For the past two weeks, I’ve been wrestling with my writing.
So today I’m going to break two rules on my blog I set eight years ago:
a. Don’t get too personal/ vulnerable
b. Don’t use swearwords, keep it PG13.
That’s because I want to share an advice an author I admire, Cheryl Strayed, had (at the time, anonymously) given to a struggling writer who wrote to her, essentially saying, and I quote,
“I want to jump out the window for what I’ve boiled down to is one reason: I can’t write a book.”
I’m pretty near that point these days, and no amount of lame humor is keeping me very far away from it! So, by way of telling myself in a really Loud and Clear way, I want to share the following excerpt: (Please read it if you’re into any sort of artistic endeavor, or in despair about your abilities in any field at all.)
We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor. I know it’s hard to write, darling. But it’s harder not to. The only way you’ll find out if you “have it in you” is to get to work and see if you do. The only way to override your “limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude” is to produce. You have limitations. You are in some ways inept… You will feel insecure and jealous. How much power you give those feelings is entirely up to you.
…Write so blazingly good that you can’t be framed. …People of all professions suffer and kill themselves. In spite of various mythologies regarding artists and how psychologically fragile we are, the fact is that occupation is not a top predictor for suicide. Yes, we can rattle off a list of women writers who’ve killed themselves and yes, we may conjecture that their status as women in the societies in which they lived contributed to the depressive and desperate state that caused them to do so. But it isn’t the unifying theme.
You know what is?
The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you –,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.” Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.
I want to know what you have inside you. I want to see the contours of your second beating heart.
So write…. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.
I think that’s excellent advice.
Instead of worrying about the darkness of the coal mine, the dust, my lungs, the walls about to cave in and the flash floods, I’m just fixing my flashlight and my helmet and hitting out with that shovel, or whatever it is coal miners use these days.
So dear writers, do you write like a mother****er?
And all those who read but do not write, when you read a book, do you ever wonder about the process a writer went through?
Any words of advice for a writer in crisis?
If you have an opinion but don’t blog, please join the discussion on the Damyanti at Daily (w)rite Facebook Page!