September 29, 2014

the butter to my bread


I'm going through a bit of a phase. Most nights I come home from work and plant myself in front of the television and watch movies on TV that I don't have any real interest in seeing. Or, I'll re-watch a movie I only vaguely enjoyed the first time around. Some might call this procrastination (I do have a novel to finish writing), but I like to think of this as giving some film crew a second chance at improving my opinion.

Okay, I'm procrastinating, but I'm in a mood.

It was in the midst of this kick that I found myself re-watching Julie & Julia on my Friday night instead of pushing my way through Chapter Nine. The first time I watched the movie I was in a different place. I was 23, living in Houston and working my way through every movie at the Redbox. And I enjoyed it. I mean, it was written by Nora Ephron, stars Meryl Streep, and is about food and blogging. Of course I liked it. But it isn't one of my favorite movies. Not something I should drop everything to sit and watch.

So there I was, watching Amy Adams and Meryl Streep use an obscene amount of butter when we reach the point of the movie (SPOILER ALERT) that Julie Powell and her blog are featured in the New York Times and the next day she ends up with a long list of publishers and agents lining up to turn her blog into a novel.

It's a nice thought, but that's not really how it works, is it? Maybe every so often you find yourself on a reality TV show and people willing to ghostwrite your book to earn you even more money. More often than not, you keep plugging away while you find yourself tempted to hate complete strangers.

And I won't even say I begrudge Julie Powell the offers or her success--she worked for them and was innovative. But it's a bit of a bummer for the rest of us writers, isn't it? I mean, we write, we blog, we try to make something happen, and it doesn't always pan out. Instead of screening phone call after phone call with offers, we're cuddled up with our kittens ready to watch the encore screening of a movie we've just sat through (but missed the first half hour).

That's when it happens. During the first half hour (ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT) you see just how bummed Julie Powell is before she starts her blog and even throughout the first part of her journey. She's not sure anyone is reading her work and feels like she's just tossing out words into a void and no one cares.

Now that is something we (I) get, right?

And while we might share some similarities with our fellow writers, we're all on our own path. No two of us is exactly the same. We each have to forge our own way. What's the point of making comparisons then? It'll only end in us driving ourselves crazy.

What do we do when we're in that funk? Do we:
a) Give up
b) Keep going

There's no right or wrong answer--only the one that's right for you or me.

So what's it going to be? I know my answer. Because even when it doesn't seem to be going anywhere, writing is the butter to my bread.


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  1. One of my favorite quotes: "Don't compare your Chapter One to someone else's Chapter Twenty." I don't know who originally said it (it's all over the place, but nobody seems to attribute it), but whoever it was was/is brilliant. We have to just move through our own story, our own process, and not compare. I'm here, cheering for you all the way.

  2. All so true. I'm cheering, too, Laura, as you have always done for me. Excellent post!