IWSG: To Hell with Woe

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. The group offers a place for writers of all kinds to support each other in moments of insecurity. This is only my third IWSG entry, but I'm going to be changing things up a little with this one.

I realized early on that if I keep posting about my own frustrations and insecurities when it comes to writing, these posts are going to start sounding very similar every month. So I've decided that I'm going to move away from "woe is me" and focus on the motivation and encouragement side of IWSG.

So from now on when the first Wednesday of the month comes around, I'm going to share a motivational quote from someone inspiring. It might not always be from a person in the writing world, but I'm going to make sure I only share words that I feel possess that unique combustible property that makes excellent rocket fuel for writing. Hopefully you'll find the same encouragement in them that I have.

Today's quote comes from one of the most celebrated and influential writers of our time, Ray Bradbury:

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.


This quote comes from Bradbury's excellent book Zen in the Art of Writing. I'm not going to go into the context of the quote in the book itself, just what the quote means to me and how I use it to keep my gears moving. Besides, every writer ought to get around to reading Zen at some point, regardless what kind of writing you do. It's page after page of sage-like advice and inspiration.

For me, these words serve as a reminder that you are not your day-to-day. In other words, you are not your day job. You are not your stack of bills, your overdrawn bank account, or your two o' clock dentist appointment. This is starting to sound like a Tyler Durden rant, but the point is that life is filled with things that can distract you from what you really are at the end of the day, what your life is really made of. And those kinds of distractions, for writers, can become deadly poison if you let them.

In my experience, the muse can be very selfish. Even if you show up to your meeting place at the usual time, she probably won't be feeling very cooperative if you show up with baggage in hand. But that doesn't mean you need to square away your problems before sitting down to write. Instead of trying to unpack all that baggage before you get to work, just set it down and let the muse do it for you. Before you know it, you'll be sitting down at that desk every night like a drunk on a barstool, looking to forget your troubles. And the best part is that you won't wake to a hangover the next day--you'll have a new story, or a nice chunk of that novel completed.

In my first IWSG post, I talked a bit about the desperation I feel when I have to trudge into the job I hate. Bradbury's quote reminds me that the source of--and solution to--that desperation is waiting at home, at the writing desk. When I'm sitting here with hammer in hand, forging galaxies and populating worlds, I forget all of that other stuff. If I didn't have writing, reality might have destroyed me long ago. In one way or another, I've been drunk on it for years.

So the next time you start to feel life clinging at you, threatening to pull you apart like Despenser the Younger, don't give in to woe and despair. Just get a little drunk.

Edited to Add:


Photo by Alan Light
I wrote this entry around midnight Tuesday night, and it got me thinking about how influential Ray Bradbury has been in my growth as a writer. Along with a few other greats, his work instilled a love for science fiction (and great fiction in general) from early childhood. When I decided to start using inspirational quotes for my IWSG entries, I knew his would be the first I'd use.

Then today, I woke (in the afternoon, due to my vampiric work schedule) to find that news broke this morning of his passing. I'm blown away. When I was writing this entry, I even did some shopping to find some of his collected works that I don't have anymore, and when I was checking his bibliography on wikipedia, I remember seeing how old he was and remarking to myself that it was good he was still with us. Now, we come to find out that he no longer is. What a loss. We'll miss you, Ray.

Ray Bradbury 
August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012      



Comments

  1. That's the spirit!

    However tempting it might be to give in to being overwhelmed and feeling hopeless and sorry for oneself, that never helped anyone, and it certainly won't help get closer to your dream.

    Your post is a great reminder to stick to what we really are and why we're doing all of this. Thanks, James! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely right. As much as it might help to get those feelings despair and hopelessness off our chests from time to time, it doesn't do us any good to carry them around with us at all times.

      Thanks, Vero!

      Delete
  2. That quote reminds me one of my favorites, by Dorothy Sayers. Her Lord Peter is asked, "Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?" and he replies, "So easy, in fact, that I am rarely sober."

    I like the idea of living my entire life a little tipsy on the sheer beauty and glory of WORDS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a great thought, isn't it? And the great thing about writing is that we can carry our words and worlds around with us. You don't have to be at your desk to be drunk on writing.

      Delete
  3. I love this quote as well and every ounce of me wishes I had gotten off my butt a long time ago and focused on my writing the way I do now. Writing gives me energy. It is my passion and it actually helps me to endure my day job, which I also hate because I know that I can go home and tap the keys for hours and create something. It is such blessing and I wish I had started doing it years ago. Really great post and I look forward to seeing more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you on that one! I wish I'd made the commitment to writing years ago, when I was flirting with it but partially in denial that this was what I wanted to do with my life. Now that I've embraced it, it only makes "staying drunk" easier, even when I'm at that job I hate.

      Thanks, Sydney!

      Delete
  4. This is perfect! I love the whole "get drunk on the thing you love" concept. And yes, as someone who has fought depression for a long time, I can testify that it is very easy to fall victim and succumb to it. I applaud your attempts to step into the light and try to maintain that focus and positivity. But remember, JW, everyone needs to vent sometimes, and that's what supporting communities are here for! Try not to lock too much up. It'll eat you alive. And if you ever need someone to vent to. Hey, I'm always around!

    Motivational stuff here. Great post!

    Randicop

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Randi! I appreciate the offer. :)

      You're right, venting can be extremely helpful, which is why it's great that a group like IWSG exists. But the great thing about writing is that we can also vent to the muse. The blank page is always listening when we need it to.

      Delete
  5. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful! Great post. I'm a fellow IWSG member. Nice to meet you! From now on, every time I get down, I will remember the quote you shared and get drunk with my words. Lovely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Julia. For some reason your comment went in the spam filter, that's why I'm so late in replying!

      Delete
  6. Great attitude!
    And sad we have lost a literary great like Bradbury. His work a major influence on a lot of people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely a major loss to the writing community. The man was a legend!

      Delete
  7. A great post, and unwittingly timely. I love Bradbury, and you've got some great advice here!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lovely, perfect! I did a sort of eulogy on my blog for Bradbury too. He was such an inspiration.
    Catherine Stine’s Idea City

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He really was. It's amazing how much influence he's had on the literary world, transcending genre. The argument could be made that he was the best short story writer of our time. May he rest in peace!

      Delete
  9. That is an excellent quote. Bradbury is a loss indeed. Neil Gaiman wrote a lovely piece for The Guardian I think saying that he invited a 12 year old boy who wanted to write to spend half a day with him and that boy ended up being a writer - that Bradbury was that kind of guy, who'd invite a boy round because he wanted to be a writer. A nice guy as well as an excellent writer.

    I think we all need a place to vent sometimes, to get it out - that's what we're all here for. You are right too that the page is always there and getting lost in the words is why we do it.

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bradbury was an amazing ambassador to the literary world, for both writers and readers. That Neil Gaiman story doesn't surprise me at all; by all reports he was an awesome person, willing to mentor anyone who asked. What a shame he's gone.

      Thanks for stopping by, Viklit.

      Delete
  10. Your post makes me so glad to have joined this group. I must confess I don't know Bradbury. But I will start getting to know him now. Thanks for the quote and for your kind words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to have you aboard, Myrna. Nice to hear you're going to read some of Bradbury's work. You won't be disappointed! He's one of the greatest short story writers ever, and his novels are amazing and influential as well.

      Delete
  11. Great post! I think the quote will keep me with my hammer in hand!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear it, Hildie! Thanks for reading. :)

      Delete
  12. Excellent post! I love the writing message. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. A great man. It's amazing how old he was when he died. We can't say he didn't live a full life.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And he was dolling out advice and mentorship pretty much up until the end. A shame we couldn't have kept him forever.

      Delete
  14. Quotes are a great idea as we can tend to float along in our own pool of insecurities. Bradbury was an awesome man, such a lose but then what life isn't?
    -MJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, MJ! You're right, every life that twinkles out is a great loss to someone. But some lives touch others to a greater degree, and Bradbury was definitely one of them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading!