It’s more important to want to write than to want to be a writer. I find it illuminating that so many people tell me they want to be writers, but almost no one says, “I want to write.” There’s all the difference in the world. To want to be a writer, I think, has to do with fond daydreams about whatever we think a literary life is—awards ceremonies, and attractive book jackets. To want to write has to do with a desk, a computer, and a chair. It’s useful to keep a grip on this distinction.
The writing process? As far as I can tell, it means getting it wrong most of the time. It means looking with dismay at what you wrote yesterday, which seemed so good when you stood up at the end of your writing session. It means rereading a passage you are particularly fond of with dim, sinking dismay as you start to realize it really has nothing to do with your book, and however much you like it, it’s probably going to have to go. It often means putting aside almost every one of your original ambitions so that another, better ambition can take shape. It means, in short, a daily dose of humility."
I think the main thing is to not be afraid to fail. You’ll be rejected by publishers. You’ll have days of complete lack of faith in your abilities. But you have to keep coming back. That’s when you know you’re a writer – when you take the failures and appear at the desk again, over and over again.
From Marcus Zusak. So. True.
David Graeber, “Beyond Power/Knowledge: An Exploration of Power, Ignorance and Stupidity” (pdf)
He also says much the same thing in “Revolutions in Reverse,” an essay included in the book Revolutions in Reverse (which can be read in Scribd at the link). I’d been meaning to post a quote from the second source for a while, thanks to Aaron Brady for the actual excerpt above. That last link is a good essay on the recent Rush Limbaugh BS and how patriarchy works and how male privilege is defended by having men like Limbaugh around to keep women’s opinions out of the allowed discourse on the subject. To keep high school boys forever unable to write essays that could relate to the issue of needing hormonal birth control to control ovarian cysts.
We talked about this a lot this year in English. Girls are taught from a young age that we have to connect to what we read, so when we do excercises in class, everyone talks about how they connect to Huck Finn, or to Jay Gatsby, or to Julius Caesar. We connect to all the characters because we have to, because if we don’t then we won’t survive through the years of school.
Boys don’t deal with this. Practically every book or story they encounter from the time they begin school is full of male characters and written by men. So when confronted with female characters of female authors, they don’t know what to do. They feel as if they can’t connect with these characters because of the gender boundaries. As one woman in my class pointed out, “girls have to connect to male characters, but boys don’t have to connect to female characters.” By the time they’re my age, it’s not even intentional: many honestly think that they won’t understand a female character because they have no shared experiences whatsoever.