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Newton's Third Law -- for Writers

Friday, November 04, 2005
Newton's Third Law also applies to writers: For every amazing writer's high, there inevitably will be a corresponding writer's low -- a moment when you come down with such a bang that you want to hit Monster.com to search for alternative careers. I'm on the downswing of the writer's pendulum right now and it's the pits -- the result of too much stress and too little sleep. (And the downside of writing a sleep book is that you become acutely aware of why you're feeling so rotten as a result of losing all that sleep. Argh.) Anyway, I'm sure I'll be out of my funk shortly. Just typing this is making me feel better.

But I really think writers' guides should do a better job of telling writers about the rollercoaster ride of the writing life. It's one of the things they tend to skim over -- just like the 1980s baby books used to sidestep the truth about postpartum. The bad days as a writer can be pretty bad, but you're not supposed to talk about them. You're just supposed to be happy to have the opportunity to write (which, of course, we writers are most of the time). That's why we're writers, after all. But being given the message that you're not supposed to talk about the bad days can leave you feeling pretty isolated, just like the moms of the 1960s and 1970s felt, when they were pressured to "just enjoy that new baby" and to stop focusing on any negative feelings they might be experiencing if they were hit with the postpartum blues or anything darker.

In many ways, writers need to experience the collective empowerment that has given mothers the courage to speak up about the darker side of motherhood. They also need to realize that, like mothers, they are creators and nurturers (in their case, they give birth to ideas and nurture those ideas along). This makes them essential to the publishing process and, as such, they deserve to be treated with respect. But far too many writers lack that respect and sell themselves short, not valuing the work they do -- work that can't be replicated in exactly the same way by any machine or even any other human being.

Anyway, this "quick little post" has turned into a bit of a writers' manifesto! It didn't start out that way at all. I guess I had more to say than I thought I did when I sat down at my keyboard this morning. It's funny how that happens sometimes. You let your creative spirit loose and it takes you on a surprising journey.

And you know what? I'm feeling a whole lot better. Thanks for listening.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:52 AM