The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist the hole*

As John and Stephanie have suggested in their blog posts this week, we at DGLM have been slightly beset by mid-year doldrums.  Maybe it’s because it’s a quiet time of year and we’re all either desperate to get away on vacation or sad that vacation is fading in the rearview mirror.  Maybe  it’s because we’ve come all the away around from complaining bitterly about the cold to whining about the relentless heat and humidity.  Or maybe it’s because rejection is a downer and we agent types get rejected more than math geeks at a cheerleader convention.  Whatever the causes I think we’ve all been a little less joie-filled than usual and we’ve noticed that our clients are also exhibiting more signs of existential pain than is normal even for some of the more extreme nutcases among them (and I say that with love).

So, as therapy, I decided to look at the things that make me happy about what I do.  In no particular order here are my top 10 (for the moment):

1.  I work with supremely talented people who make me laugh, cry and grind my teeth (sometimes all within the same conversation).

2.  I am engaged daily in a world of ideas.  Nothing is too un-PC, too scandalous, or too weird for us to consider in the kind of intellectually lively environment that makes my banker friends jealous.

3.  I can justify my addiction to tabloids and thoroughly embarrassing knowledge of what the Kardashians are up to as being “part of my job.”

4.  I get to read for a living.

5.  Books.

6.  I learn fascinating things about science, art, history, politics, etc., almost every day—courtesy of our brilliant clients.

7.  I wear jeans to work on Wednesday or any other day.

8.  I get to see my name printed in the acknowledgments of books.

9.  I like my colleagues.

10. I like that, directly and indirectly, what we do has the power to influence minds, shape opinions, and occasionally change the world.

There, I feel better.  How about you guys?  What’s on your list of what makes you happy about being writers (despite the frustrations, rejections, and setbacks)?

*Oscar Wilde

18 Responses to The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist the hole*

  1. Joelle says:

    I’m game! I’m actually on a break (third week…or is it fourth) from writing because it wasn’t fun every morning when I woke up. I’m looking forward to getting back to it, but here’s my list because I do remember why I love it! In no particular order

    1. Bantering with my fabulous agent is always a joy(Hi, Michael!).
    2. Whenever I’m reading, I can say I’m “working.”
    3. My treadmill desk – keeps me fit, keeps my story on the move.
    4. Those moments when I’m walking through the Enchanted Forest (my walk to the post office) because I’m stuck on my story, and suddenly it all makes sense.
    5. I can justify being on twitter because I’ve made a lot of writing friends, sold some books, and found opportunities I wouldn’t know about if I weren’t on there.
    6. Snack time…seriously…one of my favourite parts of writing…I probably loved recess too, I just can’t remember.
    7. Writing has brought me my critique group and The Brouhahas are much more than beta readers to me now…they are all great friends.
    8. Writing has led to teaching and my residency last year at the grade school, which was amazing.
    9. There’s the actual writing part…that’s pretty neat…the whole something from nothing thing always amazes me.
    10. And last, but not least, so far, I don’t have to have another job. A lot of that is through luck of circumstances, and it could change at any moment, but for the last 8 years, writing has been my source of income…well, okay, there was those first five years, where my source of income was my husband, but for the last three years, I’ve supported us for the most part. Okay, I bought the groceries and kept the lights on, but whatever. I don’t have another job. That’s the point here. That’s what makes me happy!

    Thanks for asking!

  2. 1. I get to write whatever I want, nearly whenever I want. (I might not sell it, but I get to write it.)
    2. I get to explore all sorts of stories.
    3. I am entertained by the people I listen to when researching my stories
    4. What I’m learning is not only interesting and exciting, it also is helping me to grow up.
    5. Talking about (and writing about) ideas is what it’s all about.
    6. Until I’ve written something, it doesn’t exist – so I am the creator of worlds.
    7. My creations are a great place to live, but if I fail to work on them for a while, they don’t collapse and die from neglect. (Sorry, all those plants on the patio I forgot to water during the heat wave! You will be missed, and you will be replaced…)
    8. No matter what happens to the form, the essence of the story will continue to intrigue, mystify, and attract us.
    9. I get to tell those stories.
    10. I can browse the weirdest websites and say “it’s research.”

  3. 1. I get to daydream ALL day!

    2. I get to daydream ALL day!

    3. I get to jot down stories that entertain me first.

    4. I get to make myself laugh…a lot.

    5. I get to talk about myself in 3rd person and give myself cool nicknames like “Abby” and “M. J.” and “Theo.”

    6. If I’m having a bad day, I get to beat up a character. If I’m having a lonely day, I get to write a love scene. If I’m having a craving for junk food – my characters indulge without ever worrying about calorie counts. If I’m craving a vacation, I can set the scene in Bora Bora or anywhere else my heart fancies.

    7. I actually get paid to daydream ALL day! :)

    8. I dearly love my agent. (Yes, Jim…that’s you I’m waving at!) And I dearly love my editors. My work friends are the bestest!

  4. Melissa says:

    Short list of why I love to write:

    1- I like to make stuff up.
    2- I can be productive in bed.
    3- Everyone wants to tell me their secrets.
    4- Critique groups are a blast.
    5- Writer friends get me like no one else.

  5. Kim says:

    There’s nothing like finding out what my characters are going to do next (credit: Pat Conroy), watch a narrative unfold, and finish novels while so many people think about it and never do it.

  6. Stephanie P says:

    #1…. the absolute freedom to create your own worlds…

  7. Jennifer says:

    I love creating characters to include the flaws, vices and passions.

  8. Tricia says:

    Reading what I wrote to my little man (he turns 5 this month) and then him telling me a story with my characters. He have a game where I’ll start a story and he’ll tell me what happens next.

  9. christi says:

    1. I am grateful my writing allows me to express myself in ways I’ve never been able to vocalize otherwise.

    2. I am grateful for the many new friends I have made on my path to publication.

    3. I am grateful for the excuse to spend hours researching history, science, and all manner of subjects to help my stories be plausible while enjoying the task of educating myself (useless trivia games, here I come).

    4. I am grateful for my teenage girls who provide both endless inspiration and amusement.

    5. I am grateful to have found readers who are not related to me who actually ‘get’ me, understand my offbeat humor, and can give me honest feedback and help me grow as a writer.

  10. Miriam says:

    That’s what I’m talking about, guys! It’s really important to remind ourselves about why we do what we do and why we love it so much. Otherwise, it’s all stress and indigestion. :)

  11. Catherine Whitney says:

    As the stock market crashes (again), and the stress of my life threatens to overwhelm me, I can spend my days inhabiting another time–right now, the civil rights era, where people jailed for sitting at white lunch counters sang–in glorious harmony–“Ain’t nobody gonna turn me round.”

  12. Lisa Marie says:

    I get to work on my own schedule. Alarm clocks? Who needs ’em!

    Writing until 4 a.m. in the morning when it’s oh, so quiet.

    Crafting the perfect sentence/paragraph/page, re-reading it and thinking, “Wow. I really rocked it.”

    Being able to tell people “I’m a writer” when they ask what I do for a living. It’s so amazing to accomplish the biggest thing on my bucket list so early in life. :)

  13. Barb Riley says:

    1. Busy brain! Last year, I discovered something about myself – thanks to finding out my enneagram type, #7 baby! – and I need to be stimulated (my mind, you dirty bookworms!) constantly. When I have nothing to look forward to, I am at risk of depression. Writing fills that space. I can create anything, and be as passionate as I want about all of it. My brain is busy all day, thinking about characters and plots and other writerly things.

    2. I’m making so many new friends and contacts who share my passion!

    3. I can LEARN. I love to learn, but college tuition adds up after 10 years or so, and I’ve been told that eventually you have to graduate. :(

    4. I can TEACH. I’m looking forward to sharing my skillz with aspiring writers!

    5. Someday, someone will read words that I painstakinly put on that d*@# blank page, and they will love it!!

  14. Sharon aka Rosencranz says:


    As the only former cheerleader I think you’ve ever been friends with (and certainly the first), I take a certain amount of umbrage at your example in the opening paragraph (some cheerleaders are also math geeks).

    1. That, when I can’t sleep and am looking for a good book, I know that I can come to this website and find amazing new works to read.

    2. That I have a dear friend who can give me terrific book recommendations.

    3. That there is still nothing quite like getting lost in a good story, whether it is one I’ve made up myself or that was created by someone else.

    Thanks to all of the authors and agents on here that give us readers so much pleasure!!

    • Miriam says:

      Oh, Miz Rosencranz, how wrong you are. Jane Dystel, in fact, is a former cheerleader as well. Would I ever cast aspersions on my dear friends’ activities?

      I’m so glad you’re checking in to our blog and find good reading matter. We love hearing that. What are you reading lately? Wanna share?

  15. Sharon aka Guildenstern says:

    I’m reading Embassytown by China Meiville. I’m finding it engrossing, but also a bit frustrating. I think the frustration may be due to my limitations rather than the author’s, but I’m finding it difficult to visualize the world he’s created. The book reminds me a lot of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (which you gave me as she is one of your clients) and thus far I prefer The Sparrow.

    I also read the latest Jaqueline Carrey, Naamah’s Blessing, which was great summer escapism.

    For some reason, this summer I’ve found myself returning to The Hunger Games books. I know there must be a reason for it . . . I’d guess its because the books suck you right in.

    Any good recommendations?

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