As much as you can
There is such joy in my late forties in checking out the must-read book of that season, realizing it is crap 20 pages in, putting it down, and moving on with my life. Such delight in reading all the books that make me happy, no matter what anyone else thinks of them.
One of my goals for this week is to finally commit to which novel draft I want to work on (I have six different novels in various stages of completion because I am very good at coming up with stories and not so good at finishing them) and this is a good reminder that I should just pick the one that seems the most fun to keep working on. There is no guarantee it will be good or I'll ever publish it so I should at least enjoy the process of writing it. Thank you for the reminder.
Love this - and also, I was SO DELIGHTED to spot a rose breasted grosbeak at our feeder the other day. Hooray for migration season (for however long you’re into appreciating it)!
“You can write the thing you want to write regardless of what anyone else says. It might not be something suitable for the publishing industry, which is different from writing, but that’s ok.” wow, I needed to hear this-- I have a memoir project that I’ve been working on for a few years now, and have gradually come to realize that a) it’s unlikely to get me a book deal and b) I’m not sure I want that anyway?? BUT I do still want to write it, and maybe self-publish it in my own offbeat way.
I'm about three chapters in to Jenny Odell's latest, Saving Time, and this email is a great companion piece! I'm swimming around in a book project right now that some days I want to write, and some days I don't, but that's the process. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I'm giving myself this draft to decide if I want to go on.
The 10,000 red-headed woodpeckers in my neighborhood say hello!
Dear Kate, I just love all your posts so much. I'm a published author with an agent and I teach writing, and I'm always sharing your words with my students. I even quoted you when I gave a graduation speech at our MFA program. Please know that your work is making a difference in the world.
Thanks for this. I've always stuck to writing what I want to write over what is publishable. My work lately is trying to surrender to there being no "outcome" to writing what I'm writing, beyond the journey of writing itself. It's a hard one, considering how society has programmed me to achieve measurable results. It's an everyday process in surrender that some days I fail at and some days I don't.
This post is so relevant to both my life and my writing. Thank you for posting!
A very timely piece! Thanks for the reminder that I need to be writing what I want to write and not what I might consider marketable. Enjoying the pacific northwest birds in my yard! Thanks again!
Good advice, thanks Kate!
Dgaf for sure! In the writing world, and more broadly, there is so much prescriptive ‘advice’ out there that you could spend your whole doing others bidding. I use the deathbed scenario to parse whether someone is doing what they want or what others require
I have the same feeling as you, and I absolutely agree with you. I think that realization that came to you comes at a conscious age, when you have baggage of experience to refer to in order to draw a conclusion like you did. Thank you for giving me something to think about.
I love this advice. Chances are that if you WANT to write something there is a need to have it out in the world.
The ‘shoulds’ are powerful! It can feel so challenging, wrong and even unsafe to not do what you think you should, what’s expected, and instead do fear you want. Women certainly are not taught that’s okay. But when we do turn from the should to our want, and we’re okay, our world doesn’t cave in, the freedom and power we find is amazing.
I was so flattered when a book commissioning editor asked if I’d like to write a book that I wrote a proposal for the book I thought they’d want. While I waited to hear back I began to dread the thought of having to actually write this book, it didn’t light me up, and I found myself hoping they’d turn it down. I was so relieved when they did!
I needed to read this today. Thank you.
I want to write books people love.