Thursday, October 21, 2010

Writer's GUILT

Writer's Guilt is that feeling you have for holing up in your writing space -- and I guarantee you it's a hole or a cave, because if it wasn't, you'd never get anything written.

You hide and for a few hours you write.

Even if you're published, even if you're a famous author, you know that what you write will probably never be read. It's not wasted, but it's a first draft, something that may resemble the final story, but it's not the final story.

Or you revise. God, I hate revision. So if you're like me, you sit cursing in your Writing Cave (creating new curse words like shitballs and hellfuck and madre de mutherfucking dios), hack-hack-hacking until the words are right and you can move off that page and never, never, NEVER look at that piece of dingleshit again (unless an editor asks you to look, in which case it must not have been that bad, eh).

You embrace the art of writing and in doing so you neglect your family. You could be playing with your kids or taking them frog-hunting around the neighborhood. It's frog season, you know, the tadpoles are grown, and last year, around this time, we bagged nineteen -- count em, NINETEEN -- toads a-hopping around the neighborhood.

You neglect little Fluffy, or in my case, Princess Daisy, our Pomeranian who sits in my lap as I write. Let's not mention Nicki the ball-crazy Corgi. He's too nuts to sit in my cave with me.

You neglect your chores, dinner, put off getting dressed or showered or nibbling your sweetie pie. (I don't put off that last part. Hell, yesterday I stopped mid-sentence to nibble on her.)

You delay all these things in lieu of WRITING.

And if you're like me -- and I bet you are -- you feel guilty.

You feel like you should be doing all those other things, that your family is more important, that the Corgi deserves a good ball-throw in the yard, and wouldn't that be more fun than banging out another 750 words on this goat-fucking story that SUCKS, and you hate the voice, the tone, the main character, and... well, your mind bends back to the keyboard and you peck out another 750 words and 200 to grow on, because you didn't want to stop in an awkward place.

I'm giving you all permission, so here it is: Stop feeling guilty.

I'm lucky because my wife supports my writing. She pokes her head into the cave, kisses me, says, How's it going?

Good. This sucks, so I'm doing it right.

This is the story you're going to publish in the spring, the one with me in it?

Yep, if I can get it fixed. It sucks donkey balls. I hate my life.

I made you a plate.

She hands me the plate she made, the food she cooked, sets down an open beer and says, How much longer?

An hour or so. Thanks for the food and beer. Pick out a movie and we'll watch when I'm done.


Then she picks out a horror blood-fest action flick, and puts her head in my lap while we watch and I drink another beer, and now you all know why I love her so much.

Anyway. The point of all this is that you should NOT feel guilty. Find some balance. Write and be PROUD that you write, no matter what or whose balls it sucks.

Talk to your loved ones about it, help them understand that writing is important to you, and if it's important to you, it will be important to them, no less than would ballet for your daughter or soccer for your son or soccer for your daughter and ballet for your son. If that was what they loved and enjoyed and said, Daddy/Mommy, please, can I do it, I LOVE it!

You'd do it, and you'd be happy for them, especially when they succeed at something they worked so hard to achieve.

Don't feel guilty.

Don't feel guilty.

As they say about good workouts, we can say about good writing: EMBRACE THE SUCK!

And embrace it without the guilt.

Do you feel guilty? Does your family support your writing? Do you have any curse words I can add to my arsenal?

- Eric

PS: Speaking of WRITING CAVES, have you entered Summer's LAZY BLOGFEST, where you post a picture of your writing area Nov 1. I'll be exposing my cave then, so be prepared.


Vegetarian Cannibal said...

I don't even have a proper desk to do my writing...let alone a cave. I write with my laptop balanced on my lap. Sucks. But good blog post! If only my boyfriend was as helpful and understanding as your wife...maybe I'd get more writing done. *sigh*

I like your made-up curse words! Hee!

Stephanie Lorée said...

EricI think this is my favorite post of yours, if only for the creative use of profanity.

And to answer your questions:

Do you feel guilty? Guilt is for pansies. I do what I do and damn the torpedoes.

Does your family support your writing? I have no children, no husband. My mother likes to say "that's nice" and my boyfriend thinks I should write more scenes with chainsaws doing massive damage to enormo-creatures from the Abyss (who regenerate too quickly to be harmed by anything less damaging than a chainsaw). He swears chainsaws sell. Sad truth, he might be right.

Do you have any curse words I can add to my arsenal? All sorts...

Wine and Words said...

My heart
wants to spend itself
on you
and make you
the richest prose

But I starve the children
for all I spend
placing my bucks
in the boiling pot
of your hearth
while they sit
and hollow eyed

And I plan
to budget
which finds no success
for you are left
with spare change

EJ Fechenda said...

"Embrace the suck!" Love it! Yes, I too experience the guilt. The dog sits on my feet and whines occasionally. The cat boldly marches across the keyboard, which results is some profane language (none as creative as yours though). *sigh* This usually gets the very supportive husband and son laughing. Seriously, I think they enjoy that I'm so preoccupied and not nagging.

This is a great post!

Summer Ross said...

Oh yeah- there's guilt. I have a supportive manly man who has made me more inspired to read...otherwise just my fellow writers are my support team. My dad thinks its a dream wasted, mom's not around anymore, and most everyone else just plain doesn't get so I'll try not feeling guilt specially coming up NaNo

Curse words...ahem- excuse my language but "big green donkey d**ks" LOL I say it frequently to my writing. :)

Unknown said...

Loved the post. I have an invalid husband who loves my company, I know I'm very blessed, but oh, the guilt when I'm writing! :0)

dolorah said...

You actually stopped at the end of the hour? Really? Wow. If I say an hour my kids start without me. I'm really bad about timing - being on time, meeting deadlines.

Thanks for the permission to not feel guilty :) Usually I only feel guilty for being on a writing kick if I forgot to stock the cupboards with snacks and the freezer with microwaveables.
As for the rest - well, they're old enough, they can fend for themselves. Time with mom usually requires money and . .

So glad you have such an understanding sweetie. But ya know Eric, I think you found your balance you were looking for. Good for you.

Ah, you're writing on the book deal story? Good. It will be awesome; you'll work out the suckiness. Then, it'll just suck us all in :)

Hey, I like that Lazy Blogfest. I'll be putting mine up - soon as my Red Head sends me the pix on e-mail. Too cool to miss.

Happy writing Dude.


Jai Joshi said...

Your wife sounds like the most awesome spouse any writer ever had! Dude, well played.

This post is so true. I've had to give myself pep talks about the importance of not feeling guilty, because if I didn't write then I wouldn't feel happy and if I'm not happy then I'm going to start resenting my family. And that wouldn't help anyone.

It's important to take that time for ourselves.


Eric W. Trant said...

Veg: Find a place to write, if you don't have one. It makes a huge difference. Your cave may be your lap with a pillow, and if that's it, that's it.

Mes: Haha! The girl likes the dirty words. I agree with your boyfriend, that chainsaws sell. My bro and friends tell me what I should write and I tell them all to stick it, I'll write what I want. It may or may not involve chainsaws.

Annie: A poem! Thank you! I'm trying to think back on it, and this may be the very first poem a woman has ever given me. My cousin gave me one once, but he's a dude. I'm saving this in my personal writing stash, so thank you!

EJ: Yes, embrace the suck. One other saying is Meet Mr. Pukie, but that doesn't inspire much writing. Glad you have a supporting family, that makes ALL the difference.

Summer: I'm lucky this way. My mom was a librarian and avidly encourages me. Pop does the same. I had a cousin call me last week when he heard I'd gotten a book deal.

So, I suppose if you need some inspiration, you can borrow some of mine. I'm rich with it. And it sounds like you at least have that one supportive manly-man to cling to, and that's no small thing.

I'm keeping the BGDD curse. Nice.

Carole: I hear you on the guilt. Thus the post. I'm sure your husband understands (assuming he is capable), and on some level appreciates that his wife is doing something she loves.

Donna: Yes, I stop after an hour, if I say I'll stop, and yes, I found some balance this week, mainly because I've been able to WRITE. It's funny how stabilizing a few thousand words can be to the psychosis that is my mind.

Jai: She is awesome. She knows how important it is to me, and like yourself, I don't feel complete without writing. It is so much a part of me as to be as inseparable as my lungs.

Thank you all for the comments!

- Eric

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Guilt never corrected a problem or fixed a busted relationship. It is like a flat spare tire : let it go.

You have a gem of a wife. Treasure her.

Priorities. We set them, then live with the consequences.

Novels do not write themselves. We must believe in the worth of our novel, then we will see it is worth the time we spend on it.

Will our sacrifice have been worth it?

Did the 300 Spartans know the answer to that question? Did the men at the Alamo? Did Thomas Edison after failed experiment 789? (He didn't know it would be attempt 1000 to be the one to succeed.)

There are no promises of success in dreams. We cast our bread upon the water, hoping for a return of more than soggy dough.

Thanks for the kind words at my entry in the 13 DAYS OF HORROR series. They were appreciated very much.

Loralie Hall said...

My cave moves as the noise in the house moves - fortunately my new laptop has a longer battery life than my old one. I migrate away from the distractions, and my cave is the only way to get the intense writing done.

But yeah, I feel guilty about it...I should get over that.

Southpaw said...

I hadn't heard about the Lazy Blogfest yet. That sounds easy enough.

Right now, I feel guilty for ignoring my writing.

Eric W. Trant said...

Roland: Guilt is a flat spare tire. I like that one. I always heard that worrying (aka guilt) is like a rocking chair. You work at it all day and never get anywhere.

Adriana: Portable caves are nice, eh. My battery lasts 1.2hrs, so I have to write FAST if I'm unplugged...

Holly: Join the Lazy Fest. It's the one fest I think I can actually meet!

- Eric

Charity Bradford said...

I'm taking an hour to work through my google reader and your title stuck out to me. :D See it works both ways.

Anyway, this is an excellent post. I feel this way at least once a day. The problem is I'm the one that's supposed to be cooking. Luckily, my hubby is pretty forgiving and supportive most of the time.

Right now he is dreading November, but I keep reminding him that I won't write or revise anything for all of December while I recover. I think we are both looking forward to Dec 1st.

I've found the only way to avoid the guilt is to set aside my writing blocks. When everyone knows that's my writing time, I get more done. It also allows me to concentrate on my day job better--mom, wife, friend.

Thanks for the honesty of this post. It's great to know we all feel this way.

Raquel Byrnes said...

My husband actually sends me to write because he claims it de-grumpifies me. 0_o

So I actually get in a lot of time guilt free. He's a super duper hubby!

Glad to see you've been both writing AND living. Sometimes one gets left behind.

Will join the blogfest...sounds fun.

ryan said...

I once stayed in a hotel on a ski trip managed by the John Malkovich character in Rounders. He began almost every sentence with "Faaaksheit." "Faaaksheit, it's cold." Or "Faaaksheit, you can have extra coffee. You are guest" (mind the accent, please). So every time I open my computer, I give it a good faaaksheit.

It reminds me to write with the conviction of an immigrant, even if the work sucks BG Russian DD.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can relate to some of this. I think it's when the writing snowballed into blogging and promoting and everything else that I began to feel guilty. And as soon as I'm through with my book release and promotions, I intend to spend some time with the person who's patiently waited for my attention. (Some days less patient than others!0

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I went through writer's guilt this summer while working on edit rounds. I had deadlines, an impending move, and two boys at home. Thankfully my husband took the lion's share of parenting, and I hung out at the library.

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

I'm still laughing at ryan's comment, too funny. My dear, I love that you make up swear words, especially the madre one. I must get more creative in that category. I usually just lump them all together in one big long word.

Lately my guilt has been about NOT writing but I'm almost past that awful hump.

I'm happy that you're writing and getting through the revisions, that rebel, Olivia

Patricia Stoltey said...

Any post that makes me laugh out loud in six different places is awesome. I do not feel guilty, ever. But then, I have a husband who's more likely to ask, "How much did you write today?" than "Where's dinner?" Isn't that awesome?