Monday, July 9, 2007

The Writer-Hating Bus

Robin, over at her blog, reminded me about Anne Lamott's famous writer-hating bus.

You know, the one that runs you down
before you have a chance to fix all those problems in your crappy rough draft. The one that leaves you with a tombstone that reads:

she was a writer

Not to mention the obit that says:

"A sad, wrinkled manuscript
was found decaying on her desk.
There were massive doses of
literary Botox in her system."

Oh, Robin, now I'm going to have nightmares about that bus. Does it go by my street? What color is it? Are there terrifying ads on the side of it, like:


Do you think school did this to us? Made us not want to show our messy assignments as if they were the literary equivalent of tattered underwear?

Robin also mentions gold stars. Oh, man! I can see the shiny little things now. How they poke your tongue with their sharp points when you lick them! How they twinkle when placed in a wobbly row!

It was one of the hardest things I had to face in writing my first book. No one cared if I finished it or not. There was no Gold Star Giver. Nope, there wasn't even a box of "Good Job" stickers to console me for a less than stellar try.

What finally got me writing was the thought of another powerful bus. The End of the Line Bus. When I reached the end of the line, where did I want to be? What destination would make me content to give up my seat?

The only answer, for me, was to have written a book. Okay, yes, I wanted to have loved, and been loved,
a lot. But besides that? Nope. Nothing else but a book with my name on it felt like a Big Gold Star destination to me.

At that moment, I knew I was toast. I didn't want to live the rest of my life knowing that I could have made myself happy, but didn't. That I could have given myself a Gold Star, but didn't.

P.S. Look both ways before you cross the street this week. I'm thinking of learning to drive a bus.


  1. "What finally got me writing was the thought of another powerful bus. The End of the Line Bus."

    Well, now, ain't that the truth? I don't know that I would have articulated that for myself if you hadn't put it that way, but Sara, you nailed it.

    When no one is begging for your first book, all you can do is decide you want to write it for yourself. And you want to finish it for yourself. And that's where A LOT of writers end up fading away. It's why so many creative people have all those brilliant beginnings of novels sitting in their drawers somewhere. They gave up because no one was telling them they had to finish.

    But you and I and a lot of other writers told ourselves we had to finish, didn't we? And that made all the difference.

  2. Oh WOW! I just began a graduate program after being out of academia for many years. Just got back my first pitiful paper and was thinking that I just should put down my pen.

    I know thesis writing is different than a novel, but the feelings of inadequacy as a writer are a bit similar.

  3. Robin, divatobe: Yes. We're all in this together, aren't we?

  4. Oh, and I do love the thought of that End-of-the-Line Bus...I imagine there are cushy seats and it ends up somewhere like the Bahamas...

    Great post! Fired up some motivation for me, too. (Now, it's just a matter of finding some extra time...) Look forward to maybe meeting you at SCBWI!


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