• How to Spin Your Writerly Negativity into Contentment

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    That’s it, I’m turning in my writer’s card.

    I admit that I don’t know what I’m doing, and in some, maybe most ways, I just don’t belong in this “writer’s group.” I read amazing short stories and novels all the time, and I just want to quit. Maybe I should, and here are a few reasons why. Prepare to be shocked:

    • I’m not the brooding, artistic type
    • I don’t remember how to diagram a sentence
    • I never learned the aspects of a novel
    • I haven’t read Borges


    There. I said it. It was killing me to hold those inside. The festering guilt and unmitigated impotence I felt!

    Now that I’m through with the hardest part and feel a bit better, I can engage in mental masturbation by listing what I DO bring to the writing table. When you’re feeling blue about your supposed lack of writerly charms, you should list your strengths, too:

    • I like to read and analyze literature. As in, really delve into it, dictionary cracked open (this is figurative–who the hell uses a real dictionary anymore?), and figure out why the author chose those specific words. It’s fascinating what I’ve discovered, hidden in denotations and connotations. Turns of a word that only a well-seasoned writer could compose. A symphony of words. Yeah, I know, totally nerdtastic. But, it makes sense, because I learned how to do this in a poetry course at Texas Tech. Which brings me to my next point…


    • In college, I took an enormous amount of literature classes. More than needed for the major, even. Straight out of the gate, first semester, I jumped into the junior-level poetry class I mentioned above. My instructor was a former-hippie-turned-prof. He played at Woodstock. Yes, he was that effing cool. I was in love. Then, with the help of my trusty Webster’s, I transferred that love into a love of all things literary. From Literature and Science (also taught by the same awesome Woodstock prof) to Creative Writing (the only such class I took in college), I enrolled in them all, and I loved them. Basic courses? Never heard of ‘em.


    • Passion. Drive. Whatever you wanna call it, I gots it. I really enjoy spewing my head-words onto the page. Hell, I’ve been doing it since I was, what, 10 or 11? In fifth grade English, we wrote a story a week. More often than not, the teacher read mine aloud. I remember the one I penned about a dinosaur egg, and a boy who finds it, brings it home, it hatches a little flying dino, he tries to keep his mom from finding out, his mom comes into his room at the same time that the baby dino’s mom flies to his window, the baby climbs aboard, and they fly off into the sunset. I was quite proud of that one. And I believe it hatched my passion for words.


    • There are a number of things happening lately in my writing world that have given me hope (The rest of this paragraph is a list for my ego – You can skip it.): I decided to stop running away and start an MFA, published a flash fiction piece, wrote my first blog post for our own WBN, finally finished a short story and submitted it for a few prestigious contests, started a novel, made some local writing friends, began attending workshops, sought advice from professional authors and coaches, yada yada. Most of this happened within a month’s time. For real. I’m not making that up.


    My point is, even if you don’t have a flashy degree, even if your rejections pile is to the roof, just keep on keepin’ on, as we say in the south. Continue writing. Do your thing. And feel good about it. Even if no one else ever reads and likes your writing, focus on your strengths. Positivity breeds contentment.

    What do you do to pacify the writing gods and corral the furious beast within?


    h. l. nelson is Book Marketing Manager for Booktrope, Fiction Editor for Black Heart Magazine and former sidewalk mannequin. Her short stories and poems have been featured in BH (pre-employment), the Texas Tech Honors Program magazine, and Black-Listed. She is writing her first novel, which she describes as “Fight Club for soccer moms.” Dinner parties, Vicodin, a homeless intersexual prostitute. She hopes Chuck approves. Find her on Twitter @hlnelsonauthor or her website.


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