Discouraged writer walks into a bar…

. . . and it was full of other discouraged writers.

OK, lame joke. But sometimes you just have to laugh. It’s that aggravating. Writing, I mean.

The novel being constructed.

The novel being constructed.


What keeps us at it? Naked ambition. Or, more generously: Love. An idiotic addiction to storytelling. Actually, I haven’t figured this out yet. There are a bunch of reasons not to write, certainly: It’s tough to get published, or if you go indie, tough to find readers; it’s tough to keep readers. Also:

  1. Annoying, bad reviews,

  2. WIPs that won’t catch fire.

  3. The doldrums where nothing much gets done despite best intentions.

  4. Watching dreck sell like crazy.

  5. Getting carpel tunnel from too much keyboarding.

  6. People asking “When they’re going to make a move out of your novel.”

But stop me before I head to the bar.

Really, though. There are decent reasons to write, but it’s just a bit elusive to pin them down. This morning my list is:

  1. The amazing experience of plumbing your own depths for a story, and miraculously finding one.

  2. Membership in a community of other people who find storytelling an important way to spend time (i.e., other writers).

  3. Hearing from readers who found your story meaningful, fun, or both!

  4. The odd and mystical experience of loving certain characters one has (after all) made up.

My Summer Vacation, or Existential Dread.

My Summer Vacation, or Existential Dread.


  1. Reprieve from the incessant demands of other options: finding a real job, paying attention to politics, cleaning closets, and using that exercise machine now doing time as a clothes rack.

  2. Keeping existential dread at bay. Um. Just threw that in there, though at some level I believe its true.

I’d like to hear your reasons. But please don’t say: “I can’t not write.” Yes you can. There are always choices. Best to try once in a while to articulate why you chose this exasperating, random, and often rewarding life of a writer.  Make a list. It might provide some surprises.

And keep you from griping in the bar at conventions.

A community of writers, e.g., Mike Resnick, Greg Bear, Peter Orullian, Louise Marley, Sharon Shinn, Jay Lake and daughter Bronwyn, J.A. Jance and her dachshund.

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Photo credit: Harry Brink
Jay & Bronwyn