Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Guest Post: Keep On Keeping On

Today is a guest post from one of my fellow cohorts in tale-weaving, 
from the Y5 - my writer's group that I am always mentioning here. 
Thanks to Darlene for the post ~ Enjoy!

 Hi. I’m an unknown, regular-Jane writer.
Well, I think I’m a writer. I write stuff. But I’m not that good.
I can’t write poetry—rhyming makes me twitch and free verse confuses me with its murky meaning.
I hate writing short stories—too much pressure to pack one succinct meaning into a few hundred words without being over/under descriptive.
I don’t do song lyrics—again with the rhyming, and I’m not that catchy.
Books… novels… well, that’s my niche, but again, not very good there either, according to all the rejection letters.
In my novels, I’m not witty. I’m not descriptive. I’m not quotable. I’m not sarcastic. I’m not sappy. I’m not dramatic. I don’t write cursing or sex scenes. I don’t have one simple thought. I don’t have a unique writing style. I don’t have spectacular grammar.
So… Am I a writer? I write, but does it count if it’s all crap?
Because, you see, I’ve submitted a countless number of times to publishers. Want to know how many rejections? Same countless number. Query letter? It stinks. Word count? Fifty-thousand over the maximum number for my genre. First few pages? Unclear and boring.
If you think you know failure, you’ve yet to meet me.
But still, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m not a bitter person. Well, not yet. And I still find joy in writing. Want to know my secret? It’s so simple you might never have thought about it even though I guarantee you have it too. Just in case, I’ll go ahead and state the obvious.
Are you ready? Here it is: I write for me. No one else. I don’t write to get critiqued or published or patted on the back or have eyes bug out at me. My stories are places that I have complete reign over, where nothing happens—good or bad—without my knowledge. It’s riveting, that kind of control, when this world—the “real” world?—is so unpredictable.
The characters in my head are mine, aspects of people that I’ve observed, or who I wish I could become for just a day. They creep into my head, demanding names and space in a document. They won’t leave me alone until I’ve written them proper. Ever felt like that? Strangely, without them, I would be crazier than I am.
Because it’s during the tough, the rough, the rowdy, the complicated, the wearying, the crumbling times in my life that I write them. My characters. My stories that transport me away to somewhere, not necessarily better, but different. A break from reality. It’s nice. It’s my outlet, a way to dump everything that I’m feeling into words that wind and wrap themselves into a scraggly bow on top the present that I call a book.
Because the real world influences what I’m writing, it makes living here even more exciting. I constantly see something or think something and realize, “Oh! That relates perfectly to my plot!” or “That would fix about, eh, fourteen problems” or “If my main character went through this, how would she react?” I promptly whisk out my handy dandy turquoise paged notebook and scribble manically, no matter where I am—because if I don’t jot it down, it’ll be gone—and smile to myself, utterly pleased.  
The best thing about writing for me, though, is that I’m not afraid to try and fail. Again and again, but that’s the vicious cycle of writing. Keep going and drafting and editing until you give up. Hopefully you’ll hit success somewhere along the way.
So not only does my writing benefit my sanity, it also improves my quality of living. Okay, maybe I am a bit dramatic.
But for real. The ultimate Storyteller, God gave me an imagination that churns out fantastical ideas, inflicted me with fingers made for typing, and taught me so see life as a story.
I like to think it’s because I will be published someday. But if not, I’ve come to accept that writing is for me. And that’s good enough for me to keep on keeping on.

Darlene Griffin is a broke college student studying English. She hopes to take over the world with her writing group, the Y5, by spreading meaningful, skillfully written stories that change her readers. She also has a pet beta fish named Errol, but that’s irrelevant.


  1. Encouraging post, Darlene! It's so easy to lose perspective and begin to think it *is* all about the request rates and the positive reviews. I'm not yet sure myself how to find the balance between writing only for myself and writing for an audience--I do think the gift of writing is meant to be shared, but that shouldn't mean losing oneself in the process. :-)

    One of my favorite fantasy authors, Lian Hearn, has a quote on her site that sort of sums up how I feel about it: "But now I have to send it out into the world. It is no longer only mine. Other people will read it. What will they think of it? Will the spell that was so strong for me work on them too? I miss the days when I was alone with my characters and no one else knew them except me."

  2. I love what you've written here...I used to get so depressed hoping and trying to write the right queries etc, now I know that I write for myself and for those I love. It won't stop me trying to get that query letter right one day and hoping for publication one day...but it's no longer the 'be all and end all'.
    It's okay, my writing is mine, and if it gets shared one day then great. I put one book on Kindle, but now I'm terrified people might actually buy it and not like it! It's weird how I still worry about it even though the few who've bought it like it!
    Now I write because I love to...but that doesn't stop me hoping!