Hey readers,

Okay, I know it's a little late in the game to try to re brand my writing advice posts, but that's just what I'm gonna do.  From now on, my writing tips will be known as the "Weekly Writing Tips."  I'm not sure if that means there will be one a week or two a week or even three if I'm feeling particularly frisky, but I'm feeling good about this name change thing, so let's just go with it. 

Let's get to the tip: 

"The journey is the inn." 

Supposedly, that quote comes from Chaucer, but I first read it in a book by John Wooden.  What's that?  You haven't heard of John Wooden?  Okay, basically John Wooden is like a cross between Yoda, the coach from Hoosiers, and your favorite grandpa.  In short, the most awesome person in the universe. 

When he says "the journey is the inn," he means that the process is more important than the destination.  Like, the trip to the hotel should be a lot more fun/memorable/neat than getting to the hotel itself. 

It sounds a little crazy, and every car ride I've had to an Embassy Suites would say differently (author's note: goddamn the Embassy Suites are awesome.  And they don't even sponsor me, so you know I'm telling the truth), but let's look at this in terms of writing. 

When I was first starting out as a writer, I spent quite a bit of time imagining how awesome it would be to have my book out in stores and go to fancy writer parties and tell all my old English teachers who gave me a C to suck it. 

This was a pretty fun time, but unfortunately, thinking about a book being in a store doesn't actually get the book in the store.  Nope, I had to write the sucker. 

So, I wrote it.  And it wasn't always fun, but goddamn it was fulfilling.  I struggled, I sat a lot, I drank an unhealthy amount of coffee, I lied to people who asked me what I was doing for a living (author's note: next to the beard, and jacket with leather patches over the elbows, personal shame is the writer's most common accessory) but eventually I finished the book. 

Then some other stuff happened, and the book got bought and even found its way into a few stores.  I even got invited to a fancy writer party or two. 

But when I actually got to the store and found the book on the shelves, something surprising happened:  it was just okay. 

Like, I was happy to see it there, and it was nice to have a few coins jingling around in my pocket (author's note: literally) but it was a hell of a lot less exhilarating than I thought it would be.  Back before I started the book, I imagined seeing the book on the shelves would be the highlight of my life.  Like, I would get bathed in white light and I'd start levitating and groupies would start playing harps or something like that. 

But it wasn't quite that cool.  And maybe I just haven't found the right groupies (author's note: or any groupies.  Goddamn I wish somebody made that clear before I started writing) but I'm pretty sure it's never going to be that cool. 

But when I look back on the last few years, the most satisfying moments haven't been going to writerly parties or doing readings or signing books.  No, the most satisfying moments have been when I was writing. 

So here's the thing, guys.  If you've been struggling with writing, and you're looking forward to some big, awesome, payoff at the end that is going to make all the time you've spent clicking keys worthwhile...well, this is a good news/bad news situation. 

The bad news: this is as good as it's going to get. 

The good news:  this is as good as it's going to get. 

Try to enjoy the process of writing.  Sure, it sucks occasionally and it's a struggle every now and again, but then again, so is anything else worth doing doing. 

Of course, if I ever get a multi-million dollar advance and can finally afford a jet ski and/or mural of myself as a dolphin, I imagine my perspective on what "the best part of writing is" will radically change.  But in the meantime, let's just focus on writing for the joy of writing...and the possibility of "writer groupies," wherever they may be.   
 


Comments

03/11/2010 14:55

Holy Moses, Ben!

How can you be both so brilliant and handsome? This blog has changed my life, and thank you for making my days so sunny and wonderful.

Sincerely,

Defininitely not Ben Esch

Reply
03/11/2010 14:55

Thank you,

I live to serve.

Ben

Reply
Danny W.
03/11/2010 17:26

Did you know John Wooden helped create the program i oversee at work?


Here's a video of him and my boss discussing it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvX0fkEp0cs

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Danny W.
03/11/2010 17:27

Ben,
You respond to blog comments with such quickness! You responded to Not Ben Esch's comment 32 seconds after he posted it!

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03/12/2010 11:31

Ben said this shit was brillent on twitter right around the same time Definitely not Ben Esch commented on this post that it was brillent.

interesting

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03/24/2010 16:27

is cory posting from beyond?

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Britt
03/29/2010 09:22

I think you are just being modest about your not having any groupies

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