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  • [Making the Leap] To Bleed On Paper or Not To Bleed? That is The Question.
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[Making the Leap] To Bleed On Paper or Not To Bleed? That is The Question.
Contributor
Written by
Julie Luek
August 2017
Contributor
Written by
Julie Luek
August 2017

I have a confession. I love to scroll through Pinterest during my evening television time. And because I try to justify this little time-waster as platform building, I have a board titled Writing. I usually pin writing quotes, pithy inspirations, or beautiful writing settings. But lately, I haven’t been pinning much of anything on that board. In fact, lately, I’ve been avoiding any writing-related pins at all.

When you’re in a writing slump, sometimes the last thing you want to read are a bunch of quotes spouting off their version of writing wisdom. Yeah, it’s probably my own voice of doubt convicting me about my terrible writing habits lately, but sometimes all those quotes just makes me cringe.

Walk with me through a few of the pins I’ve been avoiding lately:

 

Granted Ms. Plath led an emotionally tumultuous life, but every time I read a quote like this I have to fight the tendency to roll my eyes. There are multiple variations of this idea out there—about staying drunk on writing or writers who feel ready to explode if they don’t vent their stories.

Frankly, I’m not one of those people. But wait, does this mean I’m not a true writer?

Honestly, I worry about that sometimes. The more I avoid writing without suffering from stifled emotions, the more I wonder if I'm not like real writers who must write or suffer dire psychological consequences. 

Here’s another quote I see in multiple variations:

 

I get where this one is going. Writing isn’t always dependent on whether we feel like it or not. It’s a discipline. If you want to be a writer, you must sit down and write. Treat it like an assignment. Perhaps this one is cringe-worthy because it’s the voice of conviction I hear whispering in my head all too often.

This quote by Ray Bradbury states it a bit more gently but equally succinctly:

 

Sometimes the quotes I run across just make me feel like a scolded child. 

Oh. Is that all?

Or this encouraging little ditty by George Orwell:

 

But must we be so dramatic, Mr. Orwell?

I get that some people “bleed on paper” (another great quote) but I’m not one of those people. If writing were this angst-filled for me, I’d walk away. Far away. Into a field of flowers where words don’t exist.

Maybe I’m just feeling fussy with all these quotes because lately life is huffing and puffing at my door and threatening to blow it completely off its hinges. I haven’t had any inclination to put words to paper at all.

With all the talk about platform building, the landscape of publishing changing, and the almost impossible odds of actually making a living from selling books, I feel like I’ve been running on a treadmill for the last several years--not all that dissimilar from the world of work I jumped off of three years ago. Let's face it, writing to publish is business.

So where does all this leave me in my Making the Leap journey? Quite honestly, it leaves me on the side of the path, watching all the writers hurrying by with their online book tours, Facebook release parties, and cover promos, wondering what my next move in life is going to be. Will I keep writing with goals of publishing? Do I even want to try to write a book anymore?

The question I really ponder,the one I desperately hope to make peace with, is this: can writing once again be an expression of emotions, thoughts, joy, and art for me

Then today, I saw this quote. You’ve probably read it before, but it hit me right where I’m at:

Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut. Can I find my way back to this joy in writing? Because it makes my soul grow...because it feels like singing in the shower or dancing to music only I can hear? I hope so. The reward is enormous. 

 

 

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Comments
  • Kay Rae Chomic

    Great post! I'm reading Kurt Vonnegut's, A Man Without A Country, right now, and I came across the quote you've highlighted. He's brilliant!

  • Alissa Johnson Writing

    This is lovely and so relateable!

  • Jessica Hatfield

    The last quote, in context, made me cry. How simple, for art's sake.

  • Julie Luek

    Mike, thanks. :) I love how you are using your pain to comfort others. What a gift!

  • Julie Luek

    Suzanne, I'm so glad I inspired both of us with that quote. Yes, just write. Something. Create. It's just good for the soul and as so many others have said, trust that the writing will come again. Thank you for sharing. 

    Joanne, you hit on something my head and heart know and I need to remember: write every day. I think the quotes I used about it being more than a "mood" are so true! Thank you!

  • mlswift

    Beatriz—first of all, my condolences on the passing of your mother. It's a void that will never be filled. I know that doesn't sound promising or encouraging, but it's a painful truth. Yet, in that truth lies a tome of stories concerning love, heartache, elation, and every scenario one could imagine. Since I moved back east fifteen years ago, I was a caregiver for my mother in some capacity, whether it was a broken hip, legs (osteoporosis), diabetes, or in the end, Alzheimer's. I experienced a great deal of happiness and funny moments during those years, intermingled with the painful process of watching my mother's health decline. The last year of her life was difficult, and it has taken over a year since her passing to start feeling normal again...to write...to create...to turn, seed, and water the fallow ground. But of course, that which does not kill us makes us stronger. There is and will be renewed strength to come from these weakened days, just remember to be kind to yourself, take it at your own speed, and abide with the Divine to carry you through. Peace. :)

  • I know what you mean about the business of writing and the treadmill...it's tiresome and takes the joy out of writing...not to mention all the time it steals from actual writing...but it must be done, mustn't it...I try to schedule writing time every day (mostly to remind myself to prioritize it) but I don't write every day if I'm being honest (not creatively anyway...as I write for my bread and butter, I have to make that distinction). Sometimes you just have to let it be and live for a while...but (though through some droughts I dread that it's gone for good) I like knowing that it's there, or I'd have to learn a whole new way to process life.

  • Seeing this pose was an invaluable for me week. Although I have published a book that is doing moderately well, my ambition to finish my second book has been waning. Lately, everyday I question whether I have it in me to carry on. The idea of doing something simple, like writing a poem, as suggested in Vonnegut's quote, seems so simple and yet, I can already feel the pride in doing it. Many thanks for your inspirational message Julie!

  • Julie Luek

    Olga, I want to give you a cheer!  I love that you have found that passion!

  • Julie Luek

    Mel, I just read a really good post by Anne R. Allen about writing and blogging. And you're right, it's not that cut and dry at all. None of the rules are! Good to see you, by the way. :)

  • Julie Luek

    Mardith-- feel free to connect with me on Facebook or you can email me at my email, [email protected] 

  • Olga Godim

    Mardith, you're lucky. I can't name one thing I could do better (or more willingly) than writing.

  • M. Kinnel

    Wow, Julie, this article really hits home for me. When writing is the last thing on my mind, I come across some of those same quotes and advice that you mentioned and feel like I'm not "really" not a writer because my whole life isn't devoted to it. Oh and when I'm not posting to my blog (which seems to be far and few between these days) but I see others doing it three and four times a week, I wonder what my deal is. 

    It's nice to know there are other writers out there that feel the same way. Do you have to blog EVERY day to be considered a writer? Do you have to write every day to be considered a writer? It isn't that cut and dry.

  • Mardith Louisell

    Julie, is there a way to comment just to you?

  • Julie Luek

    Mardith-- you made me chuckle. Yes, I have heard that too- it's like breathing-- what else can I do? Like you, I think, "Ummm.. let me count the things." But truthfully, I kind of envy those kinds of writers-- and I believe they are authentic. I wish I had more of that internal drive and passion. 

  • Mardith Louisell

    Julie, Have the same thoughts. I love the rolling your eyes part. So so true. Who can take all this angst and being driven to write, yes, DRIVEN, so seriously? Even though I  myself have often succumbed.  And then there are the people who say, "What else would I do?" God, there are so many things. I could name 10 in less than 10 seconds.

  • Julie Luek

    Nina, oh we're a fickle bunch aren't we? When I worked full-time, I longed for that very image of writing you mention. When I decided to make a leap into writing full-time, I wondered what possessed me to think I had that much to write about. It's all good and as several people have mentioned, there are seasons in life. I'm very grateful for this one and now am on the cusp of a new one. 

  • Nina Gaby

    Thanks. I'm busy feeling sorry for myself because my day job is so demanding and even when I feel like I could get drunk on writing I have to stay sober for the real world. That leads to feeling like everyone else gets to sit around and party with their laptops or journals while I carry on miserably. The only one carrying on miserably. The kind of miserably that likes company. So yeah, thanks. OH, and it will get better. "It only seems impossible until it's done," Nelson Mandela.

  • Julie Luek

    Olga, you reminded me of a writing friend who has said something similar. Sometimes all he puts down is one well constructed paragraph that moves him ahead in his story. He considers that a good night writing sometimes. Other days, when the spirit moves, he's more prolific. But he's written two books to completion in this manner. :)

  • Julie Luek

    Beatriz, my friend MLSwift, who added a comment below, could totally relate to what you are saying. He and I have had very similar conversations about, as you so beautifully said, our "souls lay fallow" (love that). I think you touched on something good too- if we  don't stress about it too much, in time, when our souls and hearts are rested, perhaps the words will flow again. 

  • Julie Luek

    Dawn, you get my advice award of the day! Yes, yes for chocolate and a beach (and a good book... to read!). Your note made me laugh. I too have had good ideas, all ripe for the harvest, still rooted in my brain. 

    Patricia, I kind of had fun tongue-in-cheek with this post, but totally agree about seasons in life. :)

  • Julie Luek

    Mike, I've actually thought about you and how stories are always flitting through your mind. I wish I was a bit more like that. Thanks for the comment; you are always so encouraging. 

  • Olga Godim

    Great post, Julie. I had this 'drunk on writing' phase before, but it went away after awhile. Now I just plant myself in front of the computer every day and try to write. Three sentences a day is a goal. Sometimes I fail, but most days I succeed and write much more than 3 sentences. But failure is OK too. Here is a quote I encountered recently and 'adopted.'

    "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill   

  • Beatriz Terrazas

    Wow, Julie, this a wonderful post, and a timely one for me. I spent the last six years being a long-distance caregiver and writing about it. During that time I'd step away periodically because I couldn't write anymore. I began to think of those times as seasonal periods when my soul lay fallow. Those were times to let my energies, creative and emotional, be renewed. Because even when writing doesn't bleed, it takes effort. My mother died at the end of March, and the last time I wrote anything of note was so long ago -- something I published in The Rumpus last December, but which had been written way, way before then. I don't really have the energy to write at the moment. My soul lays fallow now, and much like other times when it's been devoid of words and the spark of creativity, I think that perhaps I will never write again. But maybe, much as it has done in the past, time will prove me wrong about that once more.

  • Patricia Robertson

    So many good comments. I have nothing new to offer. There are seasons for everything, maybe now is time for rest and allowing your soul to recharge.