Damn This Writer's Heart


For many, the making of the writer is a bloody affair. It consists of trying and failing, trying and succeeding only to find one’s self blocked by the promise of a breakthrough, trying once more…

Where does this drive come from? What makes the writer who has failed sit down and try once more?

I don’t claim to know the answer. I’m just a fellow sufferer of the disease.

Damn this writer’s heart. Damn it for making me feel…

Yet, if we knew the answer, would it matter? Would it some how solve the problem? Would it help us to make sense of what it means to posses all these words which are so desperate to make the page?

I doubt it. It seems unlikely that knowing would dampen the drive. In fact, knowing the answer would probably make the suffering all that more acute.

My first experience with the writer’s heart came when I was just 10 years old. I bought a typewriter at a garage sale. It was an old Royal office model, a hulking bit of metal that hardly functioned.

I lugged this old typewriter back to my house and set it up on the desk in my room. The excitement I felt at the promise of this machine was intense, and really no different than I feel now when I approach the keys. After staring at the thing for awhile, I sat down and began to type.

The first thing I wrote was a love letter. This shouldn’t be a surprise since I’m such a sap (and proud of it). I have a romantic soul. I find beauty in the most mundane objects and I fall in love every day with some odd thing or another. It might be a cloud or a tree. It might be a book or an ancient motorcycle. It might be the sea. And of course, there is my wife… I fall in love with her each day no matter what happens.

This love letter though was the first. I wrote it without concern for style. It was direct and simple. Can I recall the words? Hardly. Though I know that I signed it anonymously and I begged that if this girl knew who I was that she wouldn’t tell anyone.

Of course, when I sent out the letter, I received no reply. I received no acknowledgement of receipt at school. I heard nothing at all and was left to wonder whether or not the girl received the letter at all. I still wonder and I’ve thought about asking her because I still run into her now and again.

Now why would I do that? Why would I insist on such anonymity? Why would I hide who I am?

This is the pattern of course. We write. We struggle. We send out our hearts and souls, and then perhaps, we hear a reply.

Damn these words that demand their place in the world. Damn this writer’s heart for giving them life while tearing mine apart.

This sentiment is probably familiar to many of you. You wonder why it is that in spite of the pain you continue on. You wonder why it is that at well-past midnight you are awake and staring at the screen or scribbling furiously in a notebook. Sometimes, you wish it would just go away, that you could be like everyone else, although more often it’s those around you who are apt to ask that question.

The answer I have for you is that you are writers. You are possessed by the writer’s heart, and there is nothing for you but the damnation of the page. Embrace it.

Damn your writer’s heart but do not despair. Damn your writer’s heart and revel in that which you are. Be writers.

Now get back to work! There are love letters to be written!

16 thoughts on “Damn This Writer's Heart

  1. “We write. We struggle. We send out our hearts and souls, and then perhaps, we hear a reply.”

    Damn you for telling it like it is. 🙂 Great post. Thanks to Tumblemoose for getting me on here!

    Genevieve´s last blog post..Beyond Four Legs

  2. Jamie,

    I’m with you on this stuff. Love the ancient typewriter story, by the way. Gearheads buy car parts on these same sorts of instincts. At least you were able to use the typewriter. There are millions of car guys out there who own parts that won’t fit on any car they ever owned. It is, to be sure, an affair of the romantic mind.

    Other than that, I got nothin’. Haven’t been able to find much time to write lately, which is aggravating me, and the aggravation makes me continue to wonder why I want to do it and what I’m supposed to do with it once whatever I’ve written is finished.

  3. Ace post!

    Perfect ending – “Damn your writer’s heart but do not despair. Damn you’re writer’s heart and revel in that which you are. Be writers.”

    Aditi Mathur´s last blog post..On Writers

  4. I agree – loved that last statement. Of course … were I an editor I would have gone after your grammar … (you’re writer’s) Sorry. I hate when people do that.

  5. Jamie, beautiful sentiments. Writing is heroic – we put our heart and soul out there and often it is met with silence and sometimes rejection. Reading your post made me feel brave and alive. Embracing my writer’s heart and seizing the day!

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..What’s in a Name?

  6. @Aditi Thanks!

    @Genevieve I’m an acknowledged champion of mistakes like that. 🙂 It’s especially bad when I’m writing fast and furious from the heart.

    @Karen Glad I could pep you up! Seemed like I needed something a bit vigorous as I’ve been shilling my iPhone wares a bit much of late. 😉

  7. @Glynis Probably not. My wife can bench her own body weight and I’m sure that she’d have something to say about it. LOL

    @Tom I have the same issues. My writing has taken a backseat to my coding lately. It’s necessary but I also feel like I’ve lost touch with my voice. Of course, as soon as I start thinking that, I get pissed off and then I go on a tear and write my heart out. It’s not the best method… hell, it’s not even a good method. Still, sometimes you gotta lay down the words as they’re given so that you can get on to the next thing. Charge!!!

  8. I miss the ka-chunk of typewriter keys hitting the paper. It must be why I’ve always liked the old IBM keyboards that require a real press of the keys.

    Amber´s last blog post..My Bookcase

  9. You know, I hear you. I feel that overpowering urge to create (not always understood by other folks) but I only wished it would go away when I had to resist, couldn’t give in to it because of life-stuff getting in the way. I finally stopped fighting it, and I’m so much happier for it. I’m writing more than ever, and I feel elated almost every single time I step away from the keyboard. I experience this “boo-yah, I did it!” sensation every time I meet my daily work count goal. It’s a good feeling, down in the ole heart.

    If other people enjoy my writing, too, that’s just extra goodie on top of the happiness sundae.

    Tracie W.´s last blog post..Need for Speed!

  10. “We write. We struggle. We send out our hearts and souls, and then perhaps, we hear a reply.”

    Very nice post. That’s the nice thing about blogs, as opposed to fiction. Sometimes we actually do hear a reply.

  11. Very nice, Jaimie. The writer’s heart doesn’t get enough airtime, and that’s what it’s all about. Love this consistent theme on your site.

    Wanted to thank you, too, for your kind comment about my guest blog on MenWithPens. ‘Preciate that.

    Wanted to tell you, too, another way we’re on the same page. As you can tell from the title of my latest post (noted below), I’m doing an ebook on writing tips. One of them is precisely what the title of your post today goes for: reading about writing instead of actually writing. Hanging is good as long as it’s not avoidance. Nice.

    Am subscribing to you now.

    Larry´s last blog post..“101 Tips” Preview: Tip #79 — Five Moments in Your Story You Must Understand Before You Can Write Something Saleable

  12. I get what you’re saying. I myself am a romantic. Every story that pops into my head be it short or just fooling around has a bit of romance in it. I don’t think life is worth it without love. To write your soul into whatever, be it(Love letter or short story or would be novel) is like tying a bungie cord to your ankle and hoping it bounces back.
    To have some kind of return for the effort, to make you feel you are at least worthy of acknowledgment.

    “To live without love is to swimming without water.”

    J.Morgan´s last blog post..“My first step”

  13. Missing your voice, Jamie! Every time I lose track, someone out there gives me a nudge, so I’m passing it along. Nudge!

    Seriously, hope all is well. Life gets in the way, doesn’t it?

  14. Thanks for the nudge, Tracie. Life does get int he way sometimes but only because we let it. I’ve allowed it to happen, bit by bit. However, I’m in the middle of a transition that should make it right.

    I’m working on a new post now about this very subject…

  15. The great thing about those old typewriters is that they are a workout to use. I have an ancient one that I had romantic notions about using to write delicate thank-yous and charming letters on. It takes practically a full-body push to press down the keys, and after one thank-you note I was sweating as hard as if I’d been for a run. At least the typewriter makes a charming decorative item in my family room.

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