Rabbits, Writing, and Corpses

My kiddo snapped this picture at his school's Cowboy Round-Up.

“I saw the bobcat by the shed. I think it’s here because of the rabbits,” my dad said the other day. “There aren’t as many rabbits around now.”

“Do you remember when I tried to hide rabbits in my closet, Dad?” We have never talked about those rabbits.

“Sure,” he said. “That bobcat is big. I didn’t know bobcat’s got that big. And it’s skinny and tall.”

“Gee, I didn’t know they were very big either, Dad.” We didn’t talk about the rabbits in the closet.

I don’t know what I wanted my dad to say about those rabbits.

I don’t know what I want people to say about my writing either. Being a writer is a hell of a way to live–you might get compliments you can’t believe, you get criticism you don’t want to hear, or you get nothing at all. Did you read my story? Sure. What do you think about bobcats?

In graduate school I met a guy whose job in the Gulf War was to pick corpses up from the roads. He fidgeted in class. The writing life is not that life. It is a luxury. And still I can whine about how much I put into it and I don’t hear what I want to hear.

But when I was a kid, I didn’t hide those rabbits so that my dad and me could have a magical conversation decades later. I’m not writing so that I can hear that magical compliment. I’m writing because I’ve avoided thousands of other jobs.

Are you able to say exactly what you want from others when you write? Money? How much? A compliment? What would that compliment be? Approval? From whom? Revolution? From what?

And when your writing insecurities get out of hand (if you’re the sort of person that happens to), what helps you put things back in perspective?

12 thoughts on “Rabbits, Writing, and Corpses

  1. Are you able to say exactly what you want from others when you write? Money?

    How much?
    All of it. Every penny.

    A compliment? What would that compliment be?
    Well, saying something nice is always a start. Telling me (because of what I write) it frightened them so much they had nightmares, or they couldn’t finish it (but paid full retail price anyway), or whatever. Or it disturbed them. They couldn’t put it down. You know, that sort of thing.

    But mostly the money. Because I’ve wanted to avoid thousands of other jobs but haven’t.

    Actually, I really only recently decided this is the career for me. It’s late in my life, and I need to hurry up. Yeah, the money would be nice, but it’s not realistic. I just want to make a living from writing fiction, make it my “job” — and that’s about it.

    Okay, I give up. I have no idea what I want. So I’m sticking with my original answer: Money. All of it. Every penny.

  2. If I was a writer – and once I wanted to be – it was because I wanted to tell stories. Everything else would have been frosting. All I wanted was to hold people spellbound for a little time while I told them something funny or interesting or thought provoking. Unfortunately I wasn’t given the gift of story telling. So now I read. 🙂

    1. I don’t know why you think you can’t write. That may or may not be true, and if you ever change your mind, I’ll cheer you on (or clap or throw confetti). But we need more readers in the world, so that is good.

  3. Miriam

    I want to be understood. I want people to stop judging me by their interpretation of what they see and discover the reality behind it. I want money, too. And compliments. But most of all I want to be understood.

    1. If I get published and people read my work, I’m not sure I’d feel any more understood. Perhaps it would depend on what you write. But I hope you get all you want.

      1. Miriam

        I only began writing because I wanted to explain about social anxiety. I have since written about other things, but this remains my primary goal.

        (Sorry that linkback thing appeared again below. I need to remember to turn it off.)

  4. I hope to accomplish several things. Money, the ability to make a living from writing, would be a validation. I’d love to make a difference in a stranger’s life, but the caveat is that I’d want to know about it. That would validate me more than the money would. If I wrote something that made my husband give me a compliment, that would be the world. But those things aren’t why I write, as you point out, they are just what I hope to accomplish with my obsession. The things I think will validate my efforts.

  5. Nothing puts things back into perspective when my writing insecurities get out of hand. They pretty much have the run of the joint until they collapse on the floor, at which point I can work again. That said, one thing seems to stave them off: not stopping writing — it’s like they can’t get a word in edgewise. When I have a forced break, as I did recently (a cold for most of the week), they get up and flex their muscles all over the place, strike poses in front of mirrors, and knock over expensive glassware. It’s a little embarrassing to watch, to tell you the truth, but what can I do? They’re strong suckers. Just have to wait them out.

    I’m always running into people like your Gulf-War vet, who embarrass the bejeezus out of me for even thinking of complaining — complaining about anything. (Fortunately, I also keep running into people like you and the other folks here who seem to share some of the same neuroses I have. Whew!)

    Somewhat like Darc, I wouldn’t mind getting a pile of money for my writing. In fact, I sometimes use that as an excuse (to myself and others) for why I’m writing fiction when I’m pretty sure I could make at least some money on non-fiction, like, If I could, I’d much prefer to make money telling stories I’ve made up than telling stories I’m just reporting.

    The best thing of all would be for some anonymous patron to tell me, “I have no idea what your blog is about, including the fiction, but I have to admit I like it. I’ll pay you 50 grand a year to keep writing it. And when you finish a book I’ll see to it that it gets published, by a respectable publisher, simultaneously in hardcover, paperback, and e-book versions, with options already in place for the screenplay. I’ve already talked to Babaloo Mandel about taking the project on because (a) he also likes your work and (b) he’s the only screenwriter whose name you can think of when you’re making up this conversation.” Then he’d add, “Would that be all right?”

    And then I’d hesitate, tapping a forefinger on my chin and staring off into the middle distance, as though weighing my options.

    Short of all that, I’m not sure why I’m writing.

  6. Pingback: Just a Phone Call « An’ de walls came tumblin’ down

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