People Who Tell You to Stop Writing Are Monsters — So Defy Them!

I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.

–Mitch Hedberg

Searchin' for dreams. What happens to a dream deferred? (The same thing that happens to a wedding deferred? )

Searchin’ for dreams. That, or dry shampoo. What happens to a dream deferred? (The same thing that happens to a wedding deferred?)

I have alluded to a change in my day-to-day schedule. No need for further obfuscation: about a month ago, I quit my day job.

The reasons for this were myriad, and to be discussed in another post. I’m fortunate enough now to be in a situation where I’m able to focus on my long-term goals.

Sister and I read through paper ... waiting for our own names to appear ...

Sister and I read through paper … waiting for our own names to appear …

Through the years I have built up a cherished network of positive influences. It wasn’t always that way! If you are a writer, you have surely chanced upon the many speeches, podcasts and written Q&As where surely well-meaning writers give absolutely TERRIBLE advice. I first became aware of this subgenre when I dated a writer with a small degree of professional success. Some blog interviewed him and one of the questions was: “If you’re looking to break into the industry as a writer, when should you give up trying?”

His answer: “If you hear ‘No’ a few times, it’s probably not meant to be.”

Dude. You should stop writing when they close the lid. You can take your hands off the keyboard when the tight pull of rigor mortis necessarily yanks your fingers high above the keys.

I've helpfully worn my studious glasses for all these images. And the Warhol-inspired leggings recall the Warhol/McLuhan 15-minute fame allotment?

I’ve helpfully worn my studious glasses for all these images. And the Warhol-inspired leggings recall the Warhol/McLuhan 15-minute fame allotment?

Why would you ever discourage someone from pursuing a creative passion? Loads of schlock get published, recorded, made into TV shows every year because someone involved had sharp elbows; meanwhile, wonderful things can languish or die at the hands of passivity or overly harsh self-criticism.

Yes, "Nylon" soup.

Yes, “Nylon” soup.

There is a trope in the “creatives giving creatives” advice category in which those who have had some measure of success counsel aspirers:

“Can you do anything besides being an artist? Pursuing your creative passion is an incredibly hard career, and if you can be happy doing something else, do it instead.”

This is a load of self-serving hooey. Again, it’s carefully crafted advice designed to de-romanticize the sheer joy of writing.

People either say this because they’re a) parroting something they’ve heard others say (pro: this means they didn’t come up with such an inane and nonsensical concept themselves; con: if you’re a writer, not good to rely on clichés and lazily sensationalistic statements); or b) they want to scare you off to thin out the competition.

Pictured here with my timely cheerleader: Zorro Pumpkin, my greatest fan.

Pictured here with a timely cheerleader: Zorro Pumpkin, my greatest fan.

What these alleged advice-givers should be saying is that anybody who has even the fleeting thought of making a vocation or avocation of writing is supremely lucky. Don’t just ask that dream where it is going in order to hook up with it later; follow it!

Pursuing writing can be a gamble! (Selected photos exhibiting ever more tenuous connection to text.)

Pursuing writing can be a gamble! (Selected photos exhibiting ever more tenuous connection to text.)

Did you notice that even the most non-creative people in the world have Instagram and Twitter accounts? Though these people may not consciously figure themselves to be the second comings of Scheheradaze, they’re still thinking about how to write the best caption and update. They’re carefully monitoring and internalizing the way their audience responds to everything they say.

They’re being writers!

My sister had a hilarious friend in high school who was a bit of a wild woman. She’d drink and get rowdy, and her hungover antics were just as memorable as her drunken ones. One such time was at an otherwise staid National Honor Society brunch. Everyone was being quiet and reserved, but she was nattering on wildly with some combination of nervousness, lack of concern for event solemnity and residual BAC. The juxtaposition was hilarious, and I still laugh when I think of her inappropriate chatter. Anyway, she coined an indelible line when one of our fellow classmates pointedly stared at her in an attempt to get her to quiet down. She soldiered on:

“I’m just going to keep talking. You guys should jump if you hear something you can relate to.”

That is writing! While the practice draws all sorts of introverts and people hung up about what others think, the greatest happiness comes from creating material that pleases you and not bothering yourself with the chill winds of opprobrium (or worse, apathy).

Following in the family footsteps! This published work is my dad's.

Following in the family footsteps! This published work is my dad’s.

... Except it was his PhD dissertation so never mind. My dad, last week: "Have you given thought recently to giving med school another shot?"

… Except it was his PhD dissertation so never mind. My dad, last week: “Have you given thought recently to giving med school another shot?”

Do you remember that 2009 movie AMELIA, starring Hilary Swank as Ms. Earhart? No? Of course not. Nobody remembers this movie because it — like young Amelia — vanished without a trace shortly after its theatrical release and subsequent critical drubbing. I wasn’t a fan of it either, but I did enjoy the trailer wherein Swank-as-Earhart breathed brio into that real-life Earhart quote:

The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do … the process is its own reward!

So: Don’t give up! Confidence and perseverance are everything. And the process will be fun if you do it correctly.

You musn’t lose faith in yourself; creators who lack your verve but surpass your confidence will quickly stomp your crippled form while secretly rejoicing at your self-generated case of the yips!

I’m just going to keep writing. Feel free to jump in if you see something you can relate to.

"But at my back I always hear / Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near." -Andrew Marvell -or- "Lookin' at my Gucci, it's about that time." -Schoolly D Your choice. The photo curating on this topic is becoming tough. Thank goodness for eye-catching seasonal drug store displays!

“But at my back I always hear / Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near.” -Andrew Marvell
-or-
“Lookin’ at my Gucci, it’s about that time.” -Schoolly D
Your choice. The photo curating on this topic is becoming tough. Thank goodness for eye-catching seasonal drug store displays!

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