Don’t Worry, Write Anyway

In her book, Fierce on the Page, Sara Cohen  insists that authors be happy first no matter where they stand on the fame and fortune continuum.  This belies our whole tortured artist myth, that validation, and accidentally, happiness can only be achieved with publication the sharp spires of which beckon  as our own shinning  city on the hill.  This is about as true as black being flattering to all complexions.

You seem both shocked that contrary to fashion magazine claims, the little black dress isn’t universally perfect, and shocked that the end of the rainbow does not lead to a pot of gold, or happiness.  I understand.  When my first book published.  I felt satisfaction, pleasure, had a celebratory drink and immediately  had to get to work because promoting a published book is critical, required,  and lead  to increased crankiness.  Not happiness.

If that is true, how can a writer possibly be happy?

The first strategy is to understand our mythology.  Our favorite myth is that all writers want to be published.  And all published authors are happy.  More specifically, published authors are happier than YOU.   This myth perpetuates the erroneous idea that  all our work will be in vain if we don’t publish.  And not just any publisher, our work must be published by one of the big 5, 4, 3 – the only traditional publisher left.

What if the writing itself makes you happy?   

  Write HappyI am a life-long writer, can’t help it. The work may change, but the process stays very much the same because I love the process.  My goal for writing is that the work will increase in satisfaction and flow the more I do it.  I want the writing in my 80s to be even more satisfying than writing in my 50’s  which is considerably more satisfying than writing in my 20s was. In my twenties, I wanted to have written. I wanted the finished project and the imagined all the acclaim and satisfaction that a published book would bring.  In short, even though the actual process was miserable and difficult, I knew I would be happy once the damn thing was finished and published.

I ended up dropping the awful novel ( A romance. I am not a romance writer evidenced by the excruciating process) in favor of planning a trip to Europe.  Better use of my time.  I remember the trip, it made me happy.  The only thing I remember about that novel was the rejection letter.    

Concentrate on the process – the hours you will spend on creating your work.  Are you happy in those hours?  I’m betting you are.  That’s the happiness. That should be the goal: doing what makes you happy, not waiting in vain for validation from strangers.

So what will make you really happy?

Do you long to announce your book project at family dinners to show you are creative, erudite and introspective?

Will holding the title – Writer – make you more important?

Will adding writer to your Linked In account give you a thrill?

Will wearing the writer’s costume give you deep satisfaction?  (Note, the writer costume does not include a cape, rather it often consists of an old college sweatshirt and yoga pants covered in dog hair) (But being able to wear yoga pants all day confers on many of us, tremendous happiness).

Some writers are happy to have something to do while sipping their lattes at Starbucks, so an afternoon in a cafe noodling around on your laptop, feeling part of the tribe is time well spent.

If explaining the plot of your yet unwritten work delights you.  Then do that.

If endlessly editing your epic poem from 5:00 to 6:30 PM every weekday soothes your soul.  Do that.

If you can turn yourself into a writer who loves the process, and revels in the zone of writing, the doing of it, you will truly win this game.

Whatever you do, don’t believe that publication will lead you through to the beautiful sunset into which you will walk, sunlight streaming from your slender limbs, all troubles and cares erased from your now bright future.  It won’t.  Publication ends up being just one more damn thing to do.

Finding happiness in your work, in the beauty and wonder of putting words to the page, that will last forever.

So stop worrying and just keep writing.  That will make you happy.  Promise.

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And THANK YOU

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TBT Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has to be the ultimate Throw Back Thursday.

Of course there are photos.  And after all the effort putting out the good china, aligning the silver (with that ruler from the opening credits of Downton Abbey) and family crystal, by god, I’m taking a photo of the table. You may also take photos of the food because you work All Fucking Day on a meal that drunk relatives consumed in a manner of minutes.

Ah, good times, fond memories.

Happy Thanksgiving – remember to make up stories to entertain the family members who were actually there but don’t remember the event in quite the same way.

Catharine's Family 2015

My two sons, their wives both of whom kept their own names (good job ladies!), my husband and our granddaughter.

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Our Town Tuesday

“Does anyone ever realize lifeOur Town Tuesday
while they live it…
every, every minute?”

What if we lived one day a week
Not looking for the meme –
Hump Day
TGIF

Not focused on its end
Getting through
Getting it over with
Finishing up
in favor
Of a better future
that more Special Day

Stay in this day – Our Town Tues.
(#OTT)
Please note:
The oatmeal – steel cut or not
The song on the playlist
The mustard between the winter vines
Unbroken shoelaces

Thank:
A place to go
A voice who answers
Electricity and hot water

Acknowledge the pennies
From the cashier
as if
It were your last sentence

Celebrate the ordinary
the sky held overhead by mysterious forces
The earth that this morning, remains still.
Air – Flush toilets – Delivered mail

Realize life
In this least important day
This Tuesday
Like a saint
Like a poet

It will be important enough.

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I Make Lots of Plans

Poem, I make lots of PlansYou know the theory: if you want something really badly, make other plans and it will appear. It’s like when you want the children to do A, but they refuse and do B. Ignore them, and work on A all by yourself, they will hustle right over (whitewashing a fence comes to mind).  So if you want to get pregnant, find that perfect job.  If you want to move, fall in love in situ.  Never fails.  Okay, once it failed. I made other plans in January and it’s April and nothing has happened.

Don’t listen to me.

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The Price of Knowledge

Poem, the Price of Knowledge

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Traveling Light

I’m traveling light this week.  I travel with my husband and with my mother, sometimes separately, sometimes together. And I always travel light – one carry on, one briefcase (I’m carrying a Think Tank LilyDeanne bag – love it).  What do you carry?  That’s the big fat metaphor of course, what baggage Traveling Lightare we lugging around?  What can we leave behind? How many shoes, really can we wear in three weeks?

Travel light, you can go faster, farther and if you’re like me, you’ll end up carrying your mother’s luggage anyway.

Now that’s a metaphor.

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I Thought there was Only Tomato

Poem by #CatharineBramkampwriter

I did!  I thought there was just one kind of Andy Warhol soup. Which just shows that a person can’t know everything about modern art or pop art.  I share my surprise with you.

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Those Slow Corduroy Afternoons

Those slow Corduroy afternoons

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We May Never Have Eternity

We have eternity Fabulous sewer cover courtesy of Bergen, Norway

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Morning

Poem: art always lies

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