IWSG-June

“The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.” Members post about their writing lives, their successes and failures, goals, achievements, and offer support and advice to others in the group. It is a time to lay our insecurities bare, because all writers are insecure writers at heart.

If you aren’t already a member, check us out and join up HERE.

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You can also follow and participate on Facebook and Twitter.

The optional question for this month’s blog post is- Did you ever say β€œI quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

I’ve said I quit many times before, mostly when I was younger and more prone to extreme emotional responses to writing difficulty. I’ve torn poems and stories from notebooks, ripped them to shreds because someone I respected didn’t like them, the people the writing was about made me feel unimportant somehow, or I was having a bad stretch and was sure all my writing was crap.

These fits rarely lasted more than a day or two.

I can only recall one instance where I actually quit writing for any extended period of time. I’d just graduated from the University of Utah with a (super useful) degree in English. Applications for graduate school had been submitted (to MFA programs), and I was supremely confident that very soon I would be sorting through multiple acceptance offers. In fact, I can’t think of a time I had been more sure of my writing ability, more certain that success was waiting for me to grab it.

One by one, each of the schools to which I’d applied sent rejections. Each was painful to receive, but the letter from the University of Utah delivered a crushing blow. The application deadline was July 15th, and my rejection was dated June 25th. Yeah, rejected before all applicants were considered. Ouch.

Convinced I was the worst writer of all time, I completely abandoned the craft

I spent the next two years without composing a single poem or short story. I did a masterful job of deceiving myself that I didn’t miss it, but that sort of dishonesty is hard to maintain.

Poetry brought me back. I’d joined an online community for a band I really liked, and many of the others participants were creative types. They shared snippets of stories, lines of poetry, other art, some of it quite good, and somewhere inside of me, I felt a compulsion to participate.

Completing five or ten line poems took hours at first. I questioned every word, every phrase and image, often deleting everything and starting over. It was difficult for sure, but I think I need writing to be very hard for a while. I had to earn back the skills I’d selfishly cast away in a fit of self pity.

Writing fiction again took me another four years. It wasn’t until I was well into earning a Masters degree in Library Science that I could no longer ignore the need to tell prose stories again (poems are stories, right?). There wasn’t single catalyst or event to get the ball rolling. Multiple factors came into play, but at my core, I’ve always felt compelled to write fiction most, and finally that voice refused to remain silent.

What about you? Have you ever quit writing? Why did you stop, and what brought you back?

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About fenster

There are some who call me, Tim?

19 responses to “IWSG-June”

  1. dianawilder says :

    Talk about a triple punch! But it sounds as though you came back stronger!

  2. Crystal Collier says :

    Poetry kind of brought me back too, but when I was in college. My hubby would write these sweet love poems for me (he’s a keeper), and eventually I said, “I can do that too.” Which I could. But it wasn’t anything serious, not at first. It was just fun.

    I’m glad you got your writing shoes back after they’d been steamrolled. I think we all need that utter point of failure if we’re truly going to succeed.

    • fenster says :

      I agree. It really was very good that coming back was difficult. Having to work and work to get my legs back was rewarding.

      And isn’t it great when spouses are keepers?

  3. mirymom says :

    It is hard to keep going in the face of rejection. My poetry prof always said that rejection weeds out the folks who don’t want it enough. Glad you did! @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

    • fenster says :

      I agree. Rejection does weed out those who don’t want it enough. Getting out of my pity party was a really good thing. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. ChrysFey says :

    I’m glad that poetry brought you back, and that you eventually started writing fiction again.

  5. C.D. Gallant-King says :

    I keep trying to quit but they keep pulling me back in.

    Glad they got you, too. πŸ˜‰

  6. Shannon Lawrence says :

    Glad you found your way back after the rejections rolled in.

  7. Ellen says :

    That must have been so tough getting those rejections. Especially from the one where they didn’t even wait to look at all of the applicants. Glad you’re back writing now.

    • fenster says :

      Yeah, I think I was just very young and not ready for the onslaught. It was my first real experience with being told my work wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t skilled enough to not take it personally.

  8. Michelle Wallace (@mishy1727) says :

    If not for that strong compulsion to write fiction again, and your voice which refused to remain silent, I might never have had the opportunity to read your wonderful poetry!
    Thank goodness you were strong enough to overcome the feelings of inadequacy after multiple rejections. πŸ™‚

  9. Liesbet says :

    Wow, Ryan, you have been a real and passionate writer for a long time! It must be in your genes. I”m so glad you picked it up again. That is braver and more meaningful (after those rejections) than quitting forever or having had your writing be appreciated all along. You know it is a big part of you and follow through. For me, it is different. I enjoy writing, but I have other, very time-consuming passions as well and I definitely was not a writer when I was in my teens or twenties. I’ll never quit writing totally, but I might only try to achieve writing one real book.

    • fenster says :

      Those rejections were my first real taste of failure. I was super young and not quite ready or mature enough to deal with it in a constructive way. But like you say, writing was deep inside me and at my core, I knew I wasn’t really quitting.

      Also, having lots of passions is a good thing. Writing is there, and it is fine if it isn’t priority one.

  10. jmh says :

    Oh yikes, that would hurt so much. Talk about discouraging! Writing is like that, isn’t it? Just when you’re confident, it kicks you in the teeth. When you’re down in the dirt, it gives you a glimmer of hope. The writing muse is a fickle bitch.

    I’m so glad you found your way back.

    • fenster says :

      Indeed. I really think I was young and not quite able to distance the rejection of words on a page from a rejection of me as a person of value. I’m glad I’ve learned the difference.

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