FIVE Reasons Being a Writer is Kind of Like Having Food Poisoning

Yes, you read that title correctly.  I am just about to compare my life as a writer to tossing your cookies, bouts of explosive diarrhea, and my least favorite part of being sick, those agonizing dry-heaves (does anyone else cry when your body won’t stop throwing up despite the fact that your stomach is completely and painfully empty – I do – I totally cry and I’m not ashamed to admit it). 

Obviously, this might be a gross one, so if you’re easily disgusted, LOOK AWAY!  Do NOT read on (let me also add that if you fall into this category you might be a big weeny and I double dog dare ya’ to keep reading)!!  But if I’ve captured your interest and you’re wondering how anyone in their right mind could compare writing to blowing chunks, read on, my friend (I want to clarify that I am not actually claiming to be in my right mind – obviously, if I was, I probably wouldn’t have written the following post). 

ONE:  Sometimes you have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to puke out an idea before you can fall asleep. This is the statement that inspired this post. It came to me last night after I had spent the previous week up all hours with sick children and they were all finally well and fast asleep , but I couldn’t sleep because my brain wouldn’t stop thinking about a project I’m finishing up. So I drug myself out of bed and typed it down. And just like when you’ve tossed and turned with a pukey stomach and you finally accept that you’re gonna have to let it out in order to be comfortable, I zonked into dream land as soon as my head hit the pillow after I’d purged the idea from my brain into my laptop.

TWO:  Always remember, it may not just be a fart. This applies to when you’ve got salmonella induced diarrhea or a sudden burst of creativity. Okay, stop pretending like you don’t know what I’m talking about! It happens to everyone. My family even has an elite club for anyone who is willing to admit to the time they pooped their pants. It can be mortifying when it’s literally not a fart. But it’s actually kind of awesome when your “creative fart” is a full on explosion.

THREE:  Just when you think you’ve barfed every possible remnant that ever was food from your body, you find there’s still a little more. This happens during the editing process. You thought that you were done writing that story, but as you read through your “final” project you see things you can add to make it better. This may just mean minor changes that deepen your characters or move the plot forward in a more compelling way. For my last manuscript this included flipping chapters around – which was almost like having to sit on the toilet AND hold a bucket to your face at the same time. Sorry, I couldn’t resist including that visual (and to be honest, I’m not actually sorry, but I feel like maybe I should be).

FOUR:  You might find yourself rushing to the bathroom to barf, but it’s just dry heaves. This happens when you edit too much! Sometimes you have to accept that there are countless ways to change a story, to tweak it one way or another, but at some point you must have faith that it is done (at least until your agent or editor gets their hands on it – then brace yourself…chances are you might be praying to the porcelain god again – figuratively speaking, of course).

FIVE:   It’s okay to take a little break from eating whatever it was that initially made you so sick. After blowing partially digested oatmeal and orange juice all over the girl next to me on the bus that was shuttling me to kindergarten, I couldn’t even think about oatmeal or orange juice for years without feeling slightly nauseous. The smell of either one made me envision that poor girl, with chunks of my puke dripping from the ends of her long, blonde hair. Sometimes, after finishing a project, I need to switch gears so I don’t burn myself out. For example, as I’m waiting for my agent to sell my paranormal YA manuscript, I’m finishing up edits on an adult comedy screenplay and I’m about to dive into writing a slightly more serious YA novel that I’ve plotted out. It’s also okay to belly up to a giant bowl of oatmeal and orange juice if you feel up to it. The important thing is to trust your gut. Eat (and write) something that doesn’t make you feel sick.

There!  I did it!  I somehow managed to find a way to write an entire blog post comparing writing to poop and puke.  The 10 year-old boy in me just did a fist-pump.  The 7 year-old girl inside just giggled and blushed.  And the adult me is torn between being slightly ashamed of myself and wanting to stand in front of the bathroom mirror and proclaim that I  totally rock.   I should end by saying I’m sorry if any portion of this post made you wretch.  I really should, but I can’t.  Not with a straight face anyway.   I hope your gag reflex kicked in at least once while you read this.  *Fist-pump* *Giggle* *Blush*

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6 thoughts on “FIVE Reasons Being a Writer is Kind of Like Having Food Poisoning

  1. Clare C. says:

    Great post! As one who recently survived her first bout with food poisoning, I appreciate the vivid truths (and humor) of this message. (And, for the record, you got an audible chuckle from me, Jess!)

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