Challenging the writer…

1-1234699141PRLFI haven’t written in a while because recently a good friend rocked my world. I wish the format had been a stash of green backs lovingly placed on my table before myself with the instructions, “spend it on travel and luxuries.”

Alas, no.

My friend placed on the altar before me an honest review.


I have a book that I’ve been sending out to agents and while the rejections I have coming back have been rather good, they have still been, rejections.

So I finally asked said friend, to read it and get back to me.

A little on this friend. She and I are writing friends. A writing friend is like a regular friend, only at the end of catching up on families, feelings and recent insights to self-growth, the conversation moves to the written word. To the world of writing. Craft. Simile. Metaphor. Inspiration. Despair. The pit of madness with into which we float about desperately clinging to any root or branch that may ground us for even the slightest of moments.

You know, writing stuff.

This writer friend of mine has the soul of a poet. I envy that. I might have a dash of poetry in my soul, but poet I am not. She writes thoughtfully, rolling each word, each idea around for the heft of it, the feel of it. She looks for the beauty, the destruction and rebirth in each sentence she writes.

In contrast I’m haphazard in my attempts. ADD in my words, quick without focus sometimes, trying to find truth in humor and in a quick moment at midnight.

Our variances, her ability to see the world from a completely different space than I do is what I’ve always loved about her insight into my own writing. She read my book in a week and gave me eleven pages of notes.

Of course, I was a little sick and a little hopped up on Mucinex and apparently a little pms, and upon being handed the exact thing I asked for…shit, it caused me to crash head first into the process I like to call: the writer deals with criticism.

First. I cry.

My wonderful friend said that the book read because of my prose and my ability to be a good writer. But it needed work.

I cried.

She pointed out the areas where the disconnect was found.

I gave up.

I GIVE up.

(My writing rejection process is something akin to the stages of grieving.)

First I cry and feel like I’m being attacked. Then I get defensive. What do you know about it? Fine, I won’t write another word because I suck. Defense moves into self-loathing pretty quickly. I’m the worst writer in the world. Why do I even try this shit? Which gives way to depression and a pity party for one. I’ll just go to sleep right here. Which gives way to resignation. I give up and that’s fine, I’m going to go get a job at a bank tomorrow or a fast food joint or go back to a coffee shop because I’m not qualified to do anything else.

Then all of the emotions become a theoretical ball of sticky messiness that I roll around and around until the sticky stuff gets stuck in my hair and not even peanut butter will get it out.

I’m a loser as a writer, it doesn’t even matter if I give up. The only person who knows I’m writing anyway is my mom and this isn’t even a career it’s not even a job it’s just this thing I like to do and can you call something a career if it’s all you’ve ever done or wanted but you don’t get paid for it and you don’t have a degree saying you can do it and it doesn’t bring money into the household in order to keep the lights on and what does it matter anyway because this is stupid and I give up and it’s not fun anymore.




I wake up or get so wrapped up in the pity party that I see it, how to make it better. How to change it. How to be accountable for my work and how to tighten the straps.

And the next thing I know I’m writing, rewriting and it’s funny and it’s fun and I see how to make it more dramatic and better and richer…

And I love my friend who gave me this much-needed kick in the karmic butt.

Sometimes, it all comes down to being challenged. Writing is such a lonely pursuit and I know personally, I attempt this thing behind closed doors so often that in certain ways, I forget to invite a few friends in to see what’s going on. I become complacent with my work and I don’t challenge myself.

So to have a friend with a poetic soul who reminds me not to be complacent in my own journey or with my own voice for that matter, is another component to writing. To have someone gently challenge your voice and your words and to, perhaps, point out that you have more anima to you than you are applying to your craft, well.

It’s good to let challenges in. I need to remember that, most of the time, all of the time, it makes my work better. It makes me better.

Thank you, Sharli!

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