Yesterday was a bad writing day.
I got up at the usual time and put in my two and a half hours and hated what I wrote. It wasn’t terrible or disturbing or ungrammatical, it was boring—which is, in my opinion, the worst thing writing can be.
Then I switched to the commercial ad work I do to pay the bills and waded into one of those jobs where the client has thrown her entire desk full of 40-page PowerPoint decks at you and demanded you make sense of it. I wrestled with obscure graphs and marketing speak for another three hours, getting nowhere.
By this time it was nearly noon and I felt like a total waste.
So I finally took a look at the various streams of content I have coming in. And here’s what I discovered: What had been a shitty morning for me was a time of clarity and brilliance for many of my colleagues. Maybe there’s just so much good writing mojo to go around…
First, I read this wonderful blog on writing fiction by Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughter. It’s all about barreling through the boring (!) sections of a story. And she deconstructs great works by Larry McMurtry and Rosellen Brown to make her points. Read it for the advice and for the list of great books.
Then I read this very funny piece by Lydia Netzer that prompted me to read an even better post (from way back in April) called 15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years. I’m not usually a fan of those Cosmo-style “37 Sexual Positions That Will Blow His Mind” stories. But Netzer has a witty way and her advice is actually damn good. I particularly like “Stop Thinking Temporarily,” though I’m not sure she intended for it to have the double meaning it did…
But the crowning achievement of the day (the week, the month, maybe the year) was Marie Myung-Ok Lee‘s Atlantic essay, What My Son’s Disabilities Taught Me About ‘Having It All’. This piece is a response to a story written by Anne-Marie Slaughter earlier this year. Slaughter was a woman with a fabulous, exciting job, a loving, understanding husband and two healthy, well-adjusted teenagers who whined for more than a dozen magazine pages about how she couldn’t “have it all.” I loathed her article when it came out, though I couldn’t quite articulate why. In a single page, Lee answers the central flaw in Slaughter’s elitist argument. When I read this, I cheered silently. And I suspect there were women all over America doing the same.
Yesterday was a gruesome writing day for me but an excellent reading day. Sometimes, that’s the way it works.