Thursday, March 22, 2007

Beware "the Writer's Triangle"

Freelance writer Caitlin O'Neil has an article in the Mar/Apr issue of Poets & Writers on how hard it is to find time to write: "The Writer's Triangle: Balancing Writing with Living." The "dreaded triangle," she explains, "refers to the metaphorical vortex writers get pulled into while trying to balance making a living, being committed to their literary lives, and staying connected to the world around them." O'Neil uses the article to examine how she and other writers experience, "anxiety, depression and self-doubt--not about our writing, but about how our writing fits into our lives."

Finding time for writing is a real issue that, as the fact of A Writing Year should make clear, concerns me as well. Unfortunately, though O'Neil dramatically recounts various writers' struggles and the results (including "thousands of dollars of dental work" and "a panic attack"), the article as a whole is profoundly unhelpful. It winds down with a few catchphrases seemingly designed to make writers feel better (among them the increasingly irritating cliche, "writers don't choose the task of writing... it chooses them") before basically concluding that, sure enough, one has to compromise and make sacrifices.

To which I can only respond, AND? I don't need O'Neil or P&W to come up with all the answers for me, but it seems like a few suggestions would be in order. Otherwise what's the point? To show we're all in it together? Without any substantive guidance, it just feels like an exercise in self-pity.

1 comment:

frankies said...

But writers who delve past the surface are rare, aren't they? Yeah, the article was so much psycho-gobbledygook. P&W is a boring little magazine that's really just an ad vehicle for the business of writing.

Most writers' resources online are in the same vein of rehashing and vocalizing stuff we already know and publishing effusive praise for the latest favorite book by favorite writer. It's nauseating, actually. Vapid and vacuous without meaningful substance.