The Ten Commandments for Writers

The only response I got from the last entry (at least here, my friend Jay had a little snark for me in the land of Facebook) was from another friend who, like me, writes for a living. See comments of the last blog for more info, but it made me think… if we don’t do our paid work because we’re not able to express ourselves creatively while we’re writing an advertorial on back pain or a guide to dog-friendly resorts in the Florida Keys, shouldn’t we at least feel free to write whatever the hell we want on our own blogs?

I don’t write here when I have nothing to say, which should be almost never; I’m chock-full of opinions. But I can’t convince myself to publish crap, and I think most of what I start to write here (and subsequently delete) is crap, so many times I get two sentences in and delete the whole thing. I’d like to call it laziness but I’m more afraid that it’s really chicken-hearted fear. Fear that when I’m this happy nothing’s funny or eloquent. Fear that I might actually turn in a great blog post that I could have used instead as a column for Hard Candy (Hard Candy is a column I write for a local weekly paper. Blatant Plug: read more on Fear that I might actually just plain suck and after a few more of these posts my mom will be the only one reading anymore.

Along those lines, I’ve thought about some things that seem universal to many writers. I’ve -I guess discovered is the word? OK, let’s run with that- discovered these weird writing commandments over the past seven years. As far as I can tell, here’s what Moses would have brought down for us :

10. Writers may or may not do their best work at the eleventh hour, but I’ve never met one who didn’t do most of their work exactly then, so who knows how well we would do otherwise?
9. One drink makes most writers funnier while they’re blogging. Several makes them stupid or eloquent, and which way it’s going to go *this time* is the greatest crapshoot of the Writer’s Universe.
8. No matter a writer thinks before it happens, once a writer starts getting hate mail or comments, the idea that “they’re reading you and that’s great! It just means you’ve rattled some cages! You’re making people think!” or any other platitude goes pretty much out the window. In its place? Exactly what the hate mailer intended.
7.The prouder a writer is of something they wrote, the more likely it is that their editor/client/audience will hate it or demand a rewrite.
6. The more a writer thinks what they’ve written is unremarkable or total crap, the more likely it is that everyone will love it or, at a minimum, react incredibly passionately to it.
5. The sweetest and most horrific words a writer can ever hear are “We’re going to give you an opinion column.”
4. A writer is always astounded when they realize that people actually read what they write. Other than our closest blood relatives, we don’t really expect that anyone gives a rat’s red ass what we think, and why should they? We don’t know what we’re writing about an amazingly large percentage of the time.
3. A writer is not just astounded when they realize their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/lesbian life partner (B/G/H/W/LLP) reads what they write, they immediate start editing as they write, wondering what B/G/H/W/LLP will think of what they’ve just written.
2. The shittier a writer is at her craft, the more she thinks she’s just great at it.
1. Good writers- real writers- almost always feel like frauds. They lie in wait for the moment they walk into a client’s office and hear, “You know, your writing is actually pretty terrible. We’re letting you go.” While waiting for this moment they indulge in a lot of self-flagellating fantasies where they end up living in a wet mildewy box under the interstate in the bad part of town, sipping box wine out of an old MD 20/20 bottle and trying to tie into the street lights for power for their MacBook.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.

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