Retro Tuesday 1-14-2020

What Kind of Writer Are You?

I don’t mean do your write fiction or nonfiction, fantasy, thriller, romance.  I’m asking a more fundamental question to you, and to myself. What kind of writer am I?

For one, I am the kind of writer and person, who needs physical evidence of my accomplishments. I can’t look at my computer and say, “Wow, I have 54,000 words. I’m the bomb.” 54,000 words isn’t a real measure for me. One thousand words a day is a goal, an accomplishment, but I still need something physical.

I am the kind of writer who needs physical proof. I need printed pages in front of me so I can see and hold and understand, which is why I am one of those writers who print out all my blogs. To know I have written 600 and some posts is one thing. To see the two huge binders full of those 600 and some posts is another.

Some would say printing my posts is a waste of paper, but it isn’t. I’m failed most often by those things that cannot be physically seen. Math. You can write problems down to solve them, but you have to understand them in your head. My head doesn’t work that way. Instructions on how to do most anything mechanical. Written down but understood in the mind.

Again, my mind doesn’t work like that. Do you remember those math problems which began:

Trains A and B are traveling in the same direction on parallel tracks. Train A is traveling at 60 mph and train B is traveling at 70 mph. Train A passesa station at 12:20 P.M. If train B passes the same station at 12:32 P.M., at what time will train B catch up to train A?”

I can read the words, but my mind has no idea how to arrange the words and numbers to find a solution. I can’t see progress. I can’t stand back, even if I solve it, miracle of miracles, filled with pride at what I’ve done because there is nothing to see.

Put it this way.  At one of my jobs, I chose to work in the warehouse instead of answering phones.  In the warehouse, I could stand back at the end of the day and see what I had physically accomplished. ‘I moved all the Portmerion (china patterns) to this set of shelves including all the boxes from the new shipment.’  On the phones, I could talk to fifty bitchy customers, unable (mostly) to offer them any solution. (It was a factor of the business at the time so move along). All I had to show was scribbled notes, exhaustion and frustration.

I would be exhausted after slumping all that china from here to there, but I would be content.  Happy, even.

So what does that say about me as a writer? I need concrete. I needs solid pages to hold onto so when I don’t print them I feel as if I’ve done nothing.  5000 words or not, I have no way to understand what I accomplished. So if I’m not printing pages (as I haven’t been), I need to.

If I don’t have a tangible grasp on my characters and plots, then I need to find physical markers of their reality. There are some characters in my world that, if you asked me what they had for breakfast, I could tell you without thinking. There are other characters for whom I would be stumped. So why am I trying to write about characters that aren’t so physically real that I can feel them, that their brain answers questions before I even need to think?

And here is what I am getting at with all this talk. If I am the kind of writer that needs physical closeness, physical proof, then why would I try to write without it? All I can do is fail because I am not allowing myself the chance to succeed. If I know how to succeed, why don’t I?

This goes much beyond writing. It’s what life is about.  If I know how to make my life work, why aren’t I doing it? Why do I fail myself by doing the very things I know won’t help me, won’t get me to where I want to be?  To where I am meant to be just because I am alive? There is no entrance fee for being whole or being human.

It comes down to fear. Most of us are afraid of failing , but we are more afraid of succeeding. We do the very things we shouldn’t in order to make ourselves fail. Succeeding is too much like hubris; putting ourselves too far above those around us and they might be hurt or anger at our successes. So we fail and tell ourselves we were never meant to have a good job or find love or live in peace or get that car or…… fulfill the promise inside us.

So, I ask myself again, what kind of writer am I? Am I the writer who will allow herself to fail out of fear of success? Am I the successful writer who is just too afraid to claim my own gifts? Think about that for a moment.  I know I do. A lot.

So what kind of writer are you?  What kind of writer do you want to be? How are you going to fearlessly claim your gifts and shine your light out into a failure-ridden world?