Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What really matters . . .

I love reading the "success stories" on  It's always interesting to read about the writer's journey to "the call."  Though I have to admit, there's one question that always makes me flinch: "How long have you been writing?" Aside from the fact there's always some gag-worthy answer like, "I came out of the womb with a pencil in my hand" or "I wrote my first short-story when I was three" (no offense if this applies to any of my readers ;), the question always makes me feel like a bit of an outsider.  The truth is, I've never been one of those writers who write because they love writing.  For me, it's always been about the stories in my head, and writing is just the medium I choose to express them.

When I was little, my vivid imagination was expressed through play.  I was a Barbie FIEND!  I'd play for hours on end.  If I wasn't playing Barbies, I was playing house with my best friend from down the street.  We would wrap old receiving blankets around our waists and heads and pretend we were getting married, or we'd stuff pillows under our shirts and pretend we were pregnant (oh, and remember using crayons as cigarettes?).  Ah, yes.  Back in the day when kids actually used their imaginations . . .

As I got older, the stories didn't go away, but my means to express them did.  In college, I dabbled with the idea of going down some kind of creative path--directing, acting, writing--something that would allow me to share the stories that floated around in my noggin.  Unfortunately, practicality won out.

Years (and an early midlife crisis) later, I came to the conclusion I HAD to share these stories.  As a SAHM, I couldn't very well go back to school or anything like that.  BUT, I could write them down.  Of course the idea was terrifying.  I'd written angsty-teenage poetry, had a couple things published in my high school literary magazine, journaled, aced college papers, written press releases . . . but writing a novel? 

Let's face it, some people have a talented love affair with words.  They can bend and sculpt them into beautiful pieces of art.  Their stories flow like calm and winding rivers.  And then there's me.  Writing does not come easy for this girl.  Seriously, if you were to come to my house and observe one of my writing "sessions", you would see me type real fast for about maybe five seconds, and then sit staring at my screen for three minutes.   This little routine would go on for about an hour, with interludes of backspacing and maybe a little high-lighting  and deleting.  If I had two pages written after that hour, I would consider it a productive day.

But that's okay.  The story is getting written down, and over the past two years I've learned (and continue to learn) to write, to bend and sculpt my words--not so my prose are a piece of art--but so that my readers can see the story in their heads with as much detail and clarity as I see it in my own. 

There's a reason I wrote this post today.  This has been one of my roughest months as a writer since starting this journey two years ago, and I just wanted to remind myself of what it's all about.  Take away the critiques, rejections, self-doubt, and every other negative emotion; and this is what I'm left with:  the stories in my head.  In the big scheme of things, it doesn't matter whether or not I ever get published.  I'm CREATING something.  I'm breathing life into something that had previously existed only in my little, crazed mind; and doing this makes me feel good and . . . alive.  At the end of the day, isn't that all that matters?


  1. Beautiful! I so love you. You are so true to yourself.

    I too CAN'T say I was writing since 3. :-P For me, it was an evolution. My focus was visual arts when I was growing up. But one thing I can say for sure is that READING brought me to the world of writing. I've always loved to read. And like you, stories came to life in my head.

    I love how you share with us your childhood. It's so true--back in the days of unsophisticated technology, we were forced to use our imaginations. Role-playing was our tool. And how fun it was! I sometimes worry about my kids--with video games, iPhones, iPads, etc., creativity gets shoved in the background.

    Anyway, keep on writing and keep on creating your stories. <3 You are a beautiful writer.

  2. Thank you! I am with you all the way on the stories thing. I am forever playing stories in my head, since I was a kid all the way up until this morning. Sometimes i make them up, other times I play out scenes from books or movies or tv shows the way I think they should have gone. Writing is my medium, not my life. It drives me nuts when people say 'I just have to write, if I didn't could't write I would die', and loads of other melodramatic stuff just to sound like a 'writer'. Yes, I know that there are indeed people out there who are really like that, but I've found that the majority of people say that stuff either to sound cool and official, or because they think that;s how they should be, but aren't.

    Way to keep it real, keep it about what's true for you, and represent for the rest of us!

    Great post!

  3. I love this post! I feel the same way. When I get home from work, and I'm exhausted and feel like, why aren't I published yet? I remind myself that writing is my thing. It makes me happy. It's my creative escape. And yes...I wish kids were still imaginative! I loved climbing trees, playing dolls, making magazines for my dolls (we only had one male doll who they all fought over) and dreaming up worlds with my sister. Great post Angela! You keep going!

  4. Aww, Cherie--I <3 you too! Oh yes, I forgot about my love for books growing up! I think I read every "Babysitter's Club" and "Sweet Valley Twins" ever written when I was younger ;o). I worry about my kids too :o( My son has NEVER been into toys--he loves his video games. Even though I limit his computer time, you can't FORCE your kids to use their imagination, lol. I think he'd rather stare at a wall than do that ;o) My daughter is a little bit better when it comes to "pretending", but nothing like I was when I was a child.

    @Marian--I used to always imagine new music videos for songs, lol. I remember watching MTV and getting so mad because I always thought the videos had nothing to do with the songs, lol. I always thought music videos should tell the story written in the lyrics, not be some abstract crap that no one gets, lol. Anyways, thank YOU for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    @Meredith--I'm so glad you could relate to my post :o) LMAO about the one male doll! What IS up with that?? For the longest time, I only had one Ken doll, lol. My cousin and I used to have to share him and have him play "multiple roles" ;o) hehehe!

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  6. EEK. Sorry, huge typo. HEH.

    Angela, are you SURE you aren't my clone?? We already had cake decorating and other things we in common, and now we have THIS! I did not write when I was little. I wrote a tiny bit in middle school, and when I started babysitting, I would entertain the kids with stories I made up in my head. I had settings/characters that I drew, colored, cut out, and glued felt on the back. I used a felt board to act the story out on.

    I guess that was my early attempt at story boarding. It's no wonder that to this day, I'm such a visual writer and keep a bulletin board in my office to tack character shots to.

    Like you, I grew into writing. I wasn't born into it. :)

  7. Preach it, sister!! I am just like you. I lived in an imaginary world that came to life at stoplights--the people walking through the crosswalk is a great place to cast new daydreams, and through my little pony play w/my girls in the bath tub. It was about 3 years ago now that I decided to channel all that STUFF into something--writing was just a way to get it out.

    This month has been particularly tough for me, too. Thankfully there will be huge amounts of food next week to comfort us ;)

  8. Oh, and to you and Bethany both, I'd like to add: Hang in there, dear friends. I was exactly where you are not so long ago. Which tells me you'll be where I am very soon.

    Just keep writing!!

    #goatwub you BOTH! (and Cherie, too - hee)

  9. @Anita--I totally get the visual thing. I think that's one of the most frustrating things with writing--the stories are so REAL and vivid in my head, and sometimes it can be a struggle to convey it in words. I wish I could just plug a printer into my head and the story that's in there would magically appear on paper ;o) Oh, and thank you for your kind words :o) I TRULY believe if I keep on truckin', it'll happen SOME day. I'm just finding myself low on patience and high on frustration these days ;o)

    @Bethany--Wow, you took the words right out of my mouth ;O) I think I spend more time in my imaginary world than I do reality (just ask my hubby and kids, hehe). Oh, and Anita is right, I have a feeling you'll get there very soon ;o) You have someone in your corner (Rachael) who believes in your work! That right there is HUGE! It's like that Rocky movie when he fights that big Russian. You're Rocky, Rachael is the old trainer (what was his name?), and the publishing industry is the Russian. Oh, and in case you don't remember, Rocky wins the fight. Yes, Bethany, you are THAT good ;o)

  10. Awesome post and I really needed to read this. I've been struggling with doing any writing since my friend died last week and I've not felt the worth in writing. But it's not about getting published, it really is about creating something! That is all that matters.

    And I was totally the same with Barbies! I would play for hours and make up the most ridiculous stories that I never could play out at one time. They had to continue. Using your imagination was a lot of fun and I won't stop doing it. I secretly still wish that I played with Barbies. :)

    Thanks for this post!

  11. Hi Krista. I'm so sorry about your friend. I've been following your blog posts about him . . . I'm glad you stopped by and enjoyed my post :)

    I still have ALL of my Barbies, hehehe ;o) Of course, after all these years, they're a bit fragile. I've lost a couple of heads as of recent years, which is why I only let my daughter play with them when I can "supervise" lol. I know, that's pretty sad, but they're the only thing I have left from my childhood! ;-)

  12. I love the recollections of childhood imagination. Stories can come from anywhere! I used to sit in the mud and make up stories about ants and sticks and hollyhocks. But I AM a little strange!

    Don't worry about comparing yourself to others. Run your own race! You are doing something extremely rewarding, even when it's tough and has no tangible rewards. You are a writer.

    Bethany, did you mention something about "pony play" in the tub? Elaborate!

  13. Hi Phreshy! I've missed you around twitterville! As soon as Bethany mentioned "pony play" I thought of you, hehe :o) Oh, and yes, I'm trying to do my own thing these days (and not compare myself to everyone else). For example, everyone says to keep on writing (while querying), but instead of writing, I've just been letting my mind wander around aimlessly (and reading a lot). I figue by January, I should have my next project figured out in my head, wrapping up on the querying, and ready for round-freakin'-three. ;)