You Should Be Writing


This is the blog post in which I talk about the wonderful writing conference I just came from and mortality all in one breath. But why? Why would you do that to us, Jordan? Is it because you taught your class on “persistent productivity” in a room full of skulls?

Alas, poor Yorick, no; I consider it mere metaphor, the universe speaking to me in its funny manner of symbols that I gave my lecture beside a skeleton in a room full of skulls, but it is thematically relevant.

Skeleton and me

Here’s the thing that came to me most vividly as I stood looking out at forty eager (live) faces, and not all of us spring chickens, either: you should go to writing conferences set in gorgeous beach towns, where locals who care a whole damn lot about what they do put on a conference designed to cheer and encourage you toward your writing.

You should put yourself in environments where people support you in doing more of your wonderful, weird thing, which makes you happy even if it doesn’t make you money.

You should write that crazy story that may have absolutely no marketability but which makes you happy to write it.

You should take that leap of faith and quit your grueling day job to take a less well-paying job that allows you time to write.

For most of my young to adult life, I have had a conscious awareness of being young, and a sense that this youthfulness was stretching on for a pleasurably long time. I did not suffer the ailments of aging yet that made other people say things like, “getting old sucks” and “youth is wasted on the young.”

And then I turned 40 and even though 40 is the new 25 apparently and I still don’t feel old, something happened in my brain. I became aware that time, which used to kindly move slowly, more tortoise than hare, is suddenly picking up its pace. And suddenly I have to admit, I find myself thinking about death a lot more. Every time I drive or fly more than a few miles away from my husband and son I think keenly how much I love them, and hope that I will return to them. Sounds morbid? It’s not, let’s be real: we all have the never-blinking eye of the Internet to remind us of all the daily, senseless tragedy in the world. Mothers who have car accidents. Fathers whose planes go down. Children who disappear after school.

My point is not to freak you out, but to light a similar fire under your butt if you find yourself stopped, stuck, unmoving in the murk of some reason or fear about your writing.

Go places that encourage your writing. Hang out with people who get you, and urge you to do more of what you do. Write more. Because: life. Because: death.

My work has recently appeared or is forthcoming at: Brain, Child, Coachella Review, Modern Loss, ReWire Me, Role/Reboot, The Rumpus and Shebooks.

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or sign up for my newsletter. Also check out my books: Night Oracle, Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time and, Forged in Grace. For a dose of optimism, read my column, The Persistent Optimist, at Sweatpants & Coffee.

The Second Annual Plot & Scene Writing Retreat with Martha Alderson happens at the Mt. Madonna Retreat Center, May 1-3, 2015. The retreat is small and fills fast. Don’t miss out!
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Photo, “Day of the Dead” by Robert Ashley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License.

JordanYou Should Be Writing