Day 32 – Why It’s Important to Write Like No One Cares

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Monday – September 29, 2014

Wait... am I writing the blog you're reading right now?? But how--how is that even POSSIBLE??????

Wait… am I writing the blog you’re reading right now??

Today is the one month anniversary of my unemployment, and none of you got me a gift. I’m hurt, but I’ll try not to take it personally.

One month into this and I don’t have a job. Today, anyway, I’m surprisingly okay with that. I still have great faith the right thing will come along. A day like today helps me keep that faith.

I woke up late to discover Erin had already taken the kids to school. That was a gift. I average about 4-5 hours of sleep each night and I do okay with that, but when I get to sleep in it’s like a life-altering experience. I was well-rested for our morning walk and then I was able to settle in for a long morning of writing while Erin and Violet went to a meeting. Also a gift.

Heard back from the company up North about my interview. Apparently, I didn’t botch it bad enough that they ran away screaming. I will be doing a second interview, though not for another two weeks. Their hiring process is a little involved, but that’s good. We’ll both know if I’m the right fit or not by the end of it and if there’s one thing I don’t want it’s getting into a situation that isn’t right for me. That will just make everyone miserable, including my eventual employer. Money is important, but personal happiness and fulfillment is far more crucial and those things don’t cost a thing.

* * *

Okay, that was the update. The rest of this blog is going to be a bit of a rant about writing. Feel free to get off the train now and I’ll see you again at the station tomorrow.

* * *

Got chewed out on Facebook (goodnaturedly) for not posting a blog today. Occasionally, for a variety of reasons, there are blogs I write in this unemployment series that I choose not to make public. Some people are not okay with this, and that is fantastic.

If I’m going to ever be any kind of writer or author (obviously a goal), I need people to want to see what I’m coming up with. That may seem obvious, but I’m often amazed at how many blogs I read where it feels like the writer is just talking to themselves. What I mean is, if you want to be a writer–and I’m going to define writer as someone who writes things they want others to read–then you’ve got to, in some way, write to an audience. Even when writing deeply personal things, which is what I tend to do, you have to make your written word appealing in some way, i.e. of benefit to the reader. Either to entertain or to inform or both.

Basically, you have to write as though no one cares. And then make sure they do.

I’m not going to pretend I’m always successful at this. But I do try, and that’s the point. If you’re not trying to write for the benefit of others and are writing simply so you can get something off your chest or in the hopes that people will find you accidentally brilliant* and stroke your ego, then you’re doing it wrong. Why are you even hitting ‘Publish’ on your posts? You’re putting your thoughts to the wind, and the wind doesn’t care. The wind will treat your writing badly (as it perhaps deserves), tossing it to the gutters.

*And let’s face it, every amateur at anything hopes they can be accidentally brilliant. They hope that they’re an untapped talent that will be amazing at whatever it is they’ve chosen to do straight off, without putting in any of the time and learning necessary. Basically, we all want to know kung fu.

The issue of writing what is relevant to the reader is one I wrestle with constantly as a memoir writer. An interesting story is only half the challenge. The second half is how to present that story in such a way that it reaches people where they are. It has to be meaningful to them in some way, even if it’s deeply personal to me. This goes to theme and zeitgeist and a bunch of other things that I don’t want to get into in a blog that’s supposed to be about unemployment, but suffice it to say that there’s a real challenge to try to write something (memoir) in such a way that people will pay for what they can get a million times over on the internet for free (personal blogs).

My hope is that what I can do in a book length project is far more accomplished and thematically complex and interesting and entertaining and satisfying than what I can do in a blog. This blog traffics in the disposable, as do all blogs with posts ever getting archived and pushed down the list. A book should be a cherished thing, I think, and greater than the sum of its never separated parts. That can only happen when you’re thinking outside of yourself even as you may obsess over yourself (in memoir) or the story (memoir and everything else–don’t get so deep into your story you forget to bother with whether anyone else can understand it).

To bring it all back around again: instead of a blog, today I posted a short excerpt from my new book, Worlds Apart. I’ve been working on this book for a few years now and I’m so close to the end I can smell the ink on the pages. Posting this excerpt isn’t the case of a writer sharing what he intends to do (never share too early), this is something I’ve mostly already done and I want to share a piece of it with you. I think it’s a pretty good piece.

Did I do it? Do you read that and think, “Yeah, that’s interesting to me” or “I can identify. I want to see how it turns out?” If so, then I’ve done my job with you in the teaser. If not, then maybe it wasn’t your thing or I’m still finding my way towards the thing that will make my story special to anyone who isn’t me. Time will tell.

Thanks for indulging me.

Advertisements

17 comments

      1. Been there, done that. Know how you feel. Don’t give up hope, but rather exploit your talents. Pursue your own best capabilities.

        Things will turn.

        Like

  1. I write for me. Therefore if someone likes it great. And if not they can move on. As long as I like it, I feel good. Good luck on the second interview. I am hoping you make it. I understand how bad it feels not to pay all the bills and waste time worrying about it. Just keep going. I sold cars in between. I worked strictly on commission so it was tough. But I learned and eventually sold some cars. Then something opened up and I was back at my regular work.

    Like

    1. I’ll sell cars if I have to, but fortunately for now I’ve got a little time buffer during which I can look for that job. Appreciate hearing your perspective.

      Like

  2. Hmm. I am interested enough by your excerpt to want to read a bit more and see where it goes. It does catch your interest but not in an hit-you-over-the-head kind of way. Am very interested in how this goes for you as I started my blog on the advice of my memoir writing group and for a while that’s all I was posting were writings I did for that class. Very interesting. Anxious to see a bit more of your writing.

    Like

    1. Hey, thanks for the honest assessment of the excerpt. I’m just now starting to put the details of the book out there and how to present it to the world in a way that makes it intriguing is something I’m trying to work out. You’ve inspired me to look through the manuscript a bit more in search of something that might be a little more “grabby.”

      How were your writings received when you put them out there?

      Like

      1. All the writings I did for club were well-received, but I was also in a crowd where everyone was over 70 and enjoys looking back and also hearing a younger perspective. But even when I posted them on here, I got some good comments. I made kind of a mistake when I set up my blog and posted all the writings I had done for the group the first day I posted so alot of them never were read because I wasn’t established on here yet. But live and learn. Hey, I didn’t actually mean that you NEEDED a grabby something for your memoirs. Truly, I was just saying that it wasn’t a SHOWY way you wrote, but more an understated way that drew me in gradually. It depends on what you’re trying for her. I don’t necessarily thing a book of memoirs has to be GRABBY if you know what I mean. Memoirs require a different approach. You’re not a comedian. You’re not trying to educate. You’re not doing anything but putting out your experiences. It requires something different to make it interesting, you know? I tried a few different approaches with mine when I was in the writing group. They are on my blog, some under HUMOUR, some under FAMILY, some under GENERAL INTEREST. Perhaps that’s an idea actually, perhaps maybe try and change up the perspective on each writing you do and make it interesting that way. (Not saying you aren’t interesting now because I have no idea what you’ve got down, but just some food for thought…)

        Like

        1. Oh, I agree about memoirs not needing to be grabby. But HOW you present the memoir to the world to entice people to read it should be enticing–and quickly. Something grabby is best. I’m talking about the moment when you pick up the book in the store and look at the back or the excerpt you might read on Amazon to try to decide if you want to buy. The actual memoir only needs to hold the reader’s attention.

          Like

  3. Hi Brock,

    I have been following your blog.I totally understand where you’re coming from as I’m currently into my 2nd month of unemployment. While I’m job-hunting, I pray and seek God’s guidance to the next step and right job. And I have started blogging after a long hiatus and exploring different possibilities while waiting for God to show me his will. I guess we all have to wait for God’s timing and I’m certain our wait will be worthwhile. Keep the faith 🙂

    Cheers
    Celina

    Like

  4. Hang in there. The fact you want to share your thoughts with people is uplifting to many. And whilst sometimes it may feel like you put yourself out there and there’s just a void, sometimes someone says back “I’m listening”. You’re certainly helping me be more prayerful, and I hope you and your wife are successful in finding jobs that suit the pair of you best.

    Like

    1. Hey, thanks, Space_wolf. This is the main reason I share–in the hopes that it can be of some small benefit to someone else. Thank you for the comment. Keeps me motivated.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s