The Romantic Ideal of Writing
The traditional writing life: you write a novel, submit it to an agent, it gets sold to a good publishing house and they do a lot of work to market you. Ads in print publications, a book tour, readings and signings galore. If you are a literary type, you might take a job teaching writing and/or English at a university. If you're a genre type, then you go home and write your next book. Life is good.
The contemporary writing life: you write a novel, submit it to an agent, wait until your as-yet-unborn grandchild grows up and has children of her own, and then you finally get a no from the agent. So you find a small publisher for your novel, or publish it yourself. Nobody does the slightest thing to market you, so you tend a blog, you have a social media presence, and when your book is ready to be released you make a book trailer to put up on You Tube. You realize that the income from your beloved novel is going to amount to a mere pittance and so you write an Ebook covering everything you know about writing and you begin a coaching program, too. You even consider teaching a teleclass or webinar, because nobody's been hired for a university position teaching writing since the Clinton administration. Life is good, but far, far different than you expected.
The traditional writing life is on life-support, if it exists at all anymore. But for me, it has existed in my mind as the romantic ideal of writing for years. And even though I've embraced blogging and social media with gusto, still part of me yearned to achieve a traditional writing life. Because, wouldn't it be nice to do nothing but write novels all day? I'd be happy if I could split my time between writing novels and blogging, popping the occasional chocolate in my mouth from time to time.
But I can't. And up until last week, when my coach called me out on this little thought that was stuck in my head, I didn't even realize it. (This is why coaches are so great and why the whole coaching industry sprang up overnight.) I had earnestly been explaining to her why I had yet again put off writing the Ebook that I started last December. And after some digging and poking about, she managed to get me to uncover where I was stuck. And let me just say, I wasn't only stuck, I was absolutely mired in this romantic ideal of writing, certain it would happen for me any day now and I wouldn't have to write the Ebook or ponder teleclasses (for a person who doesn't much like talking on the phone, the idea of conducting teleclasses is terrifying), or do anything differently from what I'm doing today.
But it is a different world, as we all know by now. And different worlds call for different strategies. All this is by way of saying that I am going to start working on my Ebook this week, I am, I am, I am. Just as soon as I get my office that I started six months ago finished…No, in truth, my session with my coach transformed my thinking and cleared enough crap out of the way that I've started taking notes and getting excited about the Ebook again. And let me just say it again, that is why coaching is so great.
What about you? Is there something you are ignoring that you should be doing? Are you holding onto an outdated romantic ideal of writing?
***Do you need help clearing out romantic ideals of writing or other issues? Email me and let's discuss coaching. Your wonderful contemporary writing career is waiting. Or check out my page about coaching packages and then email me.
0 thoughts on “The Romantic Ideal of Writing”
Yup! I love the romantic ideal of writing. I grew up believing in it. It’s not until the last year or two that I began to understand what’s truly involved. I’m thankful I learned so much during my web developer days, because it’s sure coming in handy now.
What should I be doing? I should be working on the second draft of my novel. I think I’m three or four chapters in. It’s going beautifully, but I just can’t find time to write on it! I’m moving in less than a month and I can barely find time to clear out my stuff, let alone indulge in intensive novel writing. 🙁 In May I will start again!
But the biggest thing I am ignoring is starting a proper journal. My writing buddy is putting together a ‘pack’ for me to take with me on my travels, which she hopes will get me started.
So both ‘ignored’ items are justified and I will return to them in due course. Don’t I have procrastination down to a fine art?
I have such a hard time putting in the necessary hours at the keyboard. It’s drudgery–it’s absolute drudgery! Thus far, I have three unpublished novels, another in the works, and a couple of short stories that sneaked through. I’ve tried oil painting. I’ve tried music. If I wasn’t infected with this writing bug, if I could do anything else, I would. It’s the same as my Hard-shelled Baptist father describe being called to preach: it’ll squeeze gallons of tears from you, it’ll knock you to your knees, it’ll chase you into the woods and make you scream. But then . . . my father went to heaven. If that comes with writing, I’m missing that part.
Good lord, the romantic ideal version of writing has been quite comfy in my head since I was a child.
And everyone I know has some kind of coach, be it career, organization, SEO or otherwise. It honestly feels like I’m missing out on something, because I could expand my social circle as much as I’d like, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be able to find someone who’d be willing to listen and know my specific area let alone want to sit me down and tell me to shut up and do it. My first writing group meeting is tomorrow night, so it’ll be nice to meet a new set of people who actually share my interests.
I’d claim a lot of my productivity depends on atmosphere, and that I don’t have the right kind where I am. Of course, I don’t bother trying to really find it either. :/
J.D. Frost, Glad you haven’t reached the going to heaven part yet, either. And when the writing bug hits, it is hard to ignore, isn’t it? Do you ever get into the writing flow so that it doesn’t feel like drudgery?
Jessica, What a grand procrastinator you are! And boy do I hear you about not finding time to clear out stuff–I am still working on organizing my office and it has been months.
Jacki, I think many of us have the romantic ideal of writing ingrained in our heads. I hope your writing group works out–I have a weekly one that I attend and I love it. I guess I need a lot of support, given that I have a writing group, a coach, an acupuncturist…
I know.. I know before anyone says anything! This is going to be such a Zen answer!
Yes, I procrastinate. Yes I struggle. Yes I am often totally embroiled in the wonderful magic of it all. Like the smell of the ink from my fountain pen that I use to take notes. I could use a pencil or a ball-point, it would be easier to write with, but where is the magic in that?
If I had to do it all again. I wouldn’t choose for it to be any other way! It’s simply magic even when it all feels such a slog. I endeavour to connect with everything, even the mundane. It is the essence of connection though, not the object of that connection. yes, writing seems to enhance the essence. 🙂
Since I was a little girl I pictured myself dashing out novels and living a simple but satisfying life. My romantic notions came from reading to many Bronte sisters and Jane Austen novels.
Needless to say, my life now is completely different…there are no books in the book store and there is little time to write the great novel. I have a full time job in financial sales with many evening appointments, and freelance on the side. Most of my articles have been business/real estate related because of my profession, not because I’m passionate about the subject matter. I also have a blog, no sorry – make that two blogs, and am fleshing out an ebook in my “spare time.”
For me, embracing the modern version of the writer’s life has meant I now dream of writing and finishing (I must have 5 unfinished manuscripts by now) a non-fiction book – my dreams of writing fiction are long gone.
Derek, We love your Zen answers and the way you get lost in the pure essence of things!
Angela, Noooooo! It is never too late to recapture dreams,especially when it comes to writing. Maybe if you finish one of those Ebooks you’ll have time…
Patty - Why Not Start Now?
This one made me chuckle, Charlotte. I’ve noticed we creatives have so many romantic notions, and maybe we think we’ve put them aside but the story keeps appearing. Some version of hitting it big and then the rest is cush. My fantasies have included moving to NYC (which I did) and making it big on B’way (which I didn’t), and getting a PhD and teaching theatre at a university (neither of which I did). But the funny thing is after I shifted over and got my master’s in counseling, I did teach part time for many years at a university, and that experience opened my eyes and totally washed away any lingering romantic notions I had about academia. So I think I’m pretty present in the world as it is today. Except for the E-Book thing. Uh! I rail against it…everybody’s doing it, doing it, doing it. There must be another way!
Patty, Even teaching only at a distance program with a major university has convinced me I’m not cut out for academia, thank god. But I still some days think I’d like to get my Phd. Another romantic notion that is best to let go! I don’t mind the Ebook thing so much as the teleclass thing. I hate talking on the phone anyway, so the idea of a class on the phone…