Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Warm Fuzzies, Everyone Needs ‘Em!

I’m delighted to be taking part in the Warm Fuzzies blogfest, the brainchild of Juliana Brandt.   For the next four weeks, we’ll be blog-hopping like mad, making new friends and engaging in one of my favorite activities, community-building.

For this first post, Juliana’s asked us to consider one of the stickier questions that a writer faces: How do you broach the subject of being a writer to those who aren’t authors?

It’s strange, thinking back on my trajectory towards writer-dom.  I’ve been scribbling stories for as long as I can remember, and when I was young, everyone knew that I was going to have a novel out one day.  In junior high, my tome of fan fiction was circulated around the classroom each morning so everyone could read the latest chapter.  Back then, the only question I received was, “So can I be in the story?  Will you stick me in as a cameo somewhere?” As a result, my crazy, ridiculous, sprawling 350 page boy band fan fiction features bit walk-ons from roughly half the 8th grade class. 😛

Things shifted once I hit college, though, and I became focused on a career outside of writing, ‘cause everyone’s gotta have a day job, right?  I discovered social justice and community organizing, the wonders of sociological theory, and the delights of research, and threw myself wholeheartedly into the fray. Oh, I still wrote — quite a bit, in fact — but it receded into the background, became the hobby I indulged in whenever I was struck by the muse, rather than one of my most defining attributes.

And then… graduate school happened.  I found myself in a sociology PhD program at the ripe old age of 21, swamped and overwhelmed by the demands of coursework, my teaching assistantship, and my own ambitions for my research.  I stopped writing.  I stopped reading novels, swept up in this strange, bizarre, soul-deadening belief that all of my time should be spent working on Serious Matters — and novels, unless they are being dissected and ripped apart for sociological analysis, are most certainly not Serious Matters.

In a world dominated by such charming adages as “Publish or Perish” (and we’re talking scholarly, peer-reviewed articles here), one that is characterized by constant chatter about productivity and jumping crazy, flaming hoops in the hopes of one day earning a tenure-track position at a university, it is an understatement to say that graduate students learn quickly to feel an inordinate sense of guilt at pursuing things that won’t help them (1) finish their dissertations or (2) land a good job.  Things, important things, those things that make us, y’know, human, fall by the wayside unless we’re careful.

I give you all this long, convoluted preface because I’m still on the fence about telling people that I’m working on a novel (well, 3, actually, with a novella waiting in the wings).  I know there are plenty of people who will be dismissive (again, novel-writing, like reading, isn’t Serious Matters).  And yet I do have a small group of friends who love books, and who understand the importance of having a life outside of the day-job.  They’re the ones who have been the most supportive and enthusiastic, and who remind me that I can be both scholar and writer.  They push me to keep going, and even though they think I’m slightly unhinged for deciding to juggle my MA thesis and a handful of novels, they encourage me to follow my passions.

So yay for community!  Better yet, yay for the handful of folks to understand (or appreciate, at the very least) the strange combination of insanity, stubbornness, dedication, passion, masochism, and creativity required to pen a novel.  Let the warm fuzzies begin!

26 Comments

  1. I’m glad for the writing community too. My family knows I write and support me, but I don’t think they’d get it quiet as well as my writing friends do.
    Patricia Royal recently posted..#WhyIWrite: Kaje on M/M RomanceMy Profile

    • Patricia, I definitely agree. My mom has been encouraging me to write novels since I was young, so it’s nice to have her support, but she it’s difficult for her to empathize with the process. It’s wonderful to have this community; I’ve become much more confident about my work since I’ve started to interact with all of you.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Yeah, the life outside a day job is especially important because it’s something–I feel–we have more control over as individuals. I can’t land a day job, for whatever reason got a few theories, but when I neglect my writing and ‘me-time’ then I lose the energy to even keep trying.
    Still, I also think you’re a bit unhinged for juggling all that you’ve got on your plate. Inconceivable to me to do a master’s and anything else on top of it.
    David A Ludwig recently posted..PatreusMy Profile

    • That’s a good point, David, that the life outside the day job is something that we can control. I don’t think I quite realized how important it would be until I got to graduate school — leading up to that point, I had spent so much time thinking of myself as *just* a student, but grad school, in many ways, is rather all-consuming.

      And yeeeeah… I do agree that I’m a bit crazy. 😉 Can’t be helped, though. I think tackling my writing has helped in some strange ways, and while the time management angle makes me a little frazzled, the benefits to my mental health is definitely worth it.

  3. Wow Lena,

    I knew through our brief chats there was more to you than just meets the eye.

    What an awesome background you have that will do nothing but make you soar in the social mediaverse! Your ahead of most but we all could use some warm fuzzies!

    Okay, now I have to go practice my tweets.
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Hanging On For Dear Life!My Profile

    • Karen, thank you so much for your wonderful words! I still feel like such a novice when it comes to social media and whatnot, but I have to say that I am enjoying myself immensely. Finding ways to bridge the various elements of life and personality is towards the top of my to-do list, and I’m hoping that as I become more comfortable with blogging and writing, it will be easier for me to capture my ‘voice’.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. I’m glad to know that it is possible to have time for writing and a day job! Sometimes I wonder how other people find the time. Me, I’m just tired a lot. I think that once we are more open about our writing we will see who our supporters are. We can then spend more time around thos positive people and let the ney-sayers drop away. I look forward to more warm, fuzzy posts.
    Emma Burcart recently posted..Fun FridayMy Profile

    • Emma, I know what you mean about feeling tired a lot. I have to make sure that I’m getting to bed on time, and napping when I can, otherwise I end up dragging and cranky. I’m always so impressed and humbled when I see what everyone else in the writing community is up against — children, families, day jobs… It’s wonderful, and heartening, to see so many people striving to recognize their dreams of writing, and it’s good to know that I’m not alone.

      Thanks for swinging by and commenting!

  5. I love that you are juggling two worlds. I think most of the writers I have met, either in person or via technology, juggle at least two. I find it invigorating to know it can be done.

    Great post – new follower 🙂

    • Tasha, you’re right. I think it makes us all the more interesting with all these life experiences — definitely adds some flavor to our writing. 😉

      Thank you so very much for following! I really appreciate it. 😀

  6. The world is a richer place because you juggle 🙂
    Sarah Pearson recently posted..Musical Stories 17: FantasyMy Profile

  7. Lena,
    You’re a master community-builder, and that skill will serve you well in academia, field work, and writing. May your first book signing bring all your communities together.
    Pat O’Dea Rosen recently posted..GEE, SINCE WHEN IS THE SHAKESPEARE CONTROVERSY NEW?My Profile

    • Pat, thank you so much. I think that’s one of my most treasured dreams: to bridge the various worlds in which I dwell. Here’s hoping it’ll happen!

  8. Lena, you are such a great inspiration. Juggling a day time job and a writing career, while keeping a balance (and sanity) is something that not everyone can successfully do.

    Have fun with the Fuzzy Blogfest. I wish I could participate but now is not a good time for me. Hopefully in a few months I will become more active in the blogosphere 🙂
    Angela Orlowski-Peart recently posted..ROW80 Check-In Sunday, October 30, 2011My Profile

    • Angela, thank you so much for stopping by and for your lovely words. I have to say, I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been these days, and I know it’s due to the writing and community-building that I’ve gotten involved with. The energy from you and everyone else that I’ve met is invigorating, and definitely keeps me going. 😀

  9. Lena you are so right about the “Serious Matter” thing! I get so tripped up about that when it comes to labeling myself as a writer or even considering it my calling. I hope there will be a day when I will finally will consider that which is important to me (ie writing) a serious matter too. Thanks for this post!! 🙂
    Coleen Patrick recently posted..Warm Fuzzies Blogfest & The Best of Me GiveawayMy Profile

    • Coleen, thank you so much for stopping by. I agree — I think it’s important for us to take the step in calling ourselves writers, and to boldly proclaim it to others as well. 😀 Here’s hoping that we can reach that point!

  10. Wow, you are taking on a lot – and it sounds like you’re handling it fabulously well! Since publishing last summer, I’ve found it challenging to tell people about my book and writing, too. It helps when the conversation drifts to how busy everyone’s been, and how we spent our weekends. So when I tell how I spent my weekend – writing! – it’s a natural lead-in. What’s really cool is that some of my coworkers are now also my readers, and those that don’t enjoy reading fiction are still supportive and tell other people about my books. Have fun with the Fuzzy Blogfest!
    Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..ROW80: Half Met, and a Good BookMy Profile

    • Jennette, that’s fantastic to hear that your coworkers have turned into readers and cheerleaders for your work! I actually gave this a try the other day, telling people that I’d spent the weekend gearing up for National Novel Writing Month. To my surprise, they were a lot more enthusiastic than I was expecting. So maybe I have to alter my preconceived notions of how people will view a part-time writer, and give my friends the benefit of the doubt. 😀

  11. Lena, great to meet you and I thoroughly relate to the problems of trying to earn a living at the day job whilst trying to find time to write those novels. Keep it up and you will get there.

    Thoroughly enjoying the Warm Fuzzies BF.

    Emma Calin
    http://www.emmacalin.blogspot

    PS added you to my blogroll – gotta build those author platforms!
    Emma Calin recently posted..Tea For One and Two for Tea.My Profile

  12. Thank you for a well written article.

    J H

  13. Honestly, I think we all need to be consciously aware of our inner priorities and what will make us happy. Truly happy! And we need to honor that. Without fear of judgment or ridicule. Without fear of criticism or misunderstanding. No apologies, no explanations! To me, the last two lines of the poem Invictus by poet William Ernest Henley sum it up: I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul!
    Live large….and write hard my friend!
    Natalie recently posted..Link love abound!My Profile

    • Natalie, this is such a wonderful comment, and so very true. I love those lines from “Invictus,” too — so apt!

      I’m learning that tapping into what will make me happy and feel like a whole person is what I need to focus on, and even though it seems like I’m doing a bit of a crazy juggling act, in the long run, I think it’s made me a happier person. 😀

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

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