once!” A simple sentence yet it says all. I hope you will never be speechless & will keep on writing. Thanks for such a wonderful post!!

    1. Arindam, your comment really made me smile. This is why I love writing, the power of words is such a great thing. And it’s comforting to know all writers feel the same. Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you keep writing, too.

  17. Pingback: Vote Early – Vote Often | k8edid

    1. Thanks, LadiLuu. I just read about your writer’s block on your blog, and it conveyed the same feelings I have when I struggle to get those words out. But, like you said, it’s a huge creative outlet for me. I have to keep trying and just let it flow, let it go. Keep it up!

  18. Here’s what I think writing is. We get this idea in our head. It’s perfect, and we want to share it with someone else, to have them experience the perfection with us. We translate it into words, then we revise and revise and revise until we’ve re-created about ninety percent of the original idea. But with each change, the improvements grow smaller and smaller, and we eventually realize we’re never going to get there. We publish. Someone reads it and understands what we’re saying, and maybe even praises it with great enthusiasm. They can’t get over how we managed to put such thoughts into words. And we try to listen to their affirmation, and to absorb some of that positive response, but it’s pretty much drowned out by our own self-torment — because we’re completely focused on that missing ten percent. We decide to give up, then we decide we’re going to do better next time. We bounce back and forth between those two decisions, four or maybe five hundred times a day. Meanwhile, we get another idea in our head. It’s perfect, and we want to share it with someone else.

    Darla, I think every writer goes through what you’ve described in this post. Yes, it’s terrifying, but the next time you jump off that cliff, look around and notice how many people have willingly made the jump with you. The best friend you read your detective stories to has become an audience. I only wish you could experience that ninety percent feeling we all get every time we read your work.

    1. Reading your explanation of the writer’s dilemma, I feel like I’m getting very close to 100% with your words. You’re right–that damn 10% keeps taunting me! Maybe I should try letting that idea of perfection go? Or would that make me feel like I’m not critiquing my writing enough? Maybe it’s that feeling of not getting it exactly right that spurs me on to write more and more. It never seems enough though. Truly drives me batty at times. I suppose mere acceptance of this battle is key to letting it go and moving forward.

      Well, I can say (but probably not effectively enough!) that I am incredibly grateful to have met writers and readers like you that continue to inspire and support me. You’ve given me the confidence and courage I need to jump off that cliff over and over again. Thank you, Charles.

  19. What frustrates me the most is that it’s never finished. You can always change a line, a word, or a comma. If you hobby is fixing cars, the car either runs or it doesn’t. Writing never seems to have a satisfying end point of accomplishment.

    1. Paul, you’ve basically just summed up my entire post with a few lines. You’ve nailed the problem and my ongoing frustration. This alone makes you a very effective writer. It’s true–it’s almost like we’re trying to sell ideas and thoughts…our unique take on the world–not a physical, tangible thing where there’s an obvious end or product. I always have that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I didn’t get my thoughts across exactly in the way I wanted. How will I ever know for sure?

  20. I’m not a childhood writer I think I was more of a childhood talker who wrote down what I wanted to say. i don’t ever feel as if I’m consciously writing to make specific point or idea even when that’s what I’m suppose to do for class.
    i started blogging as part of a class assignment and while I’m still not sure if I’m really enjoying the process, it has allowed me to talk online. I’m hoping that as I talk I’ll be able to work through some things for myself, like how is it that other’s can blog and post effortlessly and I’m always left wondering if I’ve said the right thing or if there was even a right thing to say?
    As I said I’m not a writer I’m a talker and I hope on occasion as I share something of value or at the very least I’m entertaining!

    1. I still feel the same things as you–did I get my point across the way I intended? Did I say too much or not enough? I’ve been blogging for a little over a year and I’m still insecure how my readers will react or if they’ll like it or not. Writing is a form of talking for me and discovering my “voice”. There is nothing like making that real connection with someone. I hope you continue blogging and “talking” to your readers. Thanks for reading and your comments.

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