9 Years ago, I had a professor in undergrad. He taught fiction workshop classes. I had him as a professor for 3 straight years.
And in those 3 years, I realized I enjoyed writing fictionalized short stories about events that happened to me.
Mostly about 20 something year olds. Mostly messy stories about being drunk, having dreadlocks, trying drugs, being heart broken, and vomiting. (A lot of vomiting actually.)
And needless to say, I looked up to my professor.
He taught fiction workshops and film theory. He had short stories published.
He was doing what I wanted to do.
My senior year, I took an independent study with him.
In this class, he’d help me become a strong writer by developing the skills I had built over the last 3 years from taking his workshop classes.
It’s 6 weeks in to my one-on-one class, and he sits me down and says, “Gina… You have to stop writing weird stories.”
“Sorry… what?” I said.
“You have to stop writing such weird stories,” he reiterates. “And definitely stop having people puke in your stories. It’s gross. Nobody wants to read that.”
I didn’t know what to say. I’ve never been able to remember my response, which I’m pretty sure meant I was too sad and afraid to answer.
I do remember that I went to my apartment and cried.
Here was a skill I had worked on for the last 3 years, really felt I had improved and worked hard to make it strong.
Here was someone I looked up to, telling me that skill wasn’t good enough.
In fact, it wasn’t anything. I should stop doing it as far as he was concerned.
Here was, quite literally, my worst fear being verbalized by someone I respected an incredible amount.
So, I woke up the next morning, and I wrote a weird story about someone being told they couldn’t do what they loved, and the person being told’s initial reaction was to puke.
I couldn’t stop writing weird. I wouldn’t.
(And How To Do The Same Thing With Paper If You Like That Better)
When I fell in love with my fiancé, we had dated about 3 months. It was fast, but I fell hard.
After lots of past loves, I had created a checklist of things I was looking for:
#3 Tall and beardy (What can I say… I like ‘em hairy! Haha! In fact, now he’s got a “man bun” and I loooove it!)
#2 Loves me when I’m in sweatpants and my hair is a mess (He showed me this one about 6 months in, but I knew it was in him!)
#1 Won’t get mad at me when I have a panic attack. (You wouldn’t believe the assholes I had dated.) (And my fiancé? He would never get mad about that. Not once. And never will.)
Later, when I fell in love with the writing app Scrivener, it took 1 week, and that was because I was too scared to open it for the first 6 days.
When did it become OK for writers to call us lazy?
I know, I'm a writer, and so are you, so this might seem out of left field.
If it doesn't, it might be because you think I'm going to tell you that you're lazy because you don't write every day.
But this post is for the reader in you, and to writers who assume their readers are lazy.
So I’ll ask again, in a bit more detail: When did it become OK for us to accept the title of "lazy reader" and for writers to pander to us as if we were lazy?
Lately, I've been hearing a lot of people say they don't have time to start their book.
They have children out of school.
They have a lot of business conflicts.
They're working on personal changes.
They're schedule is just too busy.
I understand. I do.
When you're not used to writing, it can feel like there's never time to write.
It can feel like all you really need is to sit down, in peace and quiet, let your mind wander in free space, and get down to business with no interruptions.
Here's the blunt honest truth... that way of thinking is an idealized, utopic writing world that doesn't really exist for most people.
If you're waiting for the "perfect" time to write your book, you'll be waiting forever.
Which also means... your book will never get done.