Monday, August 18, 2014

Am I A Pretender?


I’ve completed one novel and one short story, and that last part is only truthful depending on perception. Do stories posted on sites like livejournal and myspace eons ago count? Do I trick myself into thinking they matter? Gotta keep my hopes up, right? Gotta…I can see the red checkmark from past English teachers. My eighth grade English teacher had a pointy nose and sprayed on everyone in the first two rows when she spoke. Now imagine her leaning in when she needed to make a point, “Gotta ain’t a word!” followed by “And neither is ain’t!” Does remembering how the spittle landed on my notebook, smearing the ink, make me a better writer or point out the fact I have not done near as many drugs as some people I know?

I suck at grammar. I’m certain this post changes tense, has broken the rules of the comma and may make you re-read a sentence. So many rules. I’ve owned several books about them all, and, oh, the contradictions. My college English teacher once said to the whole class that some of us would keep editors in business. Mind you, the whole class knew I was the only one pursuing the writer’s dream. I want to say she just didn’t like me or my writing style. With four daughters, one less than a year old, I admit I waited until the last second to hammer out the word count. I didn’t edit. It was dumb…lazy…neglectful, pick an adverb. I tested the theory once out of sheer spitefulness. A friend and I wrote the exact same sentence in our essay, same mistake. I received the dreaded red check and a ‘C’. She did not and got an ‘A’. Things that make you go hmmmm.

Please don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed all of them. They taught me a lot. My favorite was a high school teacher, Mrs White. She was the first teacher to encourage my writing. The first person who saw my potential. But I digress.

I watched a fake documentary that made me groan, laugh and cry a little. It’s called Authors Anonymous. Kaley Cuoco, Chris Klein, Dylan Wash, Tricia Helfer and Jonathan Banks starred in the film. It’s about a dysfunctional writing group and after one landed an agent and the publishing deal, then the movie deal, etc, well, the jealousy got thick. Although after hearing some of the other writers’ work there was no wonder why they got rejection after rejection. One of them read an erotic scene they wrote that just sounded disgusting. I understood what she meant but the literal prose, written that particular way made me cringe. That wasn’t what made me cry, surprisingly.

They made a point of pushing determination with no distractions. How could one be a writer when they only had three pages in a month’s time? There’s a difference between walking the walk versus talking the talk. That made me cry.

My writers block has been life, lately it’s been pain. Sure I have a family to support, bills to pay and over the last month I’ve been in such severe pain that I’ve missed work, but other writers prevail where I fall. Am I a pretend writer full of excuses or an author who just needs to get their shit together? I’ve never asked that question out loud. There’s nothing in this world I want more for myself than to hold a fresh off the press copy of Shadow Faith book 1, Birth of a Vixen and create a shelf where books two through however many can rest. Then what is holding me back? What excuses can grab my attention tomorrow? It’s been said that if you can think of anything else you want to do with your life other than write then do that because writing is hard, publishing is even harder. I can’t see another future. So I guess the question isn’t “Am I a pretender?” but rather “What’s my next story about?”

6 comments:

  1. No, Colleen, you are not a pretender by ANY means. A person who can remember and accurately depict a teacher whose "spittle landed on my notebook, smearing the ink" is a writer by calling. Whatever emerges - books, blog posts, emails - these are products, and they're great when they happen. But who you are is defined by what you do, not how much you produce. Or even who publishes, or doesn't publish you. Every day you craft a sentence that someone recognizes as part of their reality, too, you're a successful writer. Don't let anyone tell you differently. That Colleen Tews is right - move on to the next question.

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    1. Thank you, Paula. Your words give me new hope. Sometimes the day to day problems and worries can make even the most steadfast question their path. In a moment of doubt you have helped me in ways I can't seem to find the right words to explain.

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    2. Thank you. And you, too. I figured I'd repost the link for others out there that have felt the same way. It's a tough world.

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  2. Stick with it, Colleen. It is a tough world. Any time you put an artistic endeavor out for public consumption, you risk having your soul mauled. There will be moments of hideous self-doubt. Moments where you are just one straw away from giving up and going back to writing for yourself. But I'm with Paula - you are a writer at heart. You will always want to write. And the good moments, the best moments, make all the rest worthwhile.

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    1. Thank you, EJ. There really isn't another choice for me. Now I just need book sales to reflect it. lol

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