Writing is About Saying No: An Announcement

dovesWriting is about saying no.

No to ideas. No to sentences. No to scenes and characters and themes that look good on the surface but just don’t fit into the heart of your story, no matter how hard you try to jam them through.

It means saying to yourself: no, you can’t leave with that story tonight because you have another one waiting for you at home. Put the drink down and stop flirting. Commit.

I have commitment issues – which, for a writer, means an innate inability to sit down and write a story until it’s finished. Lurking in the depths of my Microsoft Word files are many beginnings, a handful of middles, and very few endings.

Writing means never abandoning your story. Your story is your child. You feed your child and love your child and hold your child’s hand until it has grown enough to exist on its own in the big, scary world.

Writing is about choosing which ideas to turn away at the door because your mind can’t accommodate all of them. And if you do let them all in — succumbing to good intentions and the conventions of polite hospitality — you will starve, and your stories will starve, but only after they’ve eaten everything in the house, leaving nothing but bones on your table.

Writing is about waiting for the right idea. This means turning away ideas that might have the right faces but the wrong hearts.

But it doesn’t mean just saying no to the wrong ideas. It means saying yes to the right ones: yes, yes, forever yes. It means committing. It means sitting down, shutting up, and getting it done.

I am slowly but surely learning this. Ideas fly around my head like a swarm of doves, but I have only two hands to hold one.

I’ve been writing a novel, which mostly (for me) means saying no to poetry. And ultimately, it means that you will be seeing less of me on this blog. I will still write poetry, I’m sure, but not as much, and not nearly as often. Most of my nights for the next few months will be committed to writing — and finishing — this story.

I think I have found my right idea. It has a good face and a good heart, and though it doesn’t always say what I want it to say, it surprises me.

And for that, I think I love it.

Thank you, mywordpool audience, for reading and supporting me and my work. It’s an honor and a privilege to be on your computer screens — and one day, I hope to be on your bookshelves.

For now, I will keep Neil Gaiman’s words close to my roaming, wandering writer’s heart, and I encourage you to do the same:

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

20 thoughts on “Writing is About Saying No: An Announcement

  1. Ach! It’s contagious! First Alice, then me, and now you.
    Although I’m not writing a novel. Or a story. Or much poetry.
    Well. Not much of anything really.
    I’m just breathing. Just breathing. Catching my breath.
    Not sure what Alice is doing. Probably breathing too.
    Catching her breath.

    I have been toying with the idea of fiction.
    The idea of fiction. That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

    More power to you. More power to all writers who write.
    I wonder sometimes if I’m still a writer when I don’t write…

    Can’t wait to see what you do.
    Will definitely be on my shelf.

    1. Yes! It appears we are all taking mini-vacations. I’m not worried about it, though; we will all find our way back, in some way or another.

      It’s good to play around with the idea of fiction for a while. I did that for the past four years, and figure it’s time to buckle down and do the real thing. Scary stuff.

      You are most certainly a writer when you do not write. I haven’t touched my violin in a month, but I still consider myself a musician. At times it does feel like we are defined by our craft, and lose touch with our identity when we distance ourselves from that craft.

      But there’s nothing wrong with taking a deep breath every once in a while. It’s an essential step in the creative process. Only after we’ve walked away from the desk to live and breathe can we sit back down to make more art.

      Thank you, as always, for your kind words and your support. You are one of my very favorites in this WordPress family of ours.

  2. Go for it. Be sure to jot your ideas down for later, though. And when something comes to you, write it and keep it in a folder with the ideas. Divide your work up so you’re not doing the same thing every day. Stop from time to time to do your rewrites so you don’t end up looking at a 50,000 word manuscript that needs editing. In other words, don’t get overwhelmed by any one stage of the process. I sometimes take 6 months to finish a 1600 word essay, but I have at least 17 essays going at any one time, all in different stages of completion.
    I thought of you when I seen this. https://hchimo.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/free-poetry-contest-500-prize-deadline-feb-5-2016/

    1. Thank you for your blessing and your words of wisdom! I will do my best to keep this advice in mind and heart.

      And thanks for the contest recommendation, as well. I’ll definitely be checking out! 🙂



  3. Oh my gosh you just inspired me… I also have too many beginnings and middles and absolutely no endings in my stories…

    I always find myself with so many thoughts but at the end of the day I loose it all cause I was too busy spiraling around my head to sit down and type.

    Thank you… I feel like you held me in place, shook me and helped me stop spinning.

    1. Thank you for this wonderful comment! I’m so happy that this piece resonated with you.

      That is, I think, one of the greatest challenges to the creative mind: quieting the chaos of your everyday thoughts to get to the ones that really matter.

      Here’s to beginnings, middles, and (most importantly) endings 🙂 Best of luck with your stories!

Thoughts? I love those.

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