Posted by: joha5 | May 19, 2010

Cogito Ergo Sum: The Secret Confessions of a Writer

You and I – we have a strange relationship.  My job as a writer is to try to paint a picture for you with my words that elicits emotions, a response, a reaction.  Your job as the reader is to create this picture yourself in your mind’s eye and to build a connection – emotional or intellectual – with what you read on the page.  For those of you who have read some, most, or all of my previous posts, sometimes I am sure you find it easier and sometimes you find it more difficult to accomplish this.  As objective as I try to be, I can never be totally removed from the words that spout from my brain onto your very screen and it makes it infinitely hard to always try to produce something that I feel good about, something that I feel is consistently worth reading, and something that will speak to you as the reader.  It is because of this that I must make a full and honest admission to you as somebody who is reading what I am offering.  Even though I want to love everything that I write.  I don’t.  In fact, it isn’t even close.

Make no mistake.  There are days when I wake up and I feel inspired.  I feel like the words I use come forth from this tiny little cerebral gold mine and writing just seems easy.  I can spend half the time on some of my best posts and they can be ten times as good.  However, there are other days when I wake up and I feel like writing is the most difficult thing I will do all day.  The words sputter out like exhaust from a Ford Model T, my ideas are banal and innocuous, and it takes me about ten times as long to write something and it is less than half as good as the day before.  You would think that I would have some idea by the way I was feeling, my mood, or how busy or light my schedule is.  But I genuinely have no idea if that writing gold mine will be open for the day until I sit down in front of the computer and try to access it. 

Thinking Isn't Always Easy

I can’t describe to you how unspeakably frustrating it is when you have a good idea and what you want to write about but nothing seems to come out right.  I am sure that all of you can commiserate with me on this in some way, shape, or form.  As the writer, I can see the story that I want to paint for you with my word’s and I can see it connecting with those of you who read it.  How deflating it is to then stumble through the whole creative process only to see my ‘masterpiece’ end up resembling a child’s scrawlings with crayon on the wall.  Angrily, I go back and rewrite some of the weaker sentences or restructure some of the weaker thoughts but now they don’t connect with the rest of the words.  Now I feel even more disjointed and irritated with what I have written so I try and mask the inconsistency by throwing in some big words like ‘eponymously’, ‘sisyphean’, or ‘bacchanalia’.  On the surface it now looks like I have written something clever and worthwhile but really I have just lost total control of the whole piece.  All I want to do is cry but, instead, I push the button that says ‘Publish’ and hope for the best.

Conversely, I can’t even describe to you how great the feeling is when I know that I have succeeded at my job as a writer.  When I get good responses from readers, when the story turns out better than I thought it would when I first began the creative process, or even when I just feel like I am totally connected to my words.  The days that these things happen makes it all worthwhile.  All I want to do is smile but, instead, I push the button that says ‘Publish’ and hope for the best.

This is perhaps the strangest thing about writing.  I am putting something out to the public – however big or small that populace may be – to read and to judge.  Not everybody will like all of the same things and some people may feel more connected to stories that I feel totally disjointed from.  Some people will love everything that I write because something about the way I write speaks to them and some people will hate everything I write because of our different experiences, different narratives, and different approaches to life and to writing.  In the end, however, all I want is to feel like I have succeeded as a writer.  The goal isn’t to have millions of people read my stuff (although that would be nice!) or to be the most popular writer out there.  The goal is to write something that I feel happy about, that I feel contributes something to somebody’s day, and that I enjoy writing myself.  Because as much as writing is for other people to read it is also just as important for the author to write in the first place.

I think, therefore I am. Cogito ergo sum. Je pense, donc je suis.



  1. Hi Jon

    Federico Fellini was once sitting alone on the fringe of a movie set while the film crew were throwing a party. He’d got the money for the movie, he’d got the stars and the crew, but he didn’t have an idea for the movie. He was deeply concerned. Then a member of the crew came over and told him that this was going to be a great movie.

    So he wrote and directed a movie about a movie director who didn’t have a movie. The movie was called “8 1/2”.



    • Hey Bill! I had NO IDEA that is how “8/ 1/2” was originated. What an absolutely incredible film. What a great concept of life imitating art imitating life (again!). Maybe I should write a book about some over qualified idiot who can’t seem to find a job anywhere! Haha! From what I know about you, your story would be much more interesting to tell!!

  2. Writing seems to be effortless for you. To me you write like a pro. Thanks for sharing with us that it’s harder than you make it look.

    • That comment honestly made my day. Thank you so much for saying such a sweet thing. I’m just glad that you come by and read what I have to offer. It isn’t great everyday but the days that are good I feel very pleased with. I just wish it was all a bit more consistent. And you aren’t so bad yourself by the way! I always get a huge kick out of reading your stuff…keep it up my friend!! Thanks again! 🙂

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