What we talk about [to ourselves] when we talk about writing*
Have you ever said any of these things to yourself?
“I did the revision which improved the tightness but muddled the arc.” “I loved the first draft but must say that even though this is painful, the soon-to-be finished product in the form of [fill in the blank: essay, article, story, poem, book, etc] will be at a level I never understood before or thought I was capable of writing.” “Maybe my piece is a combination of depth and commercial.” “It got accepted on the first try at my dream market.” “It got rejected. But I got a really positive rejection from the editor.” “I never heard back.” “Oh my God, s/he called/emailed/twittered me right back!” “I love writing; I can’t not write.” “I hate writing; I can’t not write.” “My baby finally found a home.” “That editor doesn’t understand my take; s/he’s been at their job too long and is probably a frustrated writer at heart.” “This is what I’m meant to do…no matter what: Write.” “I needed a Xanax before workshop.” “What’s wrong with writing in second person, or in present tense?” “I write at the same time every day.” “I write 2 pages a day.” “I write 500 words a day.” “I hate this fucking manuscript.” “I haven’t written in 3 weeks.” “He’s/she’s jealous.” “I’m jealous.” “I can’t believe I was ever a social worker/therapist [fill in your own blank].” “I think I should go back to being a social worker/therapist [fill in your own blank].” “I was always meant to do this; it’s why I’m here.” “WTF?” “This is supposed to be fun–right?”
Some of these things I’ve said to myself and others I’ve heard said. I have had other careers but, to be honest, this writing involves the most self-talk I’ve ever heard of (no pun intended, at all). Is that just a personality thing, or what? What about you? What do you talk to yourself about when you talk about writing?
*Hat tip to one of my favorites, Raymond Carver.
First appeared in 2010.