This blog was featured on 06/23/2017
She Says, He Says


A women’s writing community is a thing I will always support, encourage and perpetuate in any way I can. Because we’re women.  Women are lovely to each other (mostly) because we’re nurturers and caretakers. We’re the softer sex and we are just generally easier to be around. Think about it: If you’re writing in the same room with another woman and you drop your pencil, she will immediately stop what she’s writing to retrieve it for you. If you’re in that same room, writing with a man, that pencil will sit there on the floor all day. Imagine if that pencil was an oxygen mask.

Most of my writing advice comes from my women’s writing community—online and in real life--and it is always inspiring, provocative and practical. But recently, I happened upon a post whose title both intrigued and deterred me. It was this one: Here's How To Finish That Fucking Book, You Monster and it was written by Chuck Wendig on his blog, Terrible Minds.  It wasn’t the language to which I objected...god knows I know plenty of women who are comfortable with all the words—George Carlin’s seven plus some. Also, I’ve bandied “fuck” about myself—in writing. Maybe it was because it was a boy, but whatever it was,  I kept the website tab open on my computer and finally drifted back to it. As I read it, it began to occur to me why I was pulled into it. I’ll tell you in a minute. But first, here’s a little bit about what Chuck offered.

It’s really the same advice, because we writers tend to need to hear the same thing over and over and that is to write. Just write, just do it. Clear the calendar and the excuses and put pen to paper. Write. That’s what the author is saying in this essay, too. But he just says it a little differently. Some samples:

1. Stop complaining about it. I know, it’s hard. It’s easier to talk about writing than it is to actually write, isn’t it?

He starts out gently, doesn’t he? It’s what we all need to hear and he opens with something pretty easy on the ego. And then...

3. Set your time, and defend it &

4. Find your space, and defend it. ...Anybody who wants to take your space, you wave a knife at them. You shake a jar of bees at them. Rub blood and bones in your hair and hiss at any who would dare to violate your WORD DISGORGEMENT BUBBLE.

See?  A little more, er, intense. He gets more fired up, while still maintaining pretty accurate guidance:

7. Don’t beat yourself up.  You know what good that does? ZIPPITY SHIT NADA BUPKISS POOP NOISE NOTHIN.

Again, sage advice, just put a little more coarsely than I’ve usually seen it delivered. Reading on, we get to this one:

15. Hunt, kill and eat a mailman. Mailmen are made of words. They deliver words every day to people. Hunt one down and devour him to consume all the words he has ever delivered.

So, that one was a fake—thrown in to make sure the reader was still with him. But when does any woman make jokes about eating mailmen, or people in general? It never occurred to me to joke about eating another human. Something to think about, I guess.

One that is always a good reminder for me (also a little more blunt than usual):

17. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. What genre they’re writing, how many words per day, what advice they’re giving — just, nngh, meh, fuck it. Get shut of it. That includes any effluvium that comes frothing out of my mouth, too. 

And then...

25. Go right now and write. Right now. Go. Now. WRITE, YOU MONSTER, WRITE.

And that was it. He called me a monster. That, more than any other Writing Encouragement, hit me squarely in my writer’s ego because deep down, I think I might be a monster. All those great words I’ve been composing in my head have no place to go. They are waiting to come out and scatter across the page and I sit here, barring their liberty with my excuses and clatter about time and too many other responsibilities. Ugh. I’m sick of hearing myself blather about it. Monster describes exactly how I’ve been feeling day-in and day-out as I’ve thought about writing, but have spent little actual time in my chair. That epithet, reserved for chilling creatures and dangerous beasts stung me because I’m feeling so terrible about not finishing my book. Books. I have a couple of projects that I’m neglecting and I’m NOT writing them. I am a monster.

I don’t think any of the women I know would call me a monster. They might circle around “lazybones” or poke at my sense of discipline, but no outright name-calling. But this time, this particular man’s observation was able to hit a well-protected target with one word. And it did the trick. I am feeling motivated and, maybe after I take advantage of some found time this weekend, even a little productive.

Not that my wonderful and cherished female-energy support system hasn’t provided that outcome before. It has. Oh, hell yes, it has. There is no contest for best advice-givers. My go-to adviser will probably be a woman, but I’m not against men with advice. I married a man who likes to give advice—not that I always listen. We just have to be confident in being able to call each other out, whoever is in the role of adviser. Even if it’s hard to hear, I don’t think any writer would be satisfied with advice that didn’t require us to examine our true motives.  And remain dedicated to our writing goals, no matter if she said it or he did.

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