This sentence doesn’t know where it’s going. This sentence feels pretentious. This sentence doesn’t like serifs but knows it’s trapped. This sentence feels lucky but guilty. This sentence is retired.
After wanting to leave Corporate America for more than fifteen years, I feel suddenly overwhelmed that I have done it – the dog that caught the bus—now what? I was ready for it. I was not ready for it.
At one point – before banking – before B-school – I was an English major. And it was assumed that if anyone might produce the Great American Novel in my family, it would be me. I actually wrote a couple of books in my twenties, but they needed a lot of work which I was unwilling to invest at the time. Meanwhile, my spouse found a new lease on life as a writer and gravitated to it full time when our children came along. She started it with a discipline that she developed into a craft and thirty plus books later, there’s no longer any doubt who is the writer in the family. And yet .. and yet.. the urge is still there for me.
So through this blog, I hope to find that voice I might have had – might still have – with no silly excuses about making a living to get in the way. Once each year at Christmas, I have successfully shared insights that people find worth reading. It might not be through the Great American Novel, but when was the last time we read one of those anyway? (That seems like an excellent topic for a future blog, note to self.)
The only problem I’ve had is despite wanting to be a writer until I was 25, and majoring in English, and discussing the idea and the process and other writers at length with my parents – both of whom were experts (one had a PhD and the other a Masters degree in Lit-ra-ture) – when it actually comes to putting words on the page, the muse often fails me. This is where all fledgling writers have to put up or shut up. As my award-winning novelist spouse points out, only 2% of people with ideas in their heads actually put them on paper. And only 2% of those finish the book. And roughly only 2% of those find a publisher to put it into that world – that latter statistic much higher now in this self-publishing age. But still – the odds of going from this random sentence to putting it in front a future audience are not high.
As I said, I managed to crank out an entire trilogy back in the ‘80s (feminist fantasy, kind of like Joanna Russ meets JK Rowling… I think there might have been dragons in it, there definitely was magic). But I did not find the discipline that was required to make it well written and interesting. I also gained an incredible respect for all writers who get it on the paper, improve it through intelligent pruning and self-editing, and then suffer through the feedback and editing suggestions of others, not to mention the mechanics of getting it into print. Whenever I think about writing, I find myself thinking quite often about spreadsheets which don’t yawn with boredom or ask why there isn’t more ____ (fill in the blank as you wish, more sex, more politics, more action, more humor, more of Something Else).
All writers have that urge to share precious pearls of wisdom. And also writers share the panic and fear that it will be uninteresting. It didn’t stop Faulkner or Jackie Collins or Karin Kallmaker. So it can’t stop me!
We had a rather infamous AP English teacher in high school – Larry Frazier – (we called him Jesus because of the beard and the way he preached rather than taught). He gave us the best Two Rules for Writing ever articulated.
Rule #1: Attach Seat to Chair
Rule #2: Begin Writing
Heaven knows, after thirty years at a large bureaucratic financial institution like Bank of America, I am a Rule Follower. So no more excuses. Forward type!