Bleed It Out

What do you give to your stories? What part of YOU leaves to become part of the page? I'm pretty sure anyone who has ever pursued writing seriously understands what I'm asking.

Yeah here we go for the hundredth time 
Hand grenade pins in every line

There's a process. It can be painful. It must be repeated. While I've been aware of it, I'm not sure if I've really come to peace with it until the last few weeks. 

What we do, no matter the level of expertise or area of writing, is nothing less than soul mining. We dig, we scour and we cajole. Anything to conjure a few words, to articulate the things in our heads.

Dug the trench out laid down there 
With a shovel up out of reach somewhere 
Yeah, someone pour it in 
Make it a dirt dance floor again

Not going to lie, it has frustrated the hell out of me at times. Nothing is good enough for ME. Furthermore, there's almost zero extrinsic value in it. I can count the "Atta boys" I've gotten on both hands. 

And to be honest, even if Stephen King and J.K. Rowling co-authored a letter titled, "Why We Think E.J. is the Greatest Writer of All-Time" I still wouldn't buy it. This is my struggle. What do they know about it? 

I am Sisyphus, and that rock is never going to crown that damned hill so long as I'm pushing it.  

Truth is you can stop and stare 
Run myself out and no one cares

I realize this entire post is going to come off as the Angst-ridden Writer Guy venting, but I don't care. I don't care because I think I've needed to say it. And I think you might need to hear it. 

Writing is thankless. It's a battle with yourself that you'll never win. The entire point of it is to pour yourself--your words--out until it runs dry. To try and say something in way that only you can say it. Once it's done, you do it again.

And that's okay.

F#@! this hurts, I won't lie 
Doesn't matter how hard I try 
Half the words don't mean a thing 
And I know that I wont be satisfied

I'm not suggesting I don't write for the reader. I think you have to. Put the truth serum (i.e. Merlot) in me, and I'll tell you what I really want to do is entertain. If I can get the reader caught up in what I'm saying long enough to forget about their crying dog or barking child, I call it success. 

But ultimately it's more about stirring something in them, not just telling them a story. I also realize most of what I write isn't going to achieve that lofty aspiration.

I bleed it out digging deeper 
Just to throw it away

So that's what this is about. Embracing the process. Give it your all every last stinking time as if it is the last stinking time. Don't expect anything out of it but the process. Don't regret the suffering. Don't regret anything. 

Expect people to dance as you burn. Expect them to want more even when you've been bled out. It's called a challenge for a reason. 

I bleed it out digging deeper 
Just to throw it away

I've listened to the song BLEED IT OUT by LINKIN PARK (all of the big BLUE words in this post are theirs, as is the song below) a few hundred times over the last three years. Not joking. 

It's in my exercise mix and it gets me going. It has also put my b.i.c. (butt in chair) to write on many occasions when I'd just about given up. It's probably the closest thing I have to a "Rocky" theme song. 

If you're not ruffled by a little language, you should give it a listen.

Do you have a song? A quote? Anything that sums up what this writing thing is about?



  1. Yes. Exactly how I was feeling today. Cranked out...okay bled out 1100 words today. And it was pretty painful. And then received a rejection for my round of querying going on. The song captures it and would get me writing, too. Right now my newest WIP's theme song is "Nightcall" from the movie DRIVE. It gets the writing going and blocked out the neighbor's chainsaw this morning, too!

    1. The Drive soundtrack is fantastically evocative.

      Ugh, the writing! It's just a constant cycle of, "Not good enough" at times, right?

      What inspired this post was the fact that I've had a pretty good run lately (for me), and I still feel like I'm a hack. I lost my mojo, and really all the "mojo" is cranking out the next page.

    2. I'm struggling right now with feeling like a hack, too. It's so true... mojo is just cranking out the next page. Here's to cranking it out... word-by-word and page-by-page.

  2. "E" Freakin' "J" ... I can't tell you the crap how much I love this post.

    "Soul Miners" <---So true

    "It's a battle with yourself that you'll never win" <-----Double true.

    I might as well have said these words, except I couldn't have done it as brilliantly and effectively as you just did. It's like we *like* to torture ourselves... it is a thankless job. And if JK or Mr. King told me I was brilliant I wouldn't believe them either, LOL. But I'm still driven to do it. I love words. And though I don't enjoy the soul mining so much, it's still good.

    There are SO many MUSE songs that I love. They just speak to that inner dark place in my soul that inspires the words that need to come out ;)

    1. Thanks Morgan! You're pretty awesome too ya know. :)

  3. I haven't touch the Merlot bottle lately but you're right about everything except for the fact that you young pups don't have to bleed as deeply as the ones who wrote before computers, before self-pub opportunities and before the internet. Embrace the fact that when you're looking deep it's not because you're down to one last drop of white-out.

    1. Don't you pull the old jaded writer on me, TDR! lol Besides, I kind of like the smell of White-Out ... probably shouldn't have said that. ;)

  4. Yep, that's why I've (mostly) unplugged from the internet this week, to go do some soul digging and get over the hump in my novel. I don't have a song for it, just the metaphor of going deep sea diving instead of snorkeling at the surface.

    1. Agree, LG. Getting away from "the world" isn't a bad idea in the tough times. I put so much pressure on myself at times just by reading what everyone else is doing. Think that contributes to the feeling of not doing enough.

  5. If this is angst-ridden EJ, I think we're all a little angsty sometimes. But I don't think it's a thankless task. I feel thankful all the time~ and for bizarre things like personalized rejections! And for having started to look online two years ago to find advice about writing...and instead having found this amazing community of support. I may never be published, but I think I'm more suited to this than learning how to play about a thankless, challenging, frustrating, angsty sport! :) Golf is my nemesis.

    1. Golf ... oh, golf. I've tried to pick it up so many times only to go back to playing basketball. :) Sadly, my knees aren't really feeling basketbally any longer so maybe I'll give golf another try.

      Perfect comparison to writing, btw.

  6. I've had this a lot over the past week. Cranking out words for Camp NaNoWriMo, I just felt that they weren't good enough. No mater how much I wrote, my words would never be good enough.

    The song I'm listening to to help with this is :You are the Moon.

    Makes me feel special every time I listen to it,

    1. Thanks for the rec, Imogen. Off to give it a listen. And best of luck with your NaNo goals!

  7. I just added another 1200 words to my next book tonight. Blood may have been involved.
    I do want to entertain. And with this final book, I want to leave behind something epic readers won't forget.
    Not going to happen, but I'll give it my best shot.

    1. Alex, I hope this means the final book in the Cassa series and not YOUR final book ...

  8. Now you've depressed me, EJ! I've been deluding myself for years, and you just stuck a mirror up in my face and made me face the truth!

    Check out the post on the Self-Published Authors Lounge for today....

    1. Didn't mean to depress anyone, Norma! lol Was actually trying fire people up in my won backward fashion. :) I'll look for that post ...

  9. I LOVE that song by Linkin Park. Love it! And now it's in my head.
    And if Stephen King and JK Rowling told me I was a great writer. I really think I would believe it! IT's Stephen King and JK Rowling!!! :)
    But agreed. It is called a challenge for a reason. Writing is not easy.

  10. I just have to...I must.


  11. Hey EJ! Wow, amen, brotha

    I deal with this a lot and wonder why I bother. But what I've found is its the friendships along the way that keep me going. This network of writers who are equally as angsty and masochistic as I am make it all worth it.

    As for songs, I LOVE the Rocky theme song and it always makes me laugh to play it and throw a few punches. "Getting stronger!"

  12. Flashdance (What a Feeling) By Irene Cara from the 1980's is a perfect song to discuss my feelings on what writing is all about. The only thing you need to do with that song is replace the word "dance" with the word "write" each time it comes up. :-D

  13. Dream On gets me every time. And, to go with a completely different genre, The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha. Well put, EJ. Let's all just keep bleeding. I mean, writing.

  14. My name is Tanya, and I am a Writing Addict.

    No disillusion, no hope for me.

    It's been approximately 12 minutes since my last fix, and really, if the headache wouldn't have knocked me to the floor, it would be five, but I was having trouble reaching for the keyboard, and man- is my floor ever dirty!

    I am so far gone, I can't look at you right now without seeing a story, and I can't go anywhere without sneaking new good stuff to feed my addiction.

    I have ideas hidden everywhere even in steam on my bathroom mirror.

    Sorry if you expected more out of me boys, I'm caught in a cycle where I have to write to succeed and I have to succeed by writing. Make sense?

    I don't mind sharing the hard stuff but I enjoy the company of other addicts because let's face it, they know exactly which I fix I need and how quickly I can get it.

    I'd like a supplier to keep me going, we call them agents or publishers, but really, we know they just encourage the madness.

    I've ask for help, but all it gets me is a pat of the back and a sympathetic nod. "You'll get there." Where do they think I want to go? Bed?

    I was on the wagon once... gosh. That's a lifetime ago.

    EJ, it's just easier to accept the truth. We are addicts. And we suffer for it. What will could come it? Who cares, just give me another blank page.

  15. I'd say Walk On, by U2, would be my motivator kind of song....

  16. Now that is a good question. I have a song for just about everything else in my life. Do I have a song that sums up my writing experience? Let me go check my itunes library. Okay, I'm back. I see that many of the songs in my playlist relate to specific stories I have written. But I guess I could say "Get It Right" by Brendan James could be a writing inspiration song for me. :)

  17. I'm always inspired by The Wind Beneath my Wings, because that's what my characters and stories are. But what you've written is true, and one must be a writer to understand this process.

  18. I don't know if this makes sense, but at this point I feel like I'm writing because I want to see if I can pull off the vision that I have.

  19. Nice post.I tihnk every writer deals with this. We're all insecure and keep pushing forwards because we can't stop ourselves.

  20. I like Linkin Park. I get what you mean. It is a thankless task in so many ways. Some days I dread sitting down at the keyboard again. I always talk myself into it, but it's hard. I think I heard Thomas Wolfe talking about that once, that writing is really hard.

  21. Do I have a song? Yeah. The lyrics go like this "I went to war with reality! The mother fucker was a waitin' for me and I LOST AGAIN!"

  22. Wow EJ, you're hard on yourself huh? I doubt myself, but if Muriel Spark and Virginia Woolf wrote me and said I was good, I'd believe them. Clearly, that will never happen, but a girl can dream...

  23. I so appreciate this post! It is great, real and raw~ I love your voice! We all know it is a battle, an excavation to the soul extracted through the mind's eye. We are puppets to this process. Why I don't did we get to this state? There must be a personality test that draws the lines around us. I feel this way about all art forms...
    A lot of people I know in my world, just don't get it. I am so thankful for blogging friends like you! We can share the strife and glory! We get the struggle, the battle of puzzled thoughts. For me, I want people to feel something when they read my words..besides damn, her grammar sucks again. I need to work on
    I want to strike a nerve, stir up a memory and conjure the depth of one's soul! Tall order there, lol
    Great song pick~ My daughter has been playing Kimbra's song
    "Cameo Lover" and the lyrics are starting to settle in my head. I can relate to these words:

    "This is nonstop baby
    You've got me going crazy
    You're heavier than I knew
    But I don't want no other
    You're my cameo love
    Only here for a moment or two
    You stay inside that bubble
    With all of your trouble
    In your black hole
    You turn from the skies
    You dance with your demise
    I'll be here when you come home"

    I feel like my spirit is possessed by

    Today, I am struggling to write. My daughter playing music loud and proud. I would say "Bad Company" by Five Finger Death Punch~ (I'm the Bad Company)

  24. Love that song by Linkin Park. Back when I used to role-play, I had a character that I thought of every time that song came on the radio.

  25. That is a great writing song. And I do know exactly where you're coming from.

    There are some parts of my story that touch a nerve in me every time I work on them. And this is about the eighth time I've been over it. :-)


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

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