Why can’t I just be a writer?

“Why Can’t I Just…” Christine Shyne 2019 limited edition

Or, if a writer writes a book in the woods and no one reads it, is she still a writer?

I have had the desire to be a writer since I was in 7th grade, maybe earlier. Back then I wrote stories about run-aways who would get “saved” by older brother type characters. It was so much fun. But I never finished the stories and no one ever read them, even me, after they were written. That was okay at the time but it became less okay as I got older. Now I just want people to hear my voice. More than writing, though, I have practiced criticizing myself, procrastinating, searching for the right tool, class, book, or trick that would propel me into the realm of “writer.”

I know the hard answer to this question. A writer writes. Right?

And there are so many stories about writers.

Most of them are not failing-to-launch kinds of writers. Sometimes they are struggling after an incident – like they were successful and then something happened and now they have writer’s block – until they fall in love! This is usually the ending. Sometimes it will end with some poignant realization that opens them up to inspiration. But usually it is the writer falling in love. Do writers always have trouble with relationships?


What about a 40-something woman who has always wanted to write – has fallen in love, is married with two children who are almost out of the house – but she has never finished a novel – any novel – not just that one novel that launches or relaunches her career. Just any book.

I would like to write and publish a book called, “Is this the book that will make me a published writer? And other stories of late-in-the-game success – or “How to fail and Fail and Fail and Then Finally Have Some Marginal Success.” Or “Trying self-publishing. ” I don’t know – even the title is a work in progress. I just thought of it right now.

I am not even sure what I would write about in this book except a memoir or essays or something. It could be a novel I guess but it would be more than a little autobiographical.

I have the time. I even have the resources to do some amount of training or classes. Maybe not a lot of travel to be inspired – but if I got my act together, I will be traveling with family later in the year and I could use those opportunities to write. Like all those movies about writers who sit in coffee shops, or the hotel room, or whatever, typing into a computer, writing in a notebook (which is getting harder and harder for me all the time). Their problems often seem one-pronged rather than many pronged which I think is what my problem is. I don’t have experience plotting a full story, fleshing out full characters or even finishing a first shitty draft. So where do I (re) start?

I keep telling myself I will get/grab a book/take a class/order an online course and follow it all the way through, do each of the exercises in earnest. If it’s a college class I will finish it, and I usually will do the assignments if there are any stakes (pass/fail, a grade, a person on the other end). But I don’t feel I ever really pay attention to the assignments because I spend so much time AVOIDING THE WRITING.

So….. do I really want to write? Or do I just want to have written? Or just call myself a writer? I could do that without all this pain and procrastination and self-criticism. Self-hatred, actually. I beat myself up for this quite a bit – it’s one of my favorite beefs with myself; my inability to commit and complete a significant piece of writing.

How do I stop this cycle? Or at least move the cycle the smallest bit forward? I do find comfort in the fact that many writers go through this painful sequence, even successful writers. I find a loophole with which to beat myself up further in that whoever is telling me about this writer, or the writer who is talked about, has written and published the thing I am reading – and I have not!

Is there hope for a 40-something writer to get her first publication credit?

Deep down I know the answer. It is, of course, yes. I’m just not confident that that 40-something woman writer is me.  I am not looking for comfort, or encouragement. I just want to eventually get to the writing.

from “Why Can’t I just…” Christine Shyne, 2019

Now….. for an idea…..

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