Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spitting Out the Unnecessaries

Sometimes, writing is much like seeded grapes. You keep the good part and throw out the bitter seeds that you don't want or need.

Nasty buggers, those seeds.

When choosing what to throw out of your writing life, whether it be within a story or even in your "network" of writer-ish types, bear one thing in mind. You can't do everything for everyone, nor can you include every little thing. Sure helping people is great, doing things with other writers is great, but egads, it's draining.

I took a good, hard look at myself this morning and I don't even like what I see. There is absolutely no color in my face what-so-ever, the circles under my eyes seem to have doubled (even for a chick with chronic insomnia), and I have lost so much weight it's scary. Oh yes, I can count my ribs and cut people with my hip bones. Not good at all. I was sitting comfortably at about a buck forty (women all over are gasping in shame that someone told their weight on the evil interwebz) and I'm down almost thirty pounds from that. Hell, I feel unhealthy.

My point?

We writers try so hard to spread ourselves out--but a too thin layer of cheese on any cracker is useless. Might as well just let it slide off, yes?

The life of a writer, especially one just starting in the publishing business, can be very isolating. More and more time gets spent on editing, writing new sections, rewriting this or that, reading for one writer friend, reading for another, trying to make sure you talk to everyone in the biz you know a few times a week at least. The writer forgets what the sun looks like, forgets what he or she looks like, what outside smells like. They forget to eat (just coffee and a cigarette, please!), forget to call their mother on her birthday, forget to pick up bread for lunch. Got to churn out more words.

We're not machines, okay guys? Yes, setting goals is great. As long as they are realistic goals and one doesn't forget to take care of themselves. You can't write shit if you're dead.

Writing needn't be an obsession. It should be fun, should be something you enjoy doing as much as you desire to do it. If it becomes a chore, what you put out turns to crap.

Writing crap is okay--after all there is nothing you can't fix and sometimes you have to write crap because it just won't leave you alone. But if it gets to the point of burning yourself out, I think it's time to reassess exactly what you are doing. No one's chosen career should kill them. And if you only put out crappy writing, you need to take a look at what caused the change and get back to you. A tired, burnt-out writer can't write for themselves, much less socialize with others and help them out.

Which brings us full circle.

How many of your "writer" friends only talk to you when they want help with something? Thankfully, this has happened very few times to me, and I've had no problem cutting them the fuck out of my circle of writerly friends. If I hadn't, I'd be in worse shape than I am now. This is taxing, guys. If all you do is take and take and take, with no reciprocal return for whom you take from, you are only hurting yourself in the long run. We should help each other, not be selfish and only get what we can out of each other. This business is tough enough and draining enough without selfishness added to the mix. Eventually, the takers will have taken all they can get from every writer whose path they have crossed and there will be no one to help them when they really need it.

And if you are one of those that only take, I say this. Shame on you, asshole.

Peace & Love, y'all


  1. *cheers*

    Effie hon, you are completely right. Not only is this a good reminder for those of us who give too much but those of us who don't give enough back.

  2. @ Shadow: Yup. There are, sadly, a lot of writers who suffer from the same self-entitlement that I abhor in all people. I tell my writer friends all the time; "You have to take care of you first." but I seem to have failed to do so myself. Tis why I posted about it. We have to remember that writing isn't everything--even when we think it is.

  3. Hey sweets! I hope you're feeling better soon. I'm finally at the point where I'm coming to an even balance with writing and my RL. You're right, and it became very taxing and lonely. But now it's better. Hopefully soon, it will all get evened out, for me and for you!

    Take care of yourself and eat a sandwich!

  4. Excellent post, Effie. I feel like I've spread myself to thin the past few months--I'm run down a lot, even when I shouldn't be tired, I am. And I've had to let a few writer friends loose, because there are some annoying take-take-takers who leach so much time I have little of my own time left, or the energy to use it.
    Gain some weight. Treat yourself well.

  5. Wonderful post, Effie. Please, please remember to eat. And you know what? You can say no when writer friends ask you to read this or that, and you are allowed to take a break from your own words now and then. You have to take care of you first, health and writing wise.

    If that means unplugging from the net for a few days, just to recharge, give yourself the freedom to do so. If that means staying away from forums, etc., to work on your own words, or your own life, go ahead.

    And with respect to people who only take, there are always people like that in every business. It’s unavoidable, unfortunately, and out of your control. The only thing you can do is control how you deal (or not deal) with them.

    But be good to yourself, first and foremost. (And eat.)


  6. I'm mostly fine--for the most part I've cut the takers from my circle. This was mostly for people who have yet to do so. It's okay to just cut people off. If they drain you, it's in your own best interest to say "Go to hell!" My main thing is remembering to eat... and I know a certain redhead who has this problem herself if I remember correctly. ;) I just know so many people who forget about themselves in the process of trying to get published and network. I didn't realize I'd gotten so run down, and when I got up and saw what I looked like (I tend to not look in the mirror for weeks at a time), I realized how bad I'd gotten--and that I tell people all the time to make time for themselves and I'd not practiced what I preach. This is my conscious effort to make other writers aware too, I suppose.

    I love you guys. :) Y'all are great.

  7. This is a great post, Effie.

    It's easy to get swept up in writing, but honestly, I spend more time on writer's forums and facebook, other people's blogs, my own blog, etc. than I do actually writing.

    I've recently limited the amount of time I spend on the computer. It's amazing how much cleaner my house is and how much fun I have going out in real life with my husband and friends when I pull myself away from this machine. I'm addicted to my laptop, I think.

    I can't say that I feel anyone has really drained me. I notice who is a me me me person and I try to not get too involved with those people.

    I need to borrow your ability to forget to eat and give you my weakness for munching.

  8. Eat, sweetie. And as you said in so many words, you have to trust yourself.

    You give plenty on our site. And, yes. Take care of yourself. We adore you.


  9. Do take care of you. It is not good to drop so much weight. Good article.

    "You can't write shit if you're dead." Too true. Well said. :)

  10. Thanks guys. It's coming. I've picked up about four or five pounds (it seems harder to gain weight), but I'm working at it.