On Writing & Storytelling: Trials and Tribulations, and Other Issues

A “selfie” I took back in 2020.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway

I have a confession to make.

Sometimes, in my darkest, loneliest, saddest times, I wish I wasn’t a writer.

Most of the time, I don’t feel that way.

Most of the time, I wake up early, drink my by-now-traditional café con leche, then cloister myself in my room – which, at some point in the TBA future, will cease to be my room here – from 8 in the morning to roughly 6:30 PM, and write. Blog posts, mostly, and every so often, if my imagination and enthusiasm are in sync, a screenplay. Occasionally, I will write a haiku (I’ve been writing haikus since November, although I don’t always follow the forms of that style of poetry).

Whoever said, “Writing is easy…” clearly does not know how much hard work goes into writing, and writing well.

Put simply, I write every day of the week, Monday through Sunday, without exception (unless, of course, nature intervenes in the form of a tropical storm or hurricane, or if TECO, our local power company, has an outage[1]).

Sometimes, if I know for sure what I’m going to write about, I “hit the ground running” at 8 in the morning and, after going through the various steps that serious writers take when they work on something – writing, reading the copy, editing, re-reading the copy once, even twice, rewriting if necessary, and re-reading the copy again till I am satisfied the blog post is ready for publication on WordPress[2] or, on occasion, Blogger – I hit the Publish button three or four hours later.[3]

Lots of times, though, especially when I’m depressed or stressed over my future, I will sit at my computer and stare mindlessly at my glowing monitor, hoping that an idea, or even a shadow of an idea, will present itself.

And – I must admit, if we’re going to go for total honesty here – I often fall into the trap of going on social media (particularly Facebook and Twitter) and spending (or wasting, if you prefer) valuable time there, scrolling down the timeline or allowing myself to get drawn into stupid arguments with total strangers over politics.

Oh, I’ll eventually snap out of it and get on with my writing once I finally decide what the hell I’m going to write about, but by then it’s already past noon and I’ll end up writing well past my planned “stop time” of 5:30 PM.[4]

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” E.L. Doctorow

So, yes. Writing is as much a part of my life as eating, excreting, making love, walking, or even breathing. I love it. I have been writing, in one way or another, since I was nine years old. Sometime in my teens – I forget when, exactly – I realized that it’s what I was meant to do, especially since my disability (which I hate mentioning or even thinking about) prevented me from following other paths I might have followed, such as a career as a pilot (like my father) or joining the armed forces.

This is what I was doing on Monday morning…

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

And yet…sometimes I wish I didn’t have a passion for the written word, especially at a time when many people don’t read for pleasure or even bother to read newspapers (either in print or digital editions) because it’s either a waste of time or because “mainstream media” can’t be trusted.  

I’ve met many individuals – men, mostly – who brag with a weird pride that only a non-reader can understand, that they’ve never read a book for pleasure. They’ve argued – to my face, so this is not anecdotal – that reading fiction for fun is a waste of valuable time that could be used for more practical purposes, such as “actual work.”

I’ve even been told that people – usually guys who don’t know how much energy and effort goes into writing anything more complicated than a shopping list or a text message – think I’m so spoiled because “all he does is sit in front of a computer all day.”

“I don’t know much about creative writing programs. But they’re not telling the truth if they don’t teach, one, that writing is hard work, and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.”Doris Lessing

Writing is a profession. It’s not an easy profession to break into, and the route to becoming a best-selling author a la Stephen King, Danielle Steel, James Patterson, Jennifer Egan, George R.R. Martin, or Nora Roberts is often arduous, long, and winding.

This is especially true if you want to follow in those writers’ footsteps and get published by traditional editorial companies. You know, big-name publishing companies such as HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan Publishers.[5]

If I wasn’t so easily intimidated by the process – ranging from writing a manuscript (including creating an outline, which I never do) to signing up with a literary agent – of getting published, and if I didn’t have flaws in my personality – such as low levels of self-esteem and lack of confidence in my skills as a writer -I might have submitted Reunion: A Story to one of the Big Five publishers for publication and at least get a nice enough advance to buy a house of my own.

And since success is often the best revenge on the “Why doesn’t Alex get a real job” asshats, a nice stream of comfortable (and taxable) income would earn me a modicum of respect, if not admiration.

But since I lack both the persistence and ability to withstand rejection, I took the even riskier route of self-publishing through Amazon, which is in turn easier (because you get your book “published” even if it’s the worst piece of literature ever written) and harder (because, unless you have deep pockets and can afford marketing services that cost extra, you have to do your own self-promotion).

There are several mistakes on this page, some of them minor, that I had to correct.

This is one of the reasons why I needed to fix all the issues in Reunion: A Story. It might not be the best story ever written, but it is a good story – I can show you 10 reviews that say just that – and I worked long and hard to make sure it is entertaining and emotionally involving, My hope – naïve as it might be – is that enough people, starting with my friends and acquaintances, will buy Reunion, read it, then recommend it to other people, who will then read it and recommend it to even more people.

Told you I could show you the good reviews. (Not all 10 in one screenshot, though!)

And since I’m not a natural salesperson, I have a difficult time convincing folks to part with their dollars, euros, pounds, pesos, or yen, in exchange for my stories.

So, yeah. Sometimes I wish I could have followed a different career path.

Most of the time, though, I push on. I persist.

I’m a writer. That’s what I do. That’s what I was meant to do.

[1] In the nearly seven years since I moved from Miami to the Tampa Bay area, I have not experienced a power outage that lasted for more than an hour. Not even when we’ve had hurricanes or tropical storms. We’re fugitives from the law of averages, at least in my current neighborhood in Lithia.

[2] And these are the things I usually do before I go to WordPress (or Blogger). Once I’m creating the post on my site, I add the illustrations and/or audio-visual content (mostly YouTube videos). This is, I suppose, analogous to the post-production phase of making a movie….

[3] My typing speed is “okay” for a guy who still uses just one or two fingers on a keyboard, but Speedy Gonzales I am not.

[4] Then there are those rare occasions, such as when I wrote the Remembering Cheryl T series last November, when I will start writing something early in the morning and don’t “let it go” until it’s almost midnight. I’ll only pause to eat – if I remember to do that – or go to the bathroom, but otherwise, I write like a man possessed.

[5] AKA The Big Five.


Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

4 thoughts on “On Writing & Storytelling: Trials and Tribulations, and Other Issues

  1. I cannot believe someone who brags about never reading for pleasure. That’s stunting your life experiences and making you less trustworthy in my opinion.

    I certainly loved your book and I will keep promoting it. Unfortunately, when you self publish no one will know about your book’s existence unless you advertise it yourself, which is difficult, as you say. There are also a lot of self published books that are pretty bad. I’ve read many. You have to convince potential buyers you are not one of them. The reviews certainly help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My jaw drops every time I hear someone – proudly – say that reading for pleasure is not important. They’re not only disrespecting readers; they’re disrespecting writers and thinkers.

      The worst offenders are the ones who sanctimoniously say the only book we should read is the Bible.

      Uh, no!

      As for self-promotion: I know it’s necessary, but I am not good at it! I’m okay at creating stuff, and I’m a bit more at ease helping others with their work, though I’m not a PR expert.

      Thank you, Thomas, for YOUR kind support in promoting my book.

      Liked by 1 person

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