Once upon a time

I’m not sure I can write fiction.

Let me rephrase. I’m not sure I can write fiction anyone wants to read. I probably haven’t worked at it enough, and I won’t give up. My dialogue is unnatural. It doesn’t sound the way people talk. The characters don’t feel authentic.

Running through all of it is the doubt. Who am I to pretend to be a man? How can I possibly know how a man thinks or what he thinks about? Everyone will assume this is what I think. People will think these characters are them. My friends will be embarrassed for me. My sex scenes make even me blush. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

This year, a student asked me if he had any talent and should he write? It doesn’t matter what I think, I told him. What matters is that you are compelled to write, and so you must. I can give you tips. I can teach you tricks. I can tell you what I would change, as your editor. But don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough or you shouldn’t.

I am unable to take my own advice. What kind of teacher can I be if I don’t live the advice I give?


About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
This entry was posted in Essays/Commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Once upon a time

  1. Meghan says:

    Perhaps I am crazy, but I think we all dole out the advice we want to hear and that we strive to accept. You know the advice is true, and correct and you believe it, you just have a tiny bit of trouble trusting yourself, another problem I think most of us suffer from. My advice to you is the following. Who cares? Who cares what people assume you think? who cares how they feel about the sex scenes? I recognize you have an audience here on this blog and you do cater your writing somewhat to that. As far as I know, you have not had a piece of fiction published, yet, and that is a blessing: you don’t have an audience to write to or for, you write for yourself! Just write it! Even in the end if it is not published you will have an accomplishment and I can only assume you like to write so, it WILL be a success just in that it has been completed! When done, have a trusted male look at the male thoughts and conversations and edit accordingly.

    I am beginning to learn about “the system” of film and writing because of my own daughter’s aspirations. We have told her “no back up plan, just focus on what you want.” So, we have researched and been blessed in finding industry professionals to mentor her. The point is you and I know it isn’t just talent that gets your books published/read, and it is clear you are talented. You also need connections and based on what you have written before, you have those as well. So, I say to you: get the book written, get it edited, then get it published woman!

    Unsolicited advice from a Jewish mother, it’s what we do!

    • This is good advice. You’re compelled to write, and so you do. You’ll figure it out. Just keep writing.

    • Mrs Odie says:

      Jewish mother me! I can take it!

      I love what you have said to your daughter. My parents (oddly, it was my bio-father and step-father, who were friends – long story) did the opposite. Each projected his own insecurities and fears onto me. I don’t know if one or both of them feared I would be broken-hearted if I tried to write for a living and failed, or if they feared they would be broken-hearted if I succeeded at being a writer, even more than they themselves had. It doesn’t matter now. Thinking what my life would have been “if only” is an exercise in misery and bitterness.

      Thank you for your readership and your support.

      • Meghan says:

        It is strange advice coming from two soldiers! Both Military Police at that (I’ve gotten out, dad is still in). There is only one life and it must be lived. If she ends up living at home for the rest of her life because she doesn’t make it in writing/film, well I actually do enjoy her, so her company would be loved. She’s a senior in HS next year and our joke is we will have to send her to a mainstream college with a good writing/film/theater program so she can meet someone to marry that can pay the bills. If we send her to an artsy school, everyone will be poor like her. I definitely think she can write brilliantly, but again that isn’t all it takes to pay the bills. Hey maybe as a FANTASTIC writer/English teacher who also has connections, you would like to mentor a young lady? Because I know you aren’t that busy, please read that last bit with the intended sarcasm.

        Finally, there is no need for the “if only” game. I know life isn’t perfect for any of us but look where yours has taken you: to Odie, who seems to be a good match for you; to two healthy, bright, young daughters that you will navigate their teen years with skill, because you already “handle” so many teenagers at work; to so many fantastic life experiences that you can embellish with your word skills and use to amuse the masses (which in turn helps you laugh at some of the more painful happenings); to an ability to inwardly reflect and try and better yourself, which then also betters those you love most. You may not have the life you thought you were going to get, but I believe fully you have the one you needed and was best suited for you and had the most positive impact on those around you. Besides it is not too late to do even MORE with your life (but again you’ve done so much already). So keep pushing forward!

  2. Carolina says:

    I definitely think you should write. Write whatever. Write fiction, make real life stories told in a truthful manner into fictional stories by changing the names to protect the guilty. Make stuff up out of whole cloth. A mix of both. Write recipes, write a fucking phone book. Just write. Because the world needs more writers like you, who have the rare combination of an authentic voice paired with a truly developed craft.

    I thought of you recently, as a stressful situation landed me crying in the corner of the bathroom floor, and I thought “I’m having a hybrid Mrs. Odie + Liz Gilbert moment”, where I was on the floor, in a pile of sobs (reference back to your “Coming Attractions” entrance, where you say “Pringles triumphantly stood up on my ottoman only to tumble backwards and land in a pile of screams.”)

    Maybe that was an insignificant moment to you as a writer. As a reader, the pure poetry in the phrase “pile of screams” speaks huge volumes about what you can do with words. So, keep doing it.

    • Mrs Odie says:

      I’m sorry I’ve taken many days to respond. Your comment is important to me. You took time and effort to type this out for me in order to encourage me. What a wonderful thing to do. Thank you for doing it. Thank you for reading.

Comments are closed.