Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Remember the Wednesday Essay? Well it's back!

I bring you Ellen Meister, author of two forthcoming novels by William Morrow: Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA (August, 2006) and The Smart One (2007).

On Writing & Chocolate

"In the beginning, the Lord created chocolate, and he saw that it was good. Then he separated the light from the dark, and it was better. "

I go into a zone when I’m writing. It’s a very intense kind of focus and, as I’m in it, I’m madly in love with my words. It’s when I go back later and reread that I decide it’s utter crap. Or not. Either way, I find that treating myself to a few bites of dark chocolate—either as reward or solace—is a valuable part of the process.

Show me a writer who’s 100% confident in his or her work, and I’ll show you a dreadful writer. I think it’s the nature of what we do that makes us second guess our own judgment. If we’re not constantly tormenting ourselves over whether or not we’re good enough, then we just don’t get anywhere.

A long time ago I posted a very short story on Zoetrope, my online writers’ workshop. The style was a departure for me, so I was insecure about it to begin with. Then it got terrible reviews from my fellow workshoppers—some of the worst I’d ever received. I was about to yank the story from the site and throw it away when another writer I greatly respect put the brakes on. She said the story was wonderful and that if readers weren’t getting it, eff ‘em.

I’m glad I listened to her, because it got published and remains one of my favorite stories. The lesson here? I’d like to say it’s to believe in yourself, but this is writing, not a Disney movie. The lesson, I think, is that we have to accept the fact that we can’t be all things to all people. Even our best work is going to be hated by some. There's no accounting for taste, as they say.

I've even heard there are some folks who prefer milk chocolate to dark, though I suspect that's some kind of crazy urban myth.

If you're curious to read the story in question, check it out

BIO: Ellen Meister grew up in the PTA-enriched heartland of suburban Long Island. She graduated magna cum laude from S.U.N.Y. Buffalo with a degree in English, and spent her early career in publishing and advertising. She later used her copywriting and marketing skills to open her own boutique agency. Upon the birth of her first child, however, she left it all behind to raise her family and chase her fiction writing dreams.

Her short fiction has been published in numerous print and online journals, many of which can be found on Google. She is represented by Andrea Cirillo and Annelise Robey of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Visit her
Blog, "Diary of a New York Lady."


At 10:42 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

What a great essay. And a great chocolate opening. :) I do like the milk, but I know that's because I'm deficient in some way....

Zoetrope has helped many fine writers (and many fine writers such as you both have helped the web site), but sometimes I think there is always significant risk in letting other folks rate work. I love the piece and I'm so glad you got it published. So eff'em.

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Myfanwy Collins said...

GREAT essay, Ellen! Thank you for posting this, Jordan. I feel inspired just by reading it and it was perfect timing, too, as I have been struggling.

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Patricia said...

Ellen, you always know what to say, I love this, and I'm not, gasp, a chocolate lover...lolol, I love the story and am glad you listened to the one piece of good advise you got, thanks for posting this Jordan, I feel good just reading it..xoxoxo

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Jordan! You are way cool.

Steph ... milk chocolate? You may well be deficient in some way, but I still love you.

Myf ... I'm having the same kind of day!

Now if you'll excuse, I need a chocolate break ...

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Patricia! Hope you don't think I ignored you--we must have posted simultaneously. Glad you liked my chocolate essay ... even if you don't (gasp is right!) love chocolate. ;)

At 3:19 PM, Blogger RobinSlick said...

That's the best essay ever and I laughed my ass off over the comment 'show me a confident writer and I'll show you a dreadful one' because oh my god, how true is that. I bet we can all name Exhibit "A".

I absolutely love that P-boz story and yep, one of my favorites of Ellen's as well.

Err...I like milk chocolate way better, but that's because it's bad for you and dark chocolate is not.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Ellen, you're stirring up lots of traffic, love. Either that, or the chocolate.

I think I'm renaming my blog: "I have chocolate!"

At 3:31 AM, Blogger Susan Henderson said...

Love this!

At 6:23 AM, Blogger katrina said...

Excellent essay, Ellen! You are fabulous!


Post a Comment

<< Home