Thursday, December 29, 2016

Writing Is Contagious. Like An Infectious Disease From Which You Will Never Recover.

My six year old is proud of her writing. So innocent! So naive!

My friend John is blogging now. He's been blogging every day. And each time I read his short quips, it makes me want to write in my blog. But then I have nothing focused to say and I don't really write "short" anything. I back my way into stories, books and blogs and it takes a bit of meandering before I find my way.

Perfectionism is hurting my ability to write. If I don't have something profound and tidy to say here, I don't say anything.

If I can't make each chapter of the memoir I wrote perfect, I don't edit. I have a completed memoir. A 300-page finished book that just needs me to make some minor tweaks and edits. But right now every time I open that giant file, I feel exhausted and weighed down by all of the ways it's not perfect.

I submitted a short short story to a number of literary journals recently. And I also submitted a longer nonfiction piece (one of the chapters from my memoir) to some as well. Overall, I submitted to about 30 journals. I've gotten about three or four rejections so far. One rejection wasn't "quite" a total rejection. They offered to publish my story if I changed the ending.

But I don't want to change the ending.

The ending is the one thing that's perfect.

Unlike everything else I'm not writing and not editing and not doing.

I had a point with all of this but I can't quite find it. Everything related to writing feels oppressive and heavy. Each rejection pulls me a bit deeper. I try to laugh it off, but it doesn't feel good. Maybe I'm not editing my manuscript because I fear rejection? If I never finish the edits, the memoir can never be rejected.

And if I never write in this blog, I'll never have to be rejected here either. No comments? No problem! No likes, who cares!

Why do we write anyway? Is it navel gazing and egocentric? Is it to connect to others? I suppose if it were the former, the lack of comments or likes wouldn't matter. If it's the latter, the inability to publish or to have a conversation about it, that would feel like failure. But still the ego's in there, I'm sure.


Is everything about a fear of rejection or failure? Is that why we fall off the wagon? Cheat on our diets? Don't exercise? Don't do our homework? Procrastinate at work? I feel like there's some wisdom at my fingertips, but it eludes me.

It's probably something quippy like, "What would you do if you couldn't fail?"

Maybe I'd write a self-help book. Maybe I'd go on the motivational speaker circuit. Or maybe I'd just sit here writing shitty blogs and collecting rejection letters like lost loves and missed opportunities.

Okay. Time to rethink that motivational speaker career.


  1. Everything doesnt have to be perfection. It's the "imperfections" that make the "perfection" shine. Though I will say, even the mundane can sound intriguing and funny in your writer's voice.

    1. I'm going to have to think on that imperfections thing making the perfection shine. You just scrambled my brain like a zen koan. :-)

    2. Yes! I love that comment. Think about our favorite people. Often the things we appreciate and enjoy and admire about them are the things they don't see at all in themselves or reject in themselves and we love them most when they're not covering or hiding those things.

  2. Everything is pointing me to write these days. Even you. Sheesh.
    I lost my blog a couple of months ago when I accidentally deleted the email attached to it. I didn't figure it out until a month later when it was long gone into the ether. The message now? New stuff. Time for a whole new kind of new chapter. Thank you for continuing to be you, which helps me be me. Cheesy, but true. Much Gratitude XXOO

  3. I miss writing so much but I so relate to the entire mood of this post. I miss the anonymity of the old days. My words had never been used against me and I had such freedom. Today I fear discovery. On multiple levels.

    If you were to finish that editing I would be one of the happiest readers on the planet. And there's bound to be yeses out there for you. You only need one. But I bet there's a whole bunch of yeses for your story.

  4. Thanks for the mention and the link, Mandy. I am writing every day to fight perfectionism. By forcing myself to put something into the world every day I'm slowly crushing that need to endlessly rethink and revise everything I write.

  5. Dew and I were talking about approximately just exactly this last week. It is missed, that daily exercise of brain and the interaction into relationship that came out of it. And most difficult to find the way back into it. We decided we'd just start.


  6. Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Great book, and i highly recommend it regarding the rejection thing. I have been thinking of writing a book, then i accidentally typed into google "how to write a book" and i read an article that said "first, think of why you want to write a book" and it listed reasons. My reason wasn't there on that list and i got discouraged. My reason? Cause I want to, cause I am a good writer and I want to write a freaking book. Hopefully we both can get over our problems and become published. Good luck to you! I hope you start writing your blog more, I like reading it.

  7. Hi Mandy,
    In a perfect world all writing would be perfect, all you need are
    perfect people.
    You left out, those rejecting your work are far from perfect.
    If editors were perfect your words would be accepted.
    I read your blogs and they are beautiful.
    Here is a true story. When my goddaughter was young I gave her
    "The Diary of Anne Frank" (the first version). Twenty-plus years
    later I asked her about this book, she answered "It changed my life".
    Very few works make an impact but if a work is not in print...
    I wish you and yours a great holiday season and a Happy New Year.
    P.S. My New Years resolution: to read your book. :)

  8. Our friend Janice once gave me a notebook that said "We write to learn what we know" on its cover. I think that's long been the reason why I write. But dammit I'm with you on the perfectionism and ego part. I'm sure that's part of why I only wrote about 5 blog posts last year. I was very excited to see you in my feed again. Thanks for leading the rest of us!

  9. I get where you're coming from. I suppose this is just the wheel, going up, then down. It makes me sad to hear that you feel so heavy and burdened by something that brought us together, writing. Who and what are you really writing for? Something has gotten lost in translation I feel.

    Also, fuck perfection.