Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dear Writergirl: Powered by you

Dear Writergirl, 

I'm a big fan of female superheroes, Wonderwoman and Xena in particular.  And now there's ...  Writergirl!   Cool.  Do you have any special powers?  Can you fly with your writing cape?  Cast magic spells with your special book?  Can you read invisible ink?  Spell perfectly while writing backward?  Whatever your powers, I'm already a big fan. Mysterious female superheroes are my weakness.


Dear Awestruck,

You do know how to start a girl off on the right foot. But let’s not dwell on my awesomeness right off the bat. A wise writer like you already knows that to get too caught up in your specialness will get you in trouble. You have to save that moxy for when you really need it, Awestruck, and if you are the writer you aim to be, you already know that, too.

Before we get into the business of spells, capes, and disappearing ink, I’ve got a shoutout for Deb, who for the past year has occupied this corner of cyberspace. She begged for a break, and I swooped in to help. Because that’s what I do, Awestruck. I help, which on the special-o-meter is way up at the top, right next to asking for help. We writers are a little overly shy about that, don’t you think? We believe we must be clever and smart. Confident and charming, with words that flow with grace, power, ease, profound insight, and of course wit.

Except that we aren’t, and they don’t.

This is why you have a thing for mysterious female superheroes, Awestruck. I’m not here to get all weird and gendercentric on you, but Wonderwoman and Xena, they rock because they’re oozing with passion, which our slight screwed-up culture allows to girls more than boys. Sure, your superheroes fight for justice and truth and all that, but you know what matters the most? They care.

Remember when you first decided you were going to be a writer? That nutso day when your world flipped itself inside out?  Maybe it crashed over you like a tsunami. Maybe it was more of a slow, irritating drip. Either way, I’ll bet at some point since then you’ve wished for a cape and a spell book, and while you were at it, a phone booth, not so much for your presto-change-o routine but for hiding out from the people who love you, people who would like to know why you couldn’t have taken up something safer and more productive than writing, say scrapbooking, or fly fishing, or detonating explosives.

Like every one of us writers, you’ve surely wished for invisible ink, so that no one – not even, or maybe especially, you its creator – could see the god-awful crap you’ve written as you slog your way to the good stuff. I know I have. Not just for the horrible poem I wrote when I was sixteen, about the boy whose blue eyes I was desperate to describe, except that I was way too scared to actually look at them. I could use it for the chapter I wrote last week. The paragraph I wrote yesterday. The sentence I just rewrote for the twenty-eighth time.

If I told you it got easier, I wouldn’t be much of a superhero, would I, sweetness? The work we do is hard, and the more we do it, the harder it gets. The ink stares you back in the face and the right words elude you and even when you punch the delete key like it’s the bully who kicked your little Pekinese and you start all over, it’s still not what you wanted, only an itsy bit better than the last twenty-eight tries. But that tiny improvement is a big, big deal, and you know how you got there? You cared.

This gig’s inconsistent as hell, if you want the truth. And I can tell you do want the truth, Awestruck, because you’ve got questions, and that’s where the truth gets its start.

You know what else is ultra-cool, darling? You’ve got a weakness, and you don’t care who knows it. That’s a fantastic thing in a writer, better by far – trust me on this - than a cape or a spell.

Truly yours,


Send your questions on writing, publishing, or anything else to Writergirl at askwritergirl@gmail.com. Don’t be shy – your identity won’t be revealed. Writergirl logo by James Stugart.

1 comment:

Savannah Rose said...

I love being a writer. Absolutely love it. And it is difficult especially since I can't write all day/every day. After twenty + years I've grown, educated myself, taken classes, and I'm sure the next twenty + years I will still feel the same anxiety when I sit down to start a piece of work. Will they like it? That's the biggest question running through my head. The one thing I have learned is that if I enjoyed writing it, then there is always going to be someone out there who will enjoy it just as much when they read it.

I really enjoyed reading your posts. Thank you.