Monday, April 29, 2013

Rambling: On writing. Or making the first move. Or something.

I want to write a book.

Not necessarily get a book published, though that is of course always on the mind when one thinks of writing a book. And in fact, that's...

OK, let's back up. I've always had a problem with taking the smallest risk of pushing myself in where I might not be welcome. And I don't mean a head-ducked, blushing, Elmer Fudd "awww..." kind of shyness, I mean, "Where the bleep would you get the idea that I wanted to be part of your bleeping club? Bleep off!" I don't mean that I don't appreciate people who welcome me in. For example, I love all you guys that read me on my blog, and you guys who welcome me on your blogs. That makes me all happy and fuzzy. No, I mean...

OK, here's an example: I remember, years and years ago when I was young, that an administrator on an online roleplaying site (MUSHes? MUDs? Heard of them? No? 'Sok, it doesn't really matter to the story.) once invited me to be a fellow administrator, and I said, well, thanks, but no--without going so far as to mention that I didn't want to be part of the grudge-of-the-week dysfunction that was the staff of that particular site. Or, really, most roleplaying sites. An administrator on a roleplaying site regulates the fantasies and artistic creations of teens and college students, and therefore occupies a position that requires the diplomacy and people skills of a very good junior high school principal or corporate manager. These positions are generally held by teens and college students. This can lead to badness.

Uh. Where was I? Oh, yes. So I politely turned the offer down, and the administrator came back to me a week or so later to tell me that they'd had a meeting and I had been turned down as an administrator. I suspect that my blood pressure went up to dangerous levels as I tried to explain that I never bleeping applied, all in online messages to a person who seemed to get only one message out of three, and that one usually forty minutes after it was sent, and often apparently read out of order. (Yet another reason to avoid staff responsibility on that particular site.) I was never able to get her to comprehend "you can't turn me down; I never applied!", and I still remember the absolute fury that I felt.

I used to assume that my aversion to being seen to ask for a welcome that might not be forthcoming came from my experiences in junior high, where I was one of Those Kids, one of the small number of designated scapegoats. More recently, I realize that I might have cause and effect reversed. Even in junior high, I wouldn't be caught dead trying to ingratiate myself with hostile kids, so that might very well have been the partial cause, rather than the result, of my scapegoat status.

For example, one of my other vivid memories in this category is of sitting down at a junior high cafeteria table to eat my lunchbox lunch, and having the table slowly fill up with kids in the Moderately Popular strata. The table got full, another one of those kids turned up, and it was made clear that I should run along so that said kid could occupy my chair. One of the girls said something along the lines of, "Well, we let you sit here this long..." with the clear implication that I ought to be blushingly grateful that they'd deigned to occupy the same table that I had bleeping sat at first!

Maybe if I were more normal, I would have tried to win permission to sit in that chair, to charm the Moderately Popular? Maybe I would have been trying to ingratiate myself as the table filled up, so that I wouldn't have been asked to leave?

Shudder. Inconceivable.

In accordance with my recent tendency to blame everything on Mom,  I wonder if this personality trait came from having a mother who just wasn't that into me. In my adult relationship with Mom, there was no emotional give and take--my job was to give advice and reassurance and a responsive listening ear to Mom, and then to give Mom gratitude for the opportunity to give Mom all those things. Mom didn't give back. I think--I hope--that I do give back, but perhaps in early childhood I learned that giving first was unlikely to be a wise investment, and I developed a lifetime aversion to doing so.

Drifting back to the original subject: Getting a book traditionally published would involve a great deal of asking for a welcome that's far from assured. Worse, it would involve spending a lot of time and thought and heartache on one offering, bazillions of hours of work that I would put on a plate and hold out, saying, "Please like me?"


Blog posts and forum posts and other little things are easier. I write it, I close my eyes, I throw it out in the world, and I run away fast.

It's not that I fear not being good enough. Or fear having the work rejected as garbage. If I were marching up to someone for an evaluation, a test, a rating, I could deal just fine with the possibility of failing. They could throw tomatoes at me while laughing hysterically, and I could shrug and wander home to do a rewrite. It's marching (via the post office) up to someone--an agent, a publisher--asking for a professional relationship, asking for a welcome...


But I want to write the bleeping book. So it looks like some mental housekeeping is in order.


I guess that is all. Somehow I thought this post would have more plot.

Cat image: Wikimedia Commons.
Book image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I love this post! Your ability - and willingness - to put it all out there is admirable. Asking to be in any club, or to be accepted, is always a vulnerable proposition. Especially for those of us who spent our lives feeding a mother's needs and emotions, with no regard given to our own. It's hard not to be pissed about that now.

    Write your book!

  2. Hey. I remember those moderately popular kids and their shameful antics. Well, f them. Write your book, darling. Practically no one gets a welcome, anyway, really. Just assume you deserve it. Because you do.

  3. I'm all in favor of you writing a book. I would never have believed I could write one, let alone seriously engage in the act of trying to get it published, before I decided to try on a whim. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, even if it only amounts to a lovely and personal gift you share with your loved ones.

  4. Ok, first, please go and write your book. It's obviously waiting to come out.
    And I apply as a beta-reader. :)
    (it's just that I tend to be a slow one)

    Secondly, I find it's normal to realize how our parents formed us into people we are today (I certainly know what unlikeable traits I have that came straight as reaction to my parents). But I don't blame them for it. I am a responsible (well, most of the time) adult and I should take responsibility for who I am today and no longer place blame but work on those traits and improve myself as a person.
    I do hope you don't take this as criticism, I don't mean it like it - it does sound nice in theory but applying it in life is a different matter.

    Anyway, basically, write the book - it is bound to make you feel great. :)

    P.S. One of my captcha words is stopped. :) I wonder if someone is trying to send me a message. ;)

  5. Hiya, Josephine! I really appreciate the comment. Yeah, I suspect that there's going to be a fair dose of angry at Mom for a while. I'm curious to find out if that's going to transition to anything else eventually. Maybe after I do enough writing about it. :)

    I also notice that "run away fast" seems to apply to my responding to comments. I'm delighted when you folks comment on my posts, but then it's a week later before I respond.

  6. Hey, Cupcake! Thanks! I will work on assuming my deservingness. :)

  7. Yo, Diana! Yep; for that matter, just writing the thing seems worthwhile, even if it never gets off my computer. And that seems to be a necessary belief currently, because of course expecting anyone, however loved-one they are, to _read_ the thing, is again assuming a welcome. :)

  8. Yo, Ines! I'd be delighted to have you as a beta-reader. :)

    I actually think that blame is a good, if not permanent, step. :) Blame starts with the premise that the person being blamed had responsibilities, and the idea of holding Mom responsible for any of the decisions of her life feels a little like sacrelige. Good sacrelige.

  9. Just write it. Why? Because no matter how many other stories are out there that are similar, nobody else can tell YOUR story in YOUR voice.

    Plus, writing is good (cheap) therapy, whether you write a non-fiction memoir, or a novel that incorporates real-life emotions and situations.

    Worrying about rejection is a handy excuse, er, reason, to not start or finish something. *I* am struggling with my latest work because on the surface I have much else going on and day job and this and such. Reality? It's taking me into some dark places and it's uncomfortable, so the more excuses I have that keep me away from it... and yet, THIS is the book I need to write, right now, difficult though it is.

  10. I completely understand and share your insecurities about asking for approval / favour / book deals. I have a half finished travel book that languishes because of exactly these self-defeating - yet 'safe' - arguments...

  11. Hey, Beverly! I missed your comment; bad Chicken! Yep, I need to just write it. And, really, I can write it before I work on trying to stomach submitting it. They don't have to be linked; I'm the one linking 'em.

    Yeah, it increasingly seems that at certain times one's brain wants to write _that_ thing and it couldn't care less how much you'd rather write _this_ thing; nothing else is going to get written until that thing is done.

  12. Yo, Vanessa! Yep yep yep. If it makes a bit of difference, I'd love to read a travel book written by you. :)