The books from my "on writing" shelf on Goodreads

Wanting to write

I’ve fantasized about being a writer probably since the end of high school. In spite of the anxiety about writing that came with my undiagnosed ADHD–or maybe because of it–I wanted to artfully wield my pen and conquer the written word.

Also I’m kind of a hipster and I love that hipster shit: Moleskine notebooks, leather book bags, that smell when flipping through the pages of a book. I’ve long envied the Brooklyn/Portland/Oakland hipster lifestyle, sitting in a coffee shop drinking my flat white and typing on my Macbook.

Why writing though?

I’ve read about thirty-eleven books on writing over the past couple years.

The books from my
Okay I haven’t read all of them. But most of them, yeah.

I’m all about meta-writing. I’m a linguist. That’s my thing. Words about words.

Previous attempts at creative writing

I tried writing a novel one night in elementary school. Gave up after 20 minutes. I don’t think I understood the writing process then.

In middle school I wrote bad AU fanfiction in which our favorite Yu-Gi-Oh! characters were in our tiny bubble of a world. I forgot what it’s called when you do that, inserting yourself in a story. Honestly I don’t care to find out. I still have cringey feelings about that time that prevent me from enjoying fanfiction.

I wrote some decent sonnets in 10th and 11th grade. My musically-trained ear and newfound interest in language turned poems into fun puzzles. Plus I was having a lot of feelings at the time, mostly about boys. (That sentence could be used to describe literally any period in my life.)

After the poetry phase I lossed all interest in creative writing for nearly a decade. Then this happened.

A writer’s origin story

Back in 2015 I briefly dated a guy. MFA in creative writing, trying to make it as a screenwriter, worked as an SAT tutor on the side. Not exactly rare in LA, but at that point I’d pretty much only dated STEM dudes. I wanted someone different and he was a ~creative~. Plus he was flirty and had good date suggestions. Yeah, my standards are a lot higher now.

I remember telling him I admired his dedication, sitting down to write for hours every day. Nearly a month went by before I asked to read his work.

Warning: Never have sex with a writer before reading their work. As you can probably guess, I learned this the hard way.

The piece was a script for the pilot episode of a web series. The director loved it, apparently.

I’m gonna save your eyeballs, I won’t post it here. But you should know: YOU CANNOT HIDE A GUN THERE. No, not even a Derringer. Also if that’s how you write your women, I do not want to date you. I do not want to know you. Just, ew.

And I thought, “Well damn, I don’t even write fiction and I can write better than this.”

Mindset

Even before meeting MFA guy (do you think he really has an MFA? Maybe it was all a lie…) I had already been frequenting /r/writing and /r/writingprompts, but after this weeks-long rage-induced critique-fest, partially encouraged by Becca and Ashleigh agreeing with my criticism, I started sponging up all the writing resources I could.

Soon after the pilot episode episode I started my internship in El Segundo. On that hellscape commute from the the valley I listened to Stephen King’s On Writing on audiobook. It’s fantastic. I published a post about it on my old blog. Here’s an excerpt:

What stood out to me the most wasn’t the inspiration or the magic that created King’s novels. There wasn’t a lot of magic happening. It was the pure hard work. He worked his ass off, submitting stories all through high school and college. He collected all his rejection letters and hung them from a stake on his wall. He didn’t cry and give up when publishers failed to hand him a life of success on a silver platter.

The story of Stephen King isn’t one of creative inspiration. It’s one of blood, sweat, and determination. I’m sure he had a lot of latent talent (wow that’s fun to type). I’m sure he was a top-notch wordsmith from the beginning. But his success came from the work, not the talent.

As I’d learned from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, good writers aren’t innately talented. They’ve worked at it. Which means I can work at it.

Why do I want to work at it? Because I’m tired of these TRASH CISHET MEN writing and producing TRASH FICTION when there are so many talented people whose stories never get told. I have stories worth telling!

Just remove men from all media for a few decades. We need to correct for the historical imbalance.

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