Woe is You, Maybe, But WHOA is Me!

I read a piece in the New York Times today that I found during my nightly looksie of the Twittersphere. It was tucked away between political ramblings, San Diego Comic Con calm down and adorable doodles. It was about writers and their perspective on their body of work, and how there seems to be this constant malaise after pieces are done. According to this writer, at the end of the day, writers can’t even stand to look at what they’ve done, and there is this terrible feeling of disappointment.

And I found myself tipping my head and feeling really, really sad.

During my twenties, I owned the whole image of ‘serious’ writers as these downtrodden, perpetually anxious, sighing lot. “Writers are supposed to be miserable,” I was essentially told. “Happy writers aren’t good writers.” Being a writer meant, if the ‘classic’ examples were to be any indication, hating the process, loathing the words themselves and doing it because it was a calling. For if we did not, then who would? It all came off very masochistic. And not even in the good way.

If I had a time machine, I would go back to the twenty-something me, shake her a little and go, “Yeah, okay, that’s garbage. Stop looking at that shit and go write something you’ll love.”

And I don’t just mean the content itself, but the whole process. Write something you’ll love making. Write something you’ll look forward to looking at. Write something that you can hand off to a friend and be like, “Hey, man, I wrote this thing. All of these words came out of my brainstuffs!” Don’t look at what you’ve written as some sort of reminder of your mortality or some posse of gargoyle antagonists sitting on your shelf, waiting for you to go to sleep so they can whisper thoughts of fear and failure in your ear. Put party hats on your books. Sure, the early stuff probably is ripe with terrible prose, but laugh at it the way you would at baby pictures.

Yeah, dude, we’re all going to die (unless someone is here and willing to give me robot parts, because seriously, sign me the eff up). So if you’re going to take on something as your art and you are going to be spending at least a decent portion of your waking hours doing it, then maybe you ought to at least like it, right?

Fear and Loving in Fanfiction

So…the other day, I created a Tumblr. For fanfiction.

Let’s just go on ahead and get that out there. Take a deep breath. And now, we’ll diagram the sentence.

So: in which I create the air of “Man, have I got something to tell you.”
… : my chosen form of writing the action of scratching the back of my neck sheepishly.
The other day: this is a recent development.
I: that’s right, me.
Created: set up, somewhere far away, in the lands of This is Not Under my Name for Reals.
A Tumblr: a type of blog that’s a lot like Livejournal where people are very passionate about things they like.
. : another pause here. Another breath.
For fanfiction: for the purposes of writing and sharing online fictional works based on established characters from comic, cartoon, movie or television series.

This was how I started writing, you guys. The first writing I did was fanfiction. It was looking at other people’s playgrounds and jumping in the sandbox. It was picking up their dolls and shooting them out of cannons. It was painting on top of their pictures.

I am so happy. I haven’t felt so creatively vibrant in a long time. Even when doing NaNo, there was a certain degree of very, very, very hard work. This is fun. This is a playdate with myself. It’s changed everything for me.

I stopped doing fanfiction around early-ish college. At some point, someone somewhere – maybe just in my own head – said to me, “Okay, this has been fun, but if you’re going to be a Serious Writer(TM), you have to get into original work. Time to pack up the Barbies and get into the meatgrinder, kiddo.”

In fact, when I mentioned this whole development to someone recently, they asked me – with no malicious intent or anything – frankly, “So how are you going to monetize that?”

I couldn’t help balking. Because that’s not what this is about. This is just for me. This is a treat. This is a damn delight. And even if the stories themselves won’t see the light of publishing sunshine, the good lines and aspects of situations and adventures absolutely will. It’s dancing to a song on the radio. It’s making a sandwich. There’s no other goal to it than making something that wasn’t there and enjoying it.

When’s the last time you did something really crazy and fun? I recommend it.