Today’s Topic: Know Thyself

The Forest for the Trees : An Editor\'s Advice to Writers“I heard poppa tell momma, ‘Let that boy boogie woogie, it’s in him and it’s got to come out.'” – John Lee Hooker

I’m going to plug a book today. It’s called The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner, and in it she provides advice for writers who have yet to be published. Whether I am a talented writer or an interesting one matters a great deal to me, I won’t lie about that. I would love to get a book published – I won’t lie about that either.

But, even if I am never lucky enough to get published or become accepted as a writer, nothing can change the fact that if I don’t write I become emotionally ill. Constipated, in a literary sense, if you will.

Therefore, even if you think I suck, I think I suck, or he, she and it thinks I suck, I will continue to consider myself a writer, because I can’t stop doing it without suffering the consequences.

I’m different from a heroin addict in that no one judges the heroin addict’s ability to shove the needle in his arm properly or says to him, “You call yourself an addict? Look at you. You have a healthy glow. Get outta here with that addict stuff. You’re a fraud. You’ll never be a Keith Richards or a Sid Vicious.”

Anyway, what initially attracted me to Lerner’s book was that she writes about the neuroses that all writers may experience in some form or another. She writes, “Writers love to worry. By their very nature they are neurotic…Some pick their skin, some pull out their hair or, in more extreme cases cut, burn or scar themselves. Many suffer from allergies, asthma, skin eruptions, rashes.”

I will not tell you here what neurotic things I do. There’s an icky list of them. But, hey, if you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.

Lerner also comments on the fact that many writers are hypochondriacs. I consider my hypochondria to be a blessing, because no one can prove I don’t have it, as is likely the case with the other 200 maladies I have experienced just during the time it’s taken me to write this post.

I am only halfway through reading this book. Hopefully, it will help me to see myself clearly enough that I might finally decide just what kind of book I’d like to write and, more importantly, what I could conceivably get published. My hope is that, once I get a book on the market, my husband will stop his constant nagging.

If you’ve read anything you found helpful relating to this topic, please share it here. I’ll be forever grateful. Blogging is a great outlet, but it doesn’t pay any bills.

Best wishes to anyone out there who has the writing monkey on his back but who hasn’t yet managed to put down on paper even a single thing that he might sell to a publisher.

Comments 2

  • Debbie my favourite writing books are Deena Metzgers ‘Writing for your life – a guide and companiion to the inner worlds’ Harper Collins. I found it very helpful when slogging through a very painful documentary project.

    Also good is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing down the bones and Wild Mind

  • Thanks very much for your suggestions. I’ll check those out. 😀

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