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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Why we write

Why do we write?

When things are going really well, I can come up with a zillion reasons why I write. When things aren't going so well, I stammer and stutter. I pause. Usually a very pregnant pause.

I worry if I've only got one book in me. Now, on the surface this is really pretty humorous. I've written six complete manuscripts and each is different from the other. I've completely revised three of them. So, I should know that I have more than one book in me.

Yet when I strip everything away and when I'm in the middle of creating a new work, I worry that that one is the only one in me that will be any good.

I'm tired. I shouldn't be blogging. I'm sick. And I've surpassed frustration.

I know what I want to write. Why is it so hard to find people who will read my work and help me write what I want to write better? Most want to tell me how to write the way they'd write it if they were to write it. That's not what I want or need to hear. I want to know how to make my characters better. My story better. Not shred it and write your image of it.

I have a dear friend who wants me to write funny stories. Okay, except it's hard to write 300 pages of funny. Very few people can do it and even fewer can do it well.

Chick lit and hen lit are supposed to have a certain voice. There's supposed to be humor in them. But out of all the chick/hen lit books I've read, most don't do several hundred pages of funny. There are humorous moments, but there are serious moments, too. Kind of like life.

There's supposed to be this kick a** attitude. But really, none of them carry it all the way through. When your heart has been broken, or grandchild is in the hospital fighting for his or her life, no one has a kick a** attitude.

So here's the deal. My protags are over 40. They've been knocked down a few times. And guess what? If they don't get knocked down a few times in the story there is no story. So, they're going to have to struggle. How can all their struggles be funny?

They can't. Or at least in anything I write, they can't.

So when my readers tell me to be funny. I want to scream. When my readers get hung up on the teeny, tiny, I want to scream. When they tell me a character can't be like that, it doesn't do me any good. Tell me what bothers you and then I can either adjust it so it comes across as I meant it to come across. But the truth is, I love my characters. They're real to me. If you, the early reader, sees something that makes you strongly dislike that character, I need to know.

But if that trait is there, it's there for a reason. Don't tell me to get rid of it. Tell me how you perceive it and give me the option of revising it so you can see the same layers and complexities that I see.

Because anything less than that only makes me wonder why in the hell I'm writing anyway. And today, over something so minor, I'm wondering just that. Why in the hell am I writing?

But it's not just today, it's an accumilation of friends letting me know that I'm not writing the type of story they want me to write. They want me funnier. They don't want me to dig so deeply into my characters. They want them to be...dare I say it...shallow.

Happy hen lit reading.

posted by Jody Pryor @ Wednesday, July 06, 2005


  1. At Wednesday, July 06, 2005, Blogger Kathy Holmes said…

    Excellent post, Jody, and I agree with you 100%. I have often wanted somebody to help me improve my writing - not instruct me on writing the way they write. The good news is, over time, I have improved my writing and continue to improve my writing - without them. We just have to remind ourselves sometimes to shut out the voices and listen to ourselves. :)


  2. At Wednesday, July 06, 2005, Anonymous mhgibson said…

    It really is like anything else...practice makes perfect. I think the more you write, the better you get at it. I mean, I've played the piano most of my life and I'm not that great at it...why? 'Cause I don't practice anymore. Writing is the same way. If you exercise that writing muscle, it's going to improve and get better and better. So, you're doing the best thing, Jody, which is WRITING! Keep that up! And tell the elves of self doubt to go jump in the lake. *BG*


  3. At Wednesday, July 06, 2005, Blogger Jessica McCurdy Crooks said…

    I find your blog a joy to read. Keep up the good work.



  4. At Wednesday, July 06, 2005, Blogger Dorothy said…

    You know what I say? Write your little heart out and do just what you've been doing. I have a funny feeling no one knows the REAL way that hen lit is supposed to be written...so it's almost like anything goes! I'd just keep my protags older, but that's about all you can do! Great post, Jody!


  5. At Wednesday, July 06, 2005, Blogger Jody said…

    Since my comment was turning into another blog, I'll write another blog about this later today or tomorrow.


  6. At Thursday, July 07, 2005, Blogger sitting Tao said…

    I appreciate this personal post. When I first joined I got the impression this was supposed to be where we were "creative" more than personal. But I have a blog for that, so I rarely came over here. I am thrilled to see someone talk about how they feel about writing.


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