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Little Bo Peep Has Lost Her Sheep

I am feeling a little lost, and I am not really sure how it happened. I feel like I have just wandered off and lost myself among the tangents to the point that I no longer remember where I came from or where I am going. It is not upsetting. I just feel like I have come to a place where I can plop down, sit cross-legged on the mossy ground between a couple of my tangents, and scratch my head in bewilderment. I am bewildered within the wilderness of writing.

This blog had a purpose–but a personal one, not offering much of a definition of what it would look like, what I would write  about, or how I would interact with readers. My goal is to write for 10,000 hours, but somewhere around hour 30 I got confused. Somewhere around hour 35 confusion turned into a dog chasing its tail without ever having remembered starting.

I look around at other blogs–some of the fun ones I follow like Creative Liar, and they are well-developed, of clear voice, and you get a sense that everything you read ties into a central idea. I know mine doesn’t have any of that. But I might also be too hard on myself. It is just a blog after all.

I am still listening to Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life and it has gotten me thinking. He examines the books the mean the most to him, the teachers that have stuck with him, and why he writes. While I have examined all of these things before, each with more or less scrutiny, what I have not thought about is where I fit in the literary world. Writing my novel and stepping back from it–looking at it from a distance I notice that I am having a hard time finding my voice in it. It is too simplistic. I don’t think it really sounds like me. It is lazy and uses too many conventionalities. It is pedestrian. I am afraid it is of the caliber of something Stephanie Meyer would write, and since I can write better than that in my sleep I am disappointed.

Granted I wrote it in a month. But I know I need to rewrite it, and I am struggling to center myself and come back to who I am as a writer. I need to do the same thing with the blog. Listening to Pat Conroy talk about how he has changed as a writer over the years, makes me remember that I am going to change as well. I am going to get better (one can only hope) and my voice is going to mature.

But that leaves the questions of where am I now? What is the voice of my generation? Where do I fit? I have been reading books from ions ago: Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, Eugenics and Other Evils, Sula, and Beloved. They all have strong voices, but they are a product of their times. It is something I can’t emulate. Something I shouldn’t emulate. While I admire them, to emulate them would run the risk of trying to rewrite them. This would take me further from my own voice, my own ideas. I had a realization while I was driving around this morning that I simply need to embrace my generation and my voice. I need to stop trying to be the next great Harper Lee, because all I end up trying to do is be Harper Lee.

But where does that leave me? It gives me a sense of what I am not, but I do not think I am any closer to understanding what I am as a writer. I have this vague, morphing, misty idea of what I am–what my voice sounds like–but every time I try to explain it, it wriggles out from between my hands and vanishes. It is so fragile. Fickle. A Bitch. With a capital B.

There are so many things that lead me away from my voice: trying to write a novel in a month, trying not to offend anyone (Hello Grandma. Sorry about the B word), trying to find a theme, trying to write better than I can, trying to be a writer I’m not, trying to respect families wishes (promised mom I wouldn’t write about her on the blog, but considering she MADE me is that really fair? Can you really not write about half of yourself?), trying not to get too personal, trying to get too personal, lying, censoring myself. On and on.

It all can drive a writer mad.

I am now trying to ask myself a couple of questions as I write: Is it true? Is it me? Can I say it better? Is it original? But they are sometimes hard to answer.

Having said all of that, I have to say this is the first blog post I have liked in a while.

Go figure.

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9 thoughts on “Little Bo Peep Has Lost Her Sheep

  1. Thad says:

    Nicely done. As one of my teachers once said, “the first step in finding anything of value is to get lost.”

    Also, some very nice turns of phrase here. I particularly liked, “the mossy ground between a couple of my tangents.”

  2. These are some great questions! It can be fun to write like someone else, to copy their style and see if there’s anything that you’d like to keep from it and use to your advantage. You’ll figure it out, and after only 35+ hours I’d say you’re off to a great start :).

    • Thanks! I appreciate it 🙂 I agree that it is important to write in someone else’s style. There is a ton you can learn. At this point, I feel as if I have done this to the point where I am using it as a crutch. I need to step away from it for a while, and maybe come back to it later.

  3. Thanks for mentioning me! If it makes you feel better, this is my third or fourth attempt at blogging and I came at it with a clear outline of how I wanted to present my work. I wanted Creative Liar to be my author’s platform but with a comical twist so people wouldn’t start snoring when I talked about how much I love commas. But I do. I really really love them.

    Don’t worry. You’ll figure out this whole blogging shebang!

  4. Have you ever read Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell? In this book Malcolm talks about the 10,000 hour theory, and I too, have felt like it holds a large amount of truth to it. Then I think to myself, what warrants “writing” and “reading”? Because if you think about it, you and I have surely have been reading various things (road signs, text books, menus, novels) and writing (signing things, writing in greeting cards, essays, maybe poetry and notes) for well over 10,000 hours. It really makes you think: what constitutes as “writing”? It’s one thing if you’re playing an instrument, and you reach a moment of being able to say you mastered the instrument. No more squeaky notes, and practicing doesn’t make people ask you to take a break for a while. You create music, songs, make people happy. But at what point are you considered a writer? And beyond that….a master writer. Is it when someone pays you? When you get published? If you become famous, or rich?

    In my opinion, despite what that book says, or what any statistics say, I think what it really comes down to is how much you want it. Not the amount of hours, words written, or words unwritten. If you want to be a novelist, a poet, a journalist, an editor, or a writer in general for a company or just for yourself…than write what you love. I will be routing for you every step of the way.

    • I haven’t read it, but my husband has and that is where the idea came from. “What constitutes reading and writing?” That is an awesome question, because you are right–we ARE reading and writing all the time. For me I count the minutes when I am intentionally sitting down and reading WHILE asking myself questions: why does this work? What can I learn? Is this a cautionary tale of what not to do? etc. Same for writing. It is practice whenever I blog, whenever I do exercises, when I work on my novel, and when I journal. It is also writing when I sit with an blank page and procrastinate, because often times my brain needs that procrastination.

      I do not know what it means for me to be considered a writer, or better yet I haven’t decided yet. I can point towards authors who I believe have “made it”, and I can say that I do not believe I am there yet. Being published would be nice, but that is not the definition that I find myself leaning towards. I believe it has more to do with skill–a finely tuned craft. For me to consider myself a writer, even a master writer, I need to master grammar. I need to broaden my vocabulary. I need to breath while I write, and write while I breath.

      I agree with you that it really comes down to how much you want it. I am still deciding, but it is a decision I have already made–I am just waiting for my brain to catch up with my heart, if that makes sense.

      Thanks for routing for me. We all need cheerleaders–people believing in us. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this post. I really appreciate it.

  5. Pingback: Genre Ho!! | 10,000 Hours

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