Monday, July 16, 2007


As I continue with The Courage to Write and struggle with some writing group issues, and as I read Marianne's blog today, writing is very much on my mind.

Not my writing, per se, although thanks to some encouragement from my friend Charity, I'm finally finishing revisions on a long dormant YA.

However, I really am thinking more about the process of writing. What it means to write. To critique. To support others in their acts of writing.

What writing means. Why do we write?

Okay, so these are the same topics that most writers grapple with.

So, why, suddenly, did I want to really get back to writing? Why did my excuses run out?

And even without writing, I was having a perfectly lovely summer. I love to cook, and I was doing a lot of that. I love to teach, and I was doing a lot of preparation for the fall. I love my family, and I was doing a lot for them.

But you know, you cook a meal, you eat it. People might praise your cooking. You make people happy. That's good. But it's gone, over, finis. That's it. Reliving the meal isn't going to bring you (or anyone else) the remotest bit of pleasure. You can cook the same thing again. People will enjoy it. But they'll consume the calories, many or few, and then it's over.

You can, however, read beloved stories over and over. The revisiting can be lovely. You'll get new things each time. I could read Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice every year and see new points. And learn new things. And grow from entering these favorite worlds again.

And writing, we're all pirates. We're all searching for treasure which we'll find by trying different angles. And we can live in fantastical worlds and have the most fascinating people (or creatures) for company. And if we don't like where we are, we can change it with a tap on the keyboard. We can leave fat bodies and become acrobats; leave skinny bodies and grow voluptuous curves, leave troubles and become adventurers, leave safe lives and fall into unimaginable dangers.

We can get inside your head.

How much more pirate is that?

So I realized that I've blocked this wanting, this longing that I've had by burying myself in the mundane. And yes, Charity was sooooo right to nudge me towards The Courage to Write. Because it's so much easier to bake a quiche than to be a pirate.

But it's a lot less fun.


Jenn in Holland said...

Well said Jen!
I think though that is the one thing that scares me most about writing: That it is there FOREVER. I don't know how I feel about that. A performance is enjoyed but forgotten, or made better in the memory of it. A meal is enjoyed the same way. A book though? A book is ALWAYS there with EVERYTHING you put in it. Emotions and mistakes and EVERYTHING... Wow, that's big.
This is a lot to think about and I wish you luck as you push forward in your goals.

By the by, I gave you a small something today. Come on over and see what it is.

Yvonne said...

I loved this post. Get to your writing, Girl!

Fourier Analyst said...

I've always loved to write stream of consciousness style. It's the editing and self-censoring that kills writing for me. What I'm enjoying about blogging is that it is so real-time and the feedback you get from it is also real-time. So raise the skull-and-crossbones, avast there matey, and away with ya'! Good luck and "a strong wind at your back".

jennifer said...

Hi Jen-
So glad you stopped by my blog, and that I have now found yours. I wonder about the J factor in the blog world... I regularly visit one Jennifer, one Jenn, and now you, Jen, and I, of course, am Jennifer. I think it's a good omen.
I really like the pirate metaphor, searching for treasure. Painting is very mych the same sensation. You just keep working, swirling around, pounding away, until you suddenly come upon treasure.
Keep writing.

anno said...

Ahoy matey! Welcome aboard!

anno said...

Uh, I'm not too up on the pirate vernacular, so if I just said something really stupid, just tell me later--thanks!

Charity Tahmaseb said...

I'm glad you're getting something from the book. I always hesistate to recommend something, but this one helped me so much.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jen said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by!

Jenn, I agree with you about the FOREVER factor. And yes, that's part of the scary part. I had a discussion yesterday with my brother-in-law, who's a professor of English at Notre Dame about what happens to writing when it becomes part of the public discourse... and yes, again, I think the fear is there. But I'm excited to be trying my hand again. And THANK YOU for the "little something" - it was a big something to me! ;-)

Thanks for the support, Yvonne!

And yes, Fourier - I SO agree that it's the second and third and fourth... stages that kill me. The original creation is the fun part.

Yes, Jennifer, I've noticed there are an awful lot of us J's around, too! I think I may have to become Jen in MI or something... Do you sometimes post pictures of your paintings? I'd love to see them

Hey Anno! I think Ahoy Matey is just fine!

And Charity, thanks again for pointing me to that book.