A-Z Writer's Toolbox: Denial

A to Z Disclaimer:

Like all craftspeople, writers need to keep a bag of tricks handy.  A set of tools for the job m (writing), if you will.  Some of these traits or tools are obvious--like the need to have a hide as thick as a brick, for instance.  Some are not.  This month, I've been challenged to do a post every day of the week (excluding Sunday) that begins with a letter of the alphabet.  I'm going to use this challenge to examine some of those necessary writing tools, both conventional and not.  Hold on to your #2 pencil, here we go!

NOTE: I've added a page dedicated to my A to Z Writer's Toolbox posts.  I figured I'd soon have a bunch of these things and it'll make it easier for you to browse any of the letters you might have missed.  You can find a link to the page under the, "MORE STUFF" heading at the top of the right-hand column of this page.  

D is for denial

When faced with great odds, great people routinely ignore them.  Like a dog will seek out a sliver of sunlight on the floor to warm in, survivors and thrivers will find the slimmest bits of hope to cling to in times of trial.  As unusual as it sounds, denial is the stuff of success and champions.

"Never tell me the odds!" ~ Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back 

Why Writers Need to Burry Their Heads in the Sand:

Writing has always been a game for dreamers and explorers.  History has taught us that players in those types of games don't always succeed.  The Spanish explorers never found that city of gold, and most of the people who moved to California for the "Gold Rush" were poorer for their efforts.

Perhaps the most vexing question facing all writers is: Will the hours you devote to mining for creative gold yield anything but eyestrain, sore fingers and a caffeine addiction?   

If you write long enough, there'll be loads of people who will try to convince you that it's an ultimately fruitless activity.  A hobby to be done between more serious pursuits.  After all, who would devote weeks, months and maybe even years to something that could potentially earn them not a dime?  Children and crazy people, that's who.

"Denial ain't just a river in Egypt." ~ Mark Twain

And those are just the people who know nothing about publishing!  The outlook isn't much rosier coming from people who've actually been there, done that.  If you follow agent blogs and listen to the chatter of other writers, you know the immeasurable odds of getting the attention of professional eyes, much less their endorsement.  Sadly, it seems the opportunities for traditional publishing are diminishing.  Bookstores are closing, and the publishing giants are feeling the financial squeeze of a new world economy, simply struggling to find their place in the modern reading world.  Increasingly, new authors are often seen as a risk, not an investment.

So why do we continue to write when logic, time and finances are against us?  For me, it's because I still believe that my next word will be the profound one.  That my next sentence will be the one that an entire story is built upon.  That my next paragraph will be the one that no one else could craft.  That my next story will be the one that people will clamor to read.  

Maybe that's denial, or maybe I'm just blissfully unaware.  Either way, not regularly staring down the odds has allowed me to write with more confidence and purpose.  So the next time someone asks me about how difficult it is to get published, I think I'll just tell them I'm not sure and keep writing.   

"I have a very highly developed sense of denial."  ~ Gwyneth Paltrow


P.S. ~ I quoted Han Solo, Mark Twain AND Gwyneth Paltrow today ... did I mention I'm really enjoying this A-Z thing?  :-)


  1. Dear E.J.
    I've been getting a few hits on my poems and I thought I would take matters into my own hands.
    Hey, a blog is publishing after all and we are the masters of our own universe. With that said, I'm freaking out right now because I put a PayPal thingie on my blog. I think it's a sacrilege but pimping out might be the future. Am I in denial?

  2. :0) You might be TDR! lol I don't think it's a bad thing at all, actually. Artists have accepted public contributions forever. In fact, for centuries that's how they survived.

    Labels stink. You do whatever you feel is proper for your work and let other people worry about whither-tos and why-fors.

  3. Congratulations!!! You are the recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award!!!
    Much love!!!

  4. I really enjoyed reading your post today. It helps when you hear others believe in the route of denial too.

  5. Long live denial. Head in the sand denial allows this denier to keep the scratching the words onto the page.

  6. Nice quotes. Good post. Even though publishing is changing so much these days I am still hopeful as a writer.

  7. Hi E. J. New follower here by way of the A to Z.

    I've been in denial all day. I'm supposed to be working, but decided it was more fun to go surf new blogs. Deadline? What deadline?

  8. From alcohol to denial...hmmm...anyone else think EJ's trying to tell us something.

  9. It's part of the Twelve Steps of Writing, don't you know?

    Good post, EJ!

  10. Denial is good as long as it helps you write better! Great to meet you via A-Z!

  11. So true. Sometimes you have to believe in impossible things in order to accomplish them.

  12. I love that quote by Han Solo. Yes. I traffic in denial, it keeps me sane.

  13. I'm enjoying it a lot too :D It's amazing the different themes/people that can come together in one single A-Z post. Hehe.

  14. This was a really great post. I love the wide rage of sage wisdom you incorporated too.

    I write because it's what I'm driven to do. I may never make a dime with the written word, but I'll continue to work toward just that.

    Yea, Denial!

    M.J. Fifield
    My Pet Blog

  15. I only keep writing to get lit chiks. Lit chiks r hawt.

  16. It's in the job description for writers.

  17. Great topic choice for the A to Z series. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  18. Thank you for this post. I think I'm going to hop on the denial train, keep my head down and my fingers taping.

  19. A-Z-ing my way through. Nice to meet you!

    Blog Book Tours Blog

  20. I am an official fan - quoting Han Solo soars you to the top of my Google Reader. :)

    Great post - I don't ignore the odds. I feel the same way you do. And I'm going to work my tail off until my words are heard (or read).

  21. Oh that Mark Twain quote just made my day! (I am reposting that on Facebook. Sweet). I love the Hans Solo one too. Can't go wrong with Star Wars Wisdom. Great post!


“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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