Feb 9, 2014

Debby Downer Reads a Book and Gets Depressed

"This book is just you and me, in writing therapy together, so we can talk about what it means to be a writer and why the writing life is worth living."

That's it. That's the book.

This is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World by Kerri Majors is a series of essays not about writing but living with the aspiration of becoming a writer. Using her own experiences, Majors gives candid advice about how to live and to expect to live in the future as a young, aspiring writer. 

Hey, wait, doesn't that related to my iQuest project? So, as a young, aspiring writer, I decided to take a chance and read this book.

I'll be completely honest: I hate reading about writing. You'd be surprised how many books and websites there are that are basically training manuals to be a "better" writer. I tend to avoid things like that. They just make me second-guess myself. Am I a bad writer? Am I doing this wrong? I don't do that, should I do that? Wait, I do this, should I not? Yaddah yaddah, blah blah blah, on and on, and then in the end they say "But if it doesn't work for you, you don't have to do it." Then why tell me to do it in the first place?!

Really, these kinds of things just end up making me depressed and self-conscious.

This book was really no different. But in a different way.

As a teenager, Kerri Majors participated in writing competitions and she shared her writing with anyone with time on their hands. In college she majored in art history instead of creative writing. She made writer friends. She did a whole bunch of stuff I don't do and have no real plan of doing and it just makes me think that maybe I should. But I really don't want to. And if I don't want to, what does that mean? It doesn't mean anything really, but still, what could it mean?

And that was just halfway through the book.

After that, she talks about being an adult who still hasn't landed her first book deal (The Big One, as she calls it). She talked about how there were publishers who looked at her writing, editors who asked her to make changes to her writing, about getting her hopes up over this, and then getting rejected. What a downer. She talked about being jealous over friends who got published, about getting frustrated at never making it, about not being sure if she ever would, about not doing things that would "kill your creativity." Lots of really disheartening stuff.

But wait, there's a plus side? This book was really, REALLY helpful because, at the end, there's an appendix of jobs! A list of what she refers to as "real jobs," she catalogues more than a few jobs that relate to using words in a "creative way" and gives a slightly-less-than-detailed-more-than-brief description about it. There were jobs like journalist, editor, copywriter, lawyer, entrepreneur, and whole bunch others. Just, after being completely depressed and unsure, it was really nice to read about all these other more stable jobs that would still let me indulge in my passion for writing and even give me time to work on my own stuff. Best part.

All in all, it was a good book and a decent read and, for someone a tad more optimistic than me, this would've actually been (dare I say it) inspiring. If you're really into writing and plan on continuing it in the future, this is definitely a book you should read. If not, might I suggest Harry Potter?

1 comment:

  1. Again, I look forward to reading your blogs posts each week....however, this Debbie Downer tilt is getting old. Find something in life that makes you smile, then write about it! Did you make it through the entire book....I love the aspect about the list of job....that was good info.