Friday, May 27, 2011

Do Other Things

Artists don't wait for approval, and they don't wait for anyone else to tell them that they're good. But they do have to wait until they think work is ready. They are true to the voice (that elusive thing!), and they make that voice as strong as possible through hard work and constant reevaluation.

There. That's my art-centered, self-improvement rant. And, to be completely honest, it's a mantra as well as a statement. I've had a little trouble getting new work down lately. The reason is, paradoxically, because I've been getting more acceptances of my work lately. You'd think confidence would improve, right? Oddly, the opposite is happening. I'm feeling a heightened pressure each time I put a work out there for consideration. I'm rereading my old work and wondering why my current work feels so comparatively inadequate. Granted, when that old work was current, it too felt inadequate.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm having a little bout of block. I've been spending most of my time copy editing, which I actually love to do. It feels like exercise, and better, it pays. Also, I've spent a lot of computer time preparing a syllabus for a summer course that I'm hoping will make (we adjuncts never know) and outlines for a few appearances I'll be doing in SA (more soon). And yes, I have been writing. But the writing has been slow-going, and I suspect that the reason for this is that I'm putting too much pressure on myself to ride the publication wave. It's the same problem I had when I was just beginning to write--the whole write to publish mentality--when by now I should know that to write is to take the first in a long series of steps. Write, ruminate, revise, do other things, revise with distance, cut all unnecessary words, do other things, reread, then think about publication.

I'll get over it, I know. Writing is, after all, about ups and downs. If I'm down, there's only one direction to go. In the meantime, I'm going to try and have some fun this Memorial Day weekend. I'm not drinking like, it seems, the rest of the world will be. But, I will be partying, in air conditioning (San Antonio just hit 110 on the heat index -- and it's still May!!!). I'm not saying I'm taking a break from writing. There's no such thing. But I am definitely in the "do other things" part of the cycle with much of my existing work. No matter how much we writers perfect routines, the very nature of this work doesn't allow for too much conformity. This is an easy thing to forget.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend Everyone!!!   To doing other things!!!


  1. I've found that the writing seems to be inadequate when I force it out. Like you said, routine is just to hard for me when it comes to writing. I try to write at a certain time every night. IF I'm actually able to pull that off, there is no guarantee that the ideas are flowing out at just that time. Good for you in not forcing it. You got to do what is right for you at the right time. Great post!

  2. I also think this is a great post. I suppose each writer has to find his or her own balance when it comes to getting work done. I dedicate a certain amount of time at my computer, but don't demand a specific word or page count. When I've done that I've had to throw out a great deal of work that wasn't good.

    When it comes to my opinion of my own work, that differs each time I read it, no matter if it's my old work or my new material

    Your work is excellent, Jen. I think you just have to trust that.

  3. Thank you, LJ & Steve, for your stories. I agree, we all need to work at our own pace because creativity, unlike most activities, can't always be forced. Yet, it's so easy to feel the pressure to keep momentum... I know what you mean, Steve, my perspective on my work changes so often, too. I've found that on the wrong day, I can absolutely destory a decent piece. On the right day, I can take something seriously lacking and make it come alive.

    It's a roller coaster, creative ventures. And no matter how many ON WRITING books we read, we all have to, in the end, find our own way. I've I've learned anything, I've learned that. :)

  4. Thank you Jen, I really needed to read this today. You are so amazing, I am so lucky to call you friend.

    I wish I liked editing more. I love the writing and sometimes like today don't feel I have a word in me to write. Again thank you

  5. We're always writing, Marta. Thanks for reading this... it's so easy to get caught up in the pressure of the game.
    I'm proud to call you my friend, too, :) Jen


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