IWSG: My love-hate relationship with writing

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThe January question for the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop is:

What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?

I’ve always written, and I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with writing. I hated writing assignments in school. Hated. Them. I’d whine and complain and fuss and struggle and whine and complain some more. Then I’d suck it up, write the stupid paper, and get an A on it.

At the same time that I was being a huge whiny baby about writing assignments, I was journaling. I started a diary when I was about 10, which expanded into a journal by the time I was in middle school. My journals then were either spiral notebooks or stacks of binder paper held together with ancient report binders I inherited from my grandmother. Yes, I inherited office supplies from my grandmother. I still have a few of ‘em too. Did I mention my grandmother died in 1979? Anyone wanna buy a vintage porcelain stamp licker?

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But I digress.

So I’d sit in my room writing, copying down song lyrics, or jotting down the weekly top 40 from Casey Kasem for posterity. Yes, the entire top 40. All 4 hours of it, just about every Saturday morning. I was a nerd with no life, OK?

But I digress.

In my journal I collected ideas and pop culture and random written crap the way a magpie collects shiny things. And I wrote. Sometimes pages at a time. Sometimes I felt compelled to write. Sometimes I still do. But if someone told me I had to write a particular kind of paper about a particular kind of thing, well, that was an epic tragedy that required large amounts of whining.

After I became a librarian, I started writing academic pieces for publication: book reviews, journal articles, and book chapters. The whining continued, usually some version of the famous Frank Norris quote:

Don’t like to write, but like having written.

2+ decades on, that’s still an accurate summary of my feelings unless I’m journaling or doing some other kind of low-effort writing.

So why, then do I write anything more challenging than a summary of my day? I suppose the answer is the writer’s version of the bit about the mountain-climber climbing mountains because they’re there: I write because I have something to say.

But there’s another part to my writing journey, the part that started a bit over 5 years ago, when I started writing fiction at the ripe old age of 47. I told some of that story in an earlier post, Talent is Overrated, so I won’t repeat it here, but the gist of that post is that though I’d dreamed of being an author since I was a kid, I never tried, because I thought I had no talent.

The process of overcoming that negative bit of self-image was gradual, and I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I do remember three key incidents:

  1. A former intern and friend gave me a copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, with a lovely inscription encouraging me to take up creative writing.
  2. I read Diana Gabaldon’s account in the Outlandish Companion of how she came to write Outlander. Tl;dr: she decided to learn to write a novel by actually writing one. That got me to thinking that maybe the same method could work for me, even if I had less spectacular results than she did.
  3. I realized that ~2/3 of my life was over (probably, if one believes the actuarial tables), so if I had any unfulfilled dreams, I’d best get busy. There’s nothing like an awareness of one’s mortality to give one a solid kick in the keister.

So one afternoon, I Googled “how to write a novel,” found the website for the snowflake method, and got started.

I still have a love-hate relationship with writing. I still prefer to have written. And I still whine and carry on when I have to put my butt in my office chair and type some damn words already. I do not, however, copy down the top 40 every week, because today’s music sucks. Now get off my lawn.

But I digress.

 

Want to see some other great IWSG posts? Check out the list of participants here. (Powered by Linky Tools).

18 thoughts on “IWSG: My love-hate relationship with writing

    1. A radio station in Portland (I think it was Portland) used to play old Casey Kasem shows on Sunday mornings. It was quite the time warp, listening to a top 40 broadcast from 1982 in the mid-oughts.

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  1. Wow, Casey Kasem – that’s a blast from the past! I remember we used to listen to his Top 40 on the radio here in Australia during the late 70s! I can also relate to your third point, which is one of the reasons why I decided to self/indie-publish. I’m not getting any younger! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate to both the love-hate relationship with writing and trying to get over low-confidence. The two are definitely linked for me; I’m always reluctant to start because I’m afraid I’m going to write a load of rubbish. I’m glad you listened to your lovely friend’s suggestion and took up writing. Good luck for the future of your writing journey.

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    1. Sorry for the late response. For some weird reason, your comment got caught in WordPress’s spam filters. I can so relate to your comment. That’s a lot of why I’m reluctant to start writing each day. I’m often convinced I’m going to write utter garbage or, if I’m revising, that I won’t be able to solve the problem I’m trying to fix. It’s absurd, but I keep thinking like this.

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  3. Still smiling after reading your very entertaining post. My name is Janet too, so of course, I was curious to see what that “other” Janet was like. AND I like her! (you) Good to meet you. I like writing, it’s the re-writing that gets me. Bird by Bird was the one book that encouraged me to keep on writing when I had all but given up. Now stop whining and get to work!!
    JQ Rose

    Liked by 1 person

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