Stay With Your Crap
This past Saturday I had difficulty writing. I knew what the problem was right away. I have absorbed a lot of craft ideas as a result of writing this blog, which doesn’t sound like a problem. In fact, it sounds like an advantage. After all, I’m reading as a writer and seeing with greater clarity how some of my favorite writers master story. But I have the same 20/20 vision when it comes to my own work. Unfortunately, I’m seeing with great clarity the awesome crap I’m writing. I tried to stay in the room, but I got sick of the sight of my sentences. I was discouraged. Frustrated. I had to take a break. Just needed to back away from the computer before I tossed it over the balcony. I pulled out a craft book for some recuperative reading and stumbled upon this little nugget from Philip Roth in Nail Your Novel, by Rox Morris.
Over the years, you develop a tolerance for your own crudeness. Stay with your crap and it will get better, and come back every day and keep going.
Those two sentences resonated with me. In general, I can intellectualize the whole “writing is a process” until the cows come home, but it doesn’t always soothe the inner critic — she’s too emotional! But this Roth quote gets right to the heart of it, the difficulty of writing. You have to crank out crudeness and not look back.
These words are now a mantra for me. I wrote them on a Post-It note, which I affixed to the screen of my laptop. Yesterday, I stayed with it and kept going. I hope you can do the same.
Photo: Aaron Escobar