A Writer is Never Complete

Excuse the faux-artsy photo, folks. It’s the first nice night of Spring and I’m out on the porch enjoying the weather. This is the best I could do in such low light.

This month, Joanna Young, the fantastic writing coach behind Confident Writing is running a group writing project called Writing Lessons:

The topic is writing lessons – in particular the writing lessons you’ve learned from your blog community.

Those writing lessons might be the ways in which your blog writing style has changed and developed, new forms that you’ve tried, or writing experiments you’ve done off the blog as a result of feedback and interaction with your community.

What a timely post.

With my recent change still looming large, I’ve spent a little time reviewing how far I’ve come in the last year. And, in perhaps one of the biggest coincidences of all time, I received an email today from a new reader asking me about a post I wrote nearly a year ago, “What to do when the one you love hates your writing?”:

I guess the question I ask when I read that is, if you know she is going to hate it, then why do you make her read it? That’s like requiring my wife to watch a bunch of guy movies with me when I know she doesn’t like them, and then being annoyed when she still doesn’t like them.

F.R.R. Mallory asked basically the same question in the comments on that post. If you take a peek, you’ll also see that my comments in reply are still running under the name “editor“.

A year is a long time…

In the last year, I’ve learned not to push my work on people who don’t want to read it. I’ve learned I don’t need that kind of validation (even if it is nice). I’ve also learned not to hide behind anonymous pen names (unless the pay is right). I’ve also learned to accept the kind of writing I do as just fine. And finally, I’ve learned that learning is a constant process: a writer is never complete.

The community here at How Not to Write has grown, especially after I stopped hiding behind “editor“. I mentioned this transformation in “Why King Moonracer is My Hero”:

After that post went up, HNTW sort of went from an obscure place where I spoke mostly to myself and a handful of friends, into an experiment in connecting with people. It is still growing, but I can say that it is a wonderful little community of writers. I share with these writers my thoughts and struggles, my triumphs and failures. Together we overcome the fear that is so prevalent in the world of would-be writers.

Perhaps this is the greatest lesson I’ve learned here on my blog: I’ve learned not to be afraid, even if I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve learned not to hide, even when I’m bound to make a fool of myself. I’ve learned that being a part of the broader writing community is so much more than just retweeting posts and leaving comments. It’s about helping and learning, because a writer is never complete. It’s about learning to live and be happy with who you are.

Thank you, everyone!

17 thoughts on “A Writer is Never Complete

  1. As always, thanks for the inspiring words. I appreciate your authenticity, even though I continue to hide behind my own pen name.

    uppington´s last blog post..Time Out

  2. Hi Jamie; I haven’t left the planet just too swamped to comment unless I can’t avoid commenting. And I can’t avoid commenting – this is brilliant. Most of my life my real self, including my writing self, has been hiding behind the things I do. So now that I have cut off the major sources of demands for more doing; who the heck am I and what do I really want to do.

    (ps – I always liked King Moonracer too. And I still get a chuckle from Cornelius’ corny line “How do you like that; even among misfits we’re misfits.” *sigh* I so resemble that remark)

    Deb´s last blog post..Soaring into spring

  3. Jamie, thanks so much for writing this piece. I find it both inspiring and true, and that’s not always an easy combination to achieve 🙂 I’m so glad I’ll be able to share it with others when I publish the contributions to the group writing project at the end of this month. I know a lot of people will take heart from your words.

    Joanna Young´s last blog post..10 Things I’ve Learned About Writing and Tenacity

  4. What a lovely post you’ve here, Jamie. I loved the ways you described about what you’ve learned throughout the year! Keep up the good work…

  5. @Wyatt Glad to provide. Thanks for dropping in!

    @uppington Some day, my friend. Some day. 🙂

    @Deb! Good to see you back, but I hope you won’t get distracted if I post too many little ditties like this one. 🙂 I’m roaring through my work right now because I know that it’s just me out there on my own. That’s on heck of a motivator. Hope you’re able to find a similar groove!

    @Joanna Thanks for RTing my post like crazy today! Lots of new friends! I’m just glad I could participate in this month’s project. I’ve been meaning to do more of this stuff, but it’s a matter of time (which I suddenly seem to have oceans of, but at the same time it seems to vaporize before my eyes).

    @Barbara I’ll do the best I can, even if I sing off key. 😉

    @Lis I’m glad you found the post and I’m glad you liked it!!

    @Wilson Thanks! You might try it yourself. The link to Joanna’s project is up at the top of the page. Anyone can jump in!

  6. Jamie,
    “It’s about helping and learning, because a writer is never complete” – that’s exactly what I learned from the 9 months of blogging, though in my case I would replace “writer” with “blogger” because my blog isn’t a writing blog. (or writer’s blog?).
    Thanks for this post!

    Ulla Hennig´s last blog post..Vivaldi,The Four Seasons: Spring

  7. Jamie,

    Thanks for another great post and for all you do encouraging writers to write (and sometimes not to write–but to read at least!). Congratulations on “quitting your day job.” That’s exciting–a move toward what you want. I’d like to offer you a place in my Techniques course–a master class in craft for writers. It’s an amazing approach that I learned (and learned so much from) in a course taught by the late, great Stephanie Moore. Your readers can win a free month by commenting on my current blog post–but you, you win it (earn it!) upfront by everything you do to build community–which is really what being a writer is about in a key way. Let me know if you want to come. It’s by telephone on Wednedays 6 – 7:10 p.m. PST and it’s fun.


    Elizabeth Stark´s last blog post..Write Well and Sell, Plus TWO GIVEAWAYS!

  8. Your “experiment in connecting with people” has gotten to be such a joyous romp for those of us who are experimenting with you Jamie! Tinker Toys come to mind for me at this moment… all the colors, all the shapes, all the gangly sticks poking out waiting for our writer’s and reader’s fingers to play and connect them somehow. Such fun.

    Rosa Say´s last blog post..That life? It’s all yours!

  9. @Ulla I think it’s possible to use that phrase with most anything one in which one finds their true passion. 🙂

    @Elizabeth Thanks so much!!! That does indeed sound like a lot of fun! I’ll send you an email! 🙂 [Here’s a link to the post, folks. Comment and get your chance to win!]

    @Rosa Thanks so much, Rosa. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people on this journey… I hope it never ends. 🙂 Mahalo nui loa!

  10. I came from the Confident Writing blog site to yours. I wanted to know who you are — like a name, where you live or things like this. I couldn’t find anything on the blog. It would have been nice to know if I had a connection. The title of the blog doesn’t really want me to subscribe.

  11. @Catherine Um. Not sure what to say about a comment like that. There’s a link right at the top of the page that says “ABOUT ME”. I know it’s kind of shocking but if you click the link you go to a page that talks all about me.

  12. LOL. Who’d have ever thought that About Me would mean exactly what it says? Catherine, I believe the idea of the blog title is fairly clear – if you’re here, you’re not writing. Small joke. Jamie is funny that way.

    uppington´s last blog post..Integrity and the Writer

  13. I never did have much of a sense of humor. I’m learning (I hope!).

    I really like to know who I’m listening too. I used to have a problem with my name until I studied with Deepak Chopra for a year and learned all the psychological backgound with it and also the release it helps in the way you write. My writing changed in wonderful ways after his exerise in the acknowledgment of my name. I was never published until after this exercise and since the number is now over 40,000 times.

    I accept the joy in our differences. Looking for some good writing blogs at this time. For me they are a break from my writing, especially since I write about 5 hours or more a day, 7 days a week. Just another side of the coin.

    Catherine Franz´s last blog post..Desktop Searches Made Easier

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