Saturday, August 28, 2010

fumbling about

(08.21.10 - 2:10 am - near dark pitch pine trees - it seemed important at the time)

I recently believed I'd become a writer. But then I got a letter. Several actually. They all said the same thing. "Nope." I hate it when that happens.

The thing is, Mr/Mrs. Nathan/Kirsten/William/Kate/Sara/Michael etc etc, I am a writer. But you were right. Saying "no," I mean. I'm just not a publishable writer. Yet.

Before the gates of excellence, the gods have placed sweat. – Katherine Paterson

But it's just that I put so much work into writing the stupid book, I thought for sure - for sure - you'd have to say "Yes!!" and "How many zeroes would you like on your check?" and "We'd like to buy all the books you've ever, ever written - since first grade" and "Can you fly to New York in the morning? First class of course. On us." Instead you just said "Nope." Turns out that work - the uncounted, grinding hours - some spent huddled in the dark of my mind, lots sitting in that one room in the library, others spent thinking and typing and then backing up and writing again. And again. And again. They were all just a waste, right?

(Note to you, Muse over publishing: Where's my dream about sparkly vampires in a meadow? Dude.)

So ok, not a waste. A journey. A life lesson. A process. Becoming a published writer is a slap in the face, brisk water, ultramarathon, "you'd better be ready for years of nope 'cuz that's the price to play, son. It just is."

Fine. be that way. If I want this thing. Really really want it. Then I should - I must - understand that only the serious dare enter the cage, boots cinched tight, prepared for no after no after no. Because as someone brilliant (and published) once said - "That which we receive too cheap we esteem too lightly."

The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork (including writing) is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars. — David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

So back to the wrestle go I. Fumbling about once again. Still. Always. I bring what few tools I've got to the work, and work the best I know how. Believing still. Again. Always.

I will be published. I must be published. I'll bend bones, snap turtle shells (empty), call down angels, even eat Cream of Wheat to be published, brotha. I shall prevail. I must. Must.

“Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.” Bill Goldman


  1. Beautiful. You said it, brotha. Exactly the way I would have. Except not. Because I can't write like you. But you do. And you will. And it will be Published. We ALL know that.

    And Bill Goldman's quote is haunting. Got the demon. Got the dancing diamonds that turn into clumsy earth. Must be a writer.

  2. Scott,
    A:If you ever start having dreams about sparkly vampires in meadows, I will deny ever knowing you.
    B:What's wrong with cream of wheat?
    C:Don't give the Demon too much credit. You'll get there.

  3. Ah, truth. Thank you for being brave enough, and right enough, to be truthful.

  4. I seriously laughed at "Where's my dream about sparkly vampires in a meadow? Dude"

    Scott, this was a freaking incredible post. I am copying it and putting it in my writing book, along with your other great wisdom.

  5. You know what is so fantastic about this post? Other than the fact that is is so perfectly stated and so entertaining and devastatingly true all at the same time. I wasn't sure who had written it until I got to the end. You have more than a few tricks up your sleeve, but I have always known that.

  6. How is it that this post has left me feeling hopeless and empowered at the same time? :) The hopeless sounds like "wow, if Scott didn't make it through, I'm screwed" and the epowered something like: "Pioneer children sang as they walked, and walked, and walked, aaaaaaaand walked." We'll all just keep walking till we get there!

  7. Despite the reminder of how depressingly hard it is to get published.. this really was quite encouraging. I think it's time to start yet again on the book that will likely never make it. But at least now I feel better about it.