Friday, February 16, 2007

My art and I are going through difficult times. We should be in couples therapy, we're so uncertain of each other. I used to feel I knew who I was as a writer, but now I'm trying to find out all over again.

I don't write stories anymore...the motivation literally just disappeared after graduate school. I write novels, but not the girl-comes-home-seeking-redemption-family-dramas anymore. The last two novels I've written (okay, one is still in progress) have taken a decidedly off beat path. They take liberties with reality, and yes I'm dodging the word fantasy because they're not set in funny kyndoms peopled by magic-spinning creatures and mystical royal families. They're set in reality but they ask the reader to consider that some elements of our mundane lives may not be as mundane as we think.

Still...is that who I am as a writer?

I think I've become a writer who finds the questions more interesting than the answers and sets out to write narratives that will allow readers to answer questions I pose for themselves. The thing is, I just don't know if I'm any good.

I know, it's funny after all these years to ask it. But my novels are still unpublished. I'm still writing them, but I have lost my ability to feel where I stand in relationship to the publishing world. I used to think I had what it takes. Now I just don't know. I wish, instead, that I could reach directly out to readers--deliver my novels into their hands without the middle guy. Of course, in this culture, we call that self-publishing, and it is sneered at.

I think I need a retreat. Some reflection time. Who is Jordan E. Rosenfeld, writer? What does she have to say?

7 Comments:

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

My art and I have been in couple's therapy for years, and we're still learning about each other. The questions you pose in this post are the RIGHT ones. What are you meant to write? Why are themes and genres, you never intended to focus on, showing up in your work? (I've told my art repeatedly that I DON'T want to be a suspense novelist, but does she listen?)

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

First, I feel I should not be wearing my pajamas to respond to your post. Something about that seems...wrong.

I have a very uneasy relationship with the publishing industry, despite earning a living in a very unglamorous part of it.

However, I've learned at some level to separate my relationship with publishing (uneasy, ungrateful, angry at times) from my relationship to my own work, which is also uneasy, ungrateful, and angry at times.

Even with this separation, I have a difficult time writing and editing. I'm not sure if what I write is any good, if it can or should be published, and I don't submit anymore because I find it demoralizing and honestly, just about pointless for me.

 
At 11:23 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Patry, I remember talking to you about this same issue...and it does make me laugh that our writing sort of steers us rather than the other way around. I'm just trying to listen to my impulses right now and write what wants to be written.

Stephanie: Your history and mine are very similar when it comes to publishing, and I have the same feeling about submissions of short stories--that it's demoralizing and pointless. I keep on writing novels because at least it preoccupies me and gives me something to sink my teeth into. I have to believe that the actual writing sustains me.

 
At 5:09 AM, Blogger Marcus Grimm said...

Using the publishing industry to determine your level of talent is like using an eight-year-old's clothing selection as a way to know the weather.

They're sometimes, sort of related, but just as often, not.

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Debra Broughton said...

This post really resonates for me. I went through a similar thought process last year, and almost gave up writing altogether.

Finally, after a lot of soul searching and a trial separation, me and my writing are dating again. (That was also how I saw my relationship with writing - a kind of falling out of love with it).

Some time out can be a good thing, an analysis of why you're doing something that doesn't have much in the way of short term rewards, or long-term guarantees.
But for me at least, having taken the time to examine my motives, I've gained from the process.

 
At 2:17 PM, Blogger tricia stirling said...

i know, the label "fantastic fiction" should be rethought.
i agree with debrah, (and also with marcus--my 5 year old hasn't worn a pair of pants all winter long.) a break can be an okay thing. you, jordan, of all people, will return to the writing. but sometimes i think we can just become so inundated by the whole process that we aren't being productive anymore. or maybe, if you are terrified to take a vacation from writing (as i would be) re-read poemcrazy and just let writing become fun again.

 
At 8:22 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Marcus, I can always count on you for a good analogy. Good to see you here again after so long!

Debra: I'm glad you could relate and I appreciate you taking the time to come share it here. Dating my art sounds about right.

Tricia: your points are right on. Time away from either writing, or the grind of trying to be published, can make a huge difference.

 

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