Present, Part 2

I went to a workshop the other weekend on getting an agent. I wasn’t interested in getting an agent, so I didn’t think that it would apply to me. I was there for the networking? [I was so tired and out of it I couldn’t talk normally to another human being, go figure.]

Anyway, plot twist, it did apply to me.

There, in a too air-conditioned library conference room with high ceilings and fluorescent lighting, I listened in rapt attention.

I don’t know how to describe it, exactly—but by breaking down in the most granular, specific way the costs and profits of being a writer, the presenter made one thing clear:

Your writing has value. My writing has value. Ironically, breaking it down into nickels, dimes and two dollar bills didn’t cheapen my writing, didn’t make it less valuable—quite the opposite.

“What do you write?”

When people ask me about my writing, I always shrug and reply, “You know, I blog and stuff.”

And stuff.

You know me—I dabble. I dip one toe gingerly into a sea of words, close my laptop and then amble leisurely to my hot yoga class, green juice in hand.

Um, have you ever had someone call you out on your bullshit? I wouldn’t recommend it, but it happened to me recently. I felt like I was completely vulnerable and exposed and on the edge of tears, but there was no reason for me to pretend that I don’t care.

Trauma is tricky, tricky.


By avoiding the commercial and professional side of writing—you know, the part where you actually get paid—I conveniently avoided assigning value to my work. I write. So what?

I’ve been living in this contradiction of pretending that my writing means nothing while giving it absolutely everything. I’ve held nothing back. There’s nothing I haven’t given, nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice.

At this point, this feels less like some inherent nobility of spirit and more like the lingering effects of childhood trauma: This idea that if I sacrifice myself, then I will be worthy. It’s almost like trying to prove that you deserve to exist by pretending not to exist at all.

It’s hard for me to articulate just how deep this goes for me, but that’s what writing is, right, trying to make explicit the very thing that resists explication.

I gotta be honest—you can run from your trauma all you want, but it will fucking come for you eventually. It will pound down your door at 2am in the morning and refuse to leave until you face it.

I guess I’m just trying to buy more time.


I listened to a podcast episode about writing with Dan Harmon and Jessica Gao because the title of the episode was “I hate writing, I love having written” (throwback to earlier post).

I don’t agree with this sentiment, per se.

One of the underreported side effects of joining a writer’s co-op is that you end up talking about writing—like, a lot. Soooooooo much talking (so much writing too though, so it’s all good). Anyway, it came up in one of our discussions that the people in my little discussion group didn’t exactly love the process of writing.

I had heard this statement before (attributed to Dorothy Parker), but now, here it was looking me in the face.

Sometimes, I can get a little intense (okay, maybe a lot of the time), and I just wanted to grab someone (consensually) by the shirt lapels and shake them while looking deeply into their eyes and asking, “But, why???”

What in the Flannery O’Connor is the point of writing if you don’t like it, if it doesn’t bring you some kind of joy?

[Just to clarify—I didn’t do this. No one was grabbed or otherwise harassed in the course of writing this post, future actions not guaranteed.]

You know when you just go down that question rabbit hole, trying to figure out why people do the things that they do, particularly when those things (writing) are apparently no more appealing than sitting at the DMV or going to the dentist for a root canal. Granted, the sample size was tiny, just three people, all male.

Don’t get me wrong.

I understand pain (so do my editors, har har, but that’s probably a post for a different day). I’ve tortured myself into writing many a piece, staying up until the crack of dawn to crack open what the story is about, what it’s REALLY about.

Not what I think it’s about.

There’s that inevitable part of writing where you bang your head against the wall or desk or plaster head cast of Plato, where everything hurts and you pray for death because death would be better than actually having to write this thing I’m trying to write.

The stakes feel like life or death. Maybe they are.

Writing is pain. Life is pain. But sometimes it can be pure joy.

In the podcast, Harmon talked about how crucial his blogging had been to his writing and how he wanted to get back into writing everyday—because it was addictive (addictions are enjoyable, right?)

Can writing be so painful you would rather be eaten alive by a horde of angry fire ants you just spoiled GOT for? Hell yeah.

But also, writing is fun—fight me.