On writing / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 15 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.**

Up until three days ago I used the same header I’ve used for previous 500 WAD challenges. Here is an example: **The next 20 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group. Often I phone it in.**

But that. That thing at the end there. What is that?

Sunday night I was writing the second of two parts about my recent jury duty. The actual experience was bewilderingly traumatic: immediately after the district attorney dismissed me, Juror Number 10, I walked out of the heavy courtroom doors and started crying. Right there in the sterile hallway. I fumbled an email to my therapist for an emergency appointment, while my body shook with a low tremor. I couldn’t explain why I felt the way I did, I just knew it ran deep. 

For me as a writer, an infrequent writer, articulating the truth of emotions and experiences onto a page is my only aim. I have no other objective but to write in a way to be understood. So I grew frustrated and disappointed a month later when I sat down to tell a story that I could still feel when I closed my eyes. I really tried. Eventually the writing poured out of me, but like tar. Thick, messy tar. I could not reach it

A few years ago, Ira Glass offered some really beautiful advice about creativity. I remember it making its way around social media and the tens of times I saw it in my feed, I listened nearly every time. I vowed to make more art. 

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
— Ira Glass

Of course I didn’t actually make more art.

But! I did actually remember that Ira Glass piece when I sat down to write about jury duty. As I started to publish the post, I glanced at that little disclaimer at the top of my work: Often I phone it in. In that moment, I realized that I didn’t want to let myself be the kind of writer who makes excuses for her writing. Not that it’s not true—sometimes I do phone it in and sometimes there are really good reasons for that—but there are several other things that are also true:

  1. Writing is messy and that’s why in the published world there are editors. Unless I start sending my posts to an actual editor (cough *Joslyn* cough), I have to be okay with a certain amount of clunk;
  2. The more I write the easier it becomes, more or less and:
  3. I am not alone. There are lots of other people who feel exactly like I do—trying to negotiate the difference between their own taste and what they put on the page. 

And I want that to be okay.