Friday, October 31, 2008

A Bit Unfair, Methinks?

From the new post at the Good Letters blog:
It’s hard to find people making bigger fools of themselves than those who blather about how they fill a piece of paper with something that came out their heads.
Yeah, of course there's a type of writer who's like this, but I'm getting tired of all those out there in the writing world who seem to me to spend an awful lot of time--shall we say blathering on (usually in written form)--about the kinds of writers they don't like, and lump all the others in with them.

Yes, as Harmon states accurately, idolization of one's writing output is not a good thing to do, and I do think it's a danger for anyone who writes, particularly those who write full-time. But, as Mark Terry pointed out recently on his blog, being a full-time writer is like auditioning for jobs all the time, and is about as stable as the stock market. That sort of constant evaluation is bound to make some people a wee little bit insecure from time to time (as someone who's had to adjust in the last few years from once-a-year employee evaluation to constant grading of what I write, I can certainly relate to the pressure of evaluation). Can't we have a bit of compassion and understanding here, as Lindsey Crittenden recently suggested?

And really, must those (such as Harmon) complaining about the types of writers they don't like work so hard to encourage negative stereotypes of full-time writers and lump all writing groups and writing communities in with them? Being a full-time writer and writing out of delight are not necessarily exclusive of one another, anymore than having a full-time job is likely to give one a good sense of perspective on life (as Harmon implies). (Furthermore, I wonder why we as a society see teachers, who are constantly sharing their opinions and creative output orally, as a self-effacing group, whereas writers are automatically seen as narcissistic for doing the same thing in a written form.)

I don't know, maybe I'm just blathering on. :) What do you guys think?

BTW, I found my writing mojo--it was under a pile of transcripts on my desk at school, of all places. Here's hoping it doesn't slither off again before my pile o' writing gets done this weekend...


Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for your thoughts here and thanks for pitching in there when I responded to Good Letters. I really enjoy AGH and am usually eagerly backing up his excellent insights, but I wasn't all in in the same way this time. Maybe it just hit too close to the bone and I'm not all that overtly Byronic, just a little aware of how hard the solitude and commitment can be. Good luck with your PhD.


Deborah Leiter said...

Meg, I think we're on the same page here. Have you read The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life by Vinita Hampton Wright? It's a fabulous book in which she has this lovely balanced perspective that creativity may or may not come with the classic "artistic temperament," but that all the same, creative gifts may well stir up deep emotions and can't be controlled, along with other likely side effects, such as potential dark times and the difficulties of much alone time, increased sensitivity, etc.

She encourages writers to seek communities where they can talk with other writers about these difficulties along with the joys of the creative life, and I'm all for that, so please, consider this blog such a place and stop by anytime.