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Friday.  So many possibilities await.  What words will you write this weekend?  What ideas will you get down?  How much will get from your head onto the page or into the computer?

I had a writerly epiphany this week.  I was reading The Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.  The book is a Pulitzer prize winner; it probably deserves to be.  And yet, when I was done, I realized something.  If I’d written this particular novel, I’d be busy tearing it to shreds, thoroughly convinced that it was far from done.  If a writer friend had handed it to me as a manuscript, I would have said, “it’s brilliant, but… would you consider changing this, or adding this, this part seemed incomplete to me…”

My point being that I may, just possibly, be far too critical of anything that is in the process of development, my work and others, and I very much doubt that I’m the only one.

My challenge this weekend to all of you who are in various stages of the writing process, is to get your own personal critic under control.   I’m rather partial to Ann Lamott’s method of imagining all critical voices as mice, putting them in a jar with a tight fitting lid and turning off the volume.  What I usually do, though, is just treat my critic like one of my kids and ignore it, until the constant nagging makes me totally lose my cool, throw something, and walk away from writing for awhile. (No, I do not throw things at the kids.  I don’t.  Honest.)

So – this weekend I vow to experiment with better Critic Control Measures, as well as to keep on stringing scenes together and worry about tying it all together later.  What about the rest of you?

I woke up this morning certain that every word I’ve ever written was a waste of time.  Actually, more of a cosmic Waste of Time, as though I’d committed an unpardonable sin by daring to write more than one novel before I’ve published anything worth mentioning.  I was fully expecting the writing police to turn up at my door, shouting “Uppington Smythe, you are hereby charged with the crime of Polynoveling with Insufficient Talent…”

When I feel like this, I turn to the writings of Anne Lamott and Julia Cameron with the same intensity as a backslidden sinner searching for salvation in the Gideon Bible of a cheap motel.  Usually I take comfort from their wise writings; on days like today, when my self pity has taken my better self captive, everything fuels the flames of my martyr pyre. 

“How come I can’t have friends like that?  Where are all of the writer people when I need them?”

The trouble is, I don’t have very many writer people.  In fact, I can count my writer friends on two fingers.  One of them, Trudy Morgan Cole, (see her blog at is very supportive and empathetic with all my writing angst.  She also lives in Newfoundland, which places her in a time zone exactly 4 hours and 30 minutes later than mine.  As if that’s not bad enough, she’s already published more than one novel and writes really, really fast, so there are times when talking to her only makes things worse.  Then there is Joe, (you can see his blog at who lives in the same time zone, but is only 19 and apparently has a social life, which means he’s not sitting around on a Sunday afternoon in order to tell me how wonderful my writing is.  He has also written more than any self respecting 19 year old should be capable of.

(I’d like to say that I’m really not the type to be jealous of the success of others, but I would obviously be lying and what would be the point?)

By this afternoon my fit of writing ineptitude had bled into the rest of my life, and I was convinced that I was a horrible parent, a terrible lover, and a failure at everything.  David, my long suffering, endlessly supportive but non-writing partner, patted me on the head, reminded me that he believes very much in my stories, and sent me off to write for the afternoon, no excuses accepted.

As it turns out, this is exactly what was needed and after a couple of hours of solid work I feel infinitely better about my writing and the world in general.  Still, I am looking for a way to expand my writing community.  When I am banging my head against the wall in an attempt to write a perfect synopsis, only to discover that this particular animal is as elusive as the Jabberwocky and every bit as dangerous to my psyche, I need to know that somebody else is battling the same demons. 

Which leads me to my request.  If you have figured out the perfect way to deal with the writing blues, or if you just want to share your own misery, leave me a comment.  Maybe we can help each other out.  Or maybe we can just provide each other with another writer to be jealous of.  But hey, I’ll take my motivation any way I can get it.


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