|09-25-2008, 02:41 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2007
My Passion Makes Me Unhappy
Facing some pretty rough days recently. Since seventh grade I've considered myself a writer. I used to write lots of stories and even wrote a 90p novella in HS. I studied lit/cr wri in college, worked at a bookstore and am just starting a creative writing mfa program for which i am taking out loans and which took a lot of planing and effort to get into.
But the thing is that I've never written anything that's good. I'm not just being down on myself. I keep having this idea of myself as a passionate writer and keep thinking of all the hours I'l put into writing my new book, but I had three months off and only wrote 30 pages, which were bad. I turned them in to workshop and now I see what's wrong with them, I dont really feel like rewriting it (don't feel like it!). I tried to rewrite and it just sounded sterile. I went to see my professor and he said my main character was stock, unalive, which is true and I tried to talk about how to make him more real but I felt so stupid, like I just didn't get it. And finally he said well, you've probably written stories where the character has "taken off" but I hadn't. I feel like a stupid fraud. I say writing is my passion, but I don't really like doing it that much. I just feel guilty when I don't do it, and sometimes it feels good to turn a good phrase or set up an interesting scene. I say writing is my passion but really i'm no better at, nor have I achieved more with my writing than the guy in my class who doesn't want to be a writer at all, but wants an communication degree so he can work in politics.
I think about steve's first chapter and wonder what's "the truth" here? Am I a real writer who is just doubting myself? Am i someone who's just held onto a childhood dream too long? Am i just in need of discipline? Should I quit grad school and just take a (shutter) job until I figure things out and not waste 60,000 dollars when I'm this unsure? Will I regret that or will i regret wasting my time/money? If this is my"passion" why is it making me so unhappy I keep crying and crying? Maybe I just have no message so whatever medium I choose seems phony.
I like working on my website more than writing but (shamefully) I made my website about writing!
I feel like I've just been trying and trying to narrow down my life into writing to *focus* on that, and it hasn't been making me happy.
The only thing in my life making me happy now is my boyfriend.
I keep thinking of dropping out but its only been a few weeks and it took so much effort to get here. Maybe I should go into psychology. I am too old and too far along to be so uncertain! What is true?
|09-25-2008, 04:35 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: In a green and bountiful land
I used to think I was born to be a writer too. I love books, I am extremely passionate about them, and I read all the time. I did a BA in English and Creative Writing, going £11k into debt to do so. Since graduating two years ago I have written exactly diddly squat, even though I took 6 months off to write a book. I even made a website about helping people write well, but I quit working on it when I realised I was the blind leading the blind.
The truth, for me, is that I do love books, I love writing - other people's writing. I enjoy giving feedback, proof-reading, suggestions. I have a couple of friends who are really talented writers, and I love talking to them about it. I finally realized that maybe what I could do is publish, or edit, or work in a press. My final choice is to go into counseling and therapy, and help people use writing as a form of therapy.
One thing I do know. If your characters are stale, you hate your words, and you can't make yourself write reams when you are excited, then you won't ever be a happy writer.
Here's a poem called "So you want to be a Writer". It might be relevant.
if it doesnít come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
donít do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
donít do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
donít do it.
if youíre doing it for money or
donít do it.
if youíre doing it because you want
women in your bed,
donít do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
donít do it.
if itís hard work just thinking about doing it,
donít do it.
if youíre trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
youíre not ready.
donít be like so many writers,
donít be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
donít be dull and boring and
pretentious, donít be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
donít add to that.
donít do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
donít do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
donít do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.
|09-26-2008, 06:34 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Hi fellow writer,
Don't worry about hating your work. All writers hate it at one point of their manuscript. Writing is hard. But if you are passionate about it, then write. Write nonsense. Write everywhere. But write every day.
If you want to kickstart this habit of writing everyday (and finishing something !), try to join the NaNoWriMo this November. You'll have to write a 50,000 words novella in 31 days. It's good practice if you want to grow confident in your writing. Once again, writing "bad" prose is okay. Taking months to write a short story is okay.
I am the kind of person who writes everyday, on any subject. I wrote two 170p (unfinished !) novels, one in my native language and in the other one in english. I have an undefined number of short stories on my HDD. I wrote articles for 5 years on a blog. I used to be into heavy journalling and I have filled maybe 30000 A4 pages during the last 7 years. This month I'm starting a PDF magazine for my friend group.
But my day job is : computer programmer.
This is only to show you that you don't have to *pay* or switch carreers to be a writer. You just have to be obsessed about it.
Hope this helps,
|09-26-2008, 06:55 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Oh, and... few people enjoy writing. Most just love having written. I don't think there are rules in the realm of passion.
Last edited by Niamh; 09-26-2008 at 06:59 PM.
|09-27-2008, 03:30 AM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
If you want to be a writer you have to write. Not take classes on writing, but actually write stuff. The classes are to hone your craft, but if you're not doing massive practice by actually writing they won't do you any good.
It doesn't matter if you write badly. To become good you have to start somewhere. But if you can't get yourself to write because you are paralyzed by the fear of writing badly then you should reconsider your plan.
|09-27-2008, 04:31 AM||#8 (permalink)|
Love in Action (Mod)
Join Date: May 2008
Some things are better left as hobbies. You don't realize it until you try to make it as more than a hobby, and come to despise it. It was that way for me with music. It was great as a hobby, but it was miserable for me when that was my primary focus, instead of just a way to relax.
It could be that way for you. Just because it is a passion of your's doesn't mean it is the only passion.
Last edited by pianoperformer; 09-27-2008 at 04:37 AM.
|09-27-2008, 04:51 AM||#9 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2008
have you ever tried taking a break from it? i've always just painted because i have. i found it hard after a while because there was 'nothing' in my paintings. i got tired of trying to force things out of myself so even though i was bad at sculpture, i decided to slowly work around with sculpture to just give myself a break.
after doing a few pieces, i came back to painting and found a massive inspiring amount of ideas coming to me because i used a different perspective to explore things for a while. perhaps give writing a break and do something else you've kind of been interested in before but never really followed it through. see how you can just have fun that way. then a few months later come back to writing and see if its done anything for you. it could have been timing for me but i don't feel like it was.
also. you're not too old. get that poisonous thought out of your head!
|10-05-2008, 05:18 AM||#10 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: SF East Bay Area, CA
Have you considered that maybe fiction (as in novels) writing isn't for you? Maybe there is another area of writing that would be better. I was just like you (minus the education) about 8 years ago. What I found is that fiction wasn't my thing. Have you thought about memoir writing? Or journalism or some variant thereof?
If you are truly drawn to fiction writing, have you thought about screenwriting or playwriting?
Sometimes when I'm stuck, I go towards haiku and poetry because it is, to me, it is writing in it's very essence. It teaches you conciseness and perfect simplicity. No words are wasted in poetry.
As for myself, I hate to sound like a pop culture sheep, but blogging has been the best thing I've done in terms of my writing. For me it was about sharing and I can share through my blog without having to go through editors and submissions.
Good luck to you!
|10-05-2008, 01:46 PM||#11 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2008
Writers are notoriously hard on themselves, and I get the feeling there might be a bit of that happening here. Writers often go through low spells or periods of feeling demotivated, wondering if they're as talented as they sometimes like to think they are or if they're just faking it.
Go easy on yourself.
A couple of things -
1. Where did your interest in writing come from originally? What made you want to write first of all? Was it an idea you had? A picture in your head about what 'being a writer' would be like? Was it something you read that fired you up and made you want to writer? Get clear on that original motivation and you'll be clearer about the place it occupies in your life right now.
There might be some great, positive reasons for wanting to be a writer, there might be reasons that were based on a romantic idea of what a writers' life is like, and there might even be more negative reasons such as being able to receive praise on your work.
2. You're allowed to take a break or change your mind. People often stay in the wrong jobs because they think they have to see it through or have to stay true to their original idea. Not so. You can make any decision at any time, you just need to make sure you make decisions that serve you well. For that to happen you need to think about what's important to you, what's personally relevant and what really matters to you. Then make decisions around those things.
Give yourself some time to figure it out - don't rush it.
|10-08-2008, 06:25 AM||#12 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2008
And I know that getting in was hard work and represents a huge achievement that is hard to let go of. I've been through that whole grad-school application process myself, as well as the whole ordeal of hating it once I was in. I understand.
I got into an excellent PhD program in my field, with full funding. But by the end of my first quarter I was absolutely miserable. All the joy I'd felt at studying independently in my field had been sucked dry. I hated grad school, and realized that I was not cut out to be an academic. After a lot of reflection, I realized that I didn't need either an MA or a PhD to do the things I really wanted to do, so I left at the end of my second quarter (which I only enrolled in to make sure it really was pointless, and because I wasn't paying for it).
It was a little embarrassing admitting to some family that I'd dropped out, but I've never once regretted it. Quitting was the best choice I could have made.
You don't need an MFA to write. Maybe if you want to teach writing, yes. But to craft stories? No. Very few published authors have MFAs in creative writing, and many of them don't even have BAs in it.
If you genuinely want to write, you will write. You'll carve out a part of each day to sit down and do it, no matter what you are actually doing to make a living. You'll do it because you have to for your own sense of joy and well-being, not out of any sense of duty. Writers write--that's what they do. And some of them share their works-in-progress with other writers, in critique groups, online, or at writers' workshops and retreats.
Maybe this just isn't your time to be a writer, or at least a writer of fiction. Maybe you're just too young--most writers don't really hit their stride until they are well into their 30s, after they've had a lot more life experience to draw upon. Maybe you just need to get out of school and go work at a lot of different jobs and have all kinds of experiences that will one day feed your writing, and give it the dimension it lacks right now.
I'm a painter as well as a writer, and trust me on this--visual artists have the same problem. Every kid in art school wants to get their creative career underway and be the next Hot Young Thing, but the truth is that most of us don't start producing our best work until after about age 35. I'm 41, and only now, after decades of mucking about--writing bland, fragmentary fiction and painting timid, tentative paintings--do I feel like I'm finally hitting my stride. I thought it would never happen, but here it is, and now I can see why it took so long.
Don't use grad school (whether it's the MFA, or psychology) as a way to defer getting a job--getting a job is nothing to shudder at, and you're going to have to do it eventually. You'll learn a lot by working at different jobs; even the crappiest ones will provide you with stories, and help you clarify what exactly you want and don't want from life. You might even find something you like, that lets you use the writing skills you do have.
On top of that, you'll make money (instead of crippling yourself with more debt), and build your resume in ways that actually matter to employers. And you can always decide to go back to school later; I got admittted to my grad program when I was 36, and I was not the oldest first-year student in my cohort.
If you're this miserable with grad school right now, it's not going to get any better. Get out, and take a few years off from school while you figure out what you really want to do.
Last edited by MagicalRealist; 10-08-2008 at 06:31 AM.
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