The Chair Without my Butt in It

Written By Karen Hogan


I set myself the task of writing. There’s the novel, there’s the essay, there’s the blog, and the tweets.

Gotta get the first draft of the novel done or I’ll never get to the second draft. Gotta get an essay done ‘cause that might be easier to get published, which means that I can say I’m a published writer, which means that I will be taken more seriously when it comes to sending the novel out for multiple rounds of rejection. Gotta’ do the blog ’cause that builds my platform which means an agent will be more interested in me because, look! I already have an audience that adores me! Gotta get those tweets out ’cause it gets people to the blog which convinces the agent that I should be taken seriously, not only because I’ve had an essay published but I have this adoring public that is already lined up at the bookstore waiting for my novel to be released. Not to mention the rights to the movie circling for a landing.

Stop. Stop obsessing. Just get back to the writing. That’s what’s important. Write what I want to say.

I’ll write the blog and get that out of the way. But, wait, maybe the blog is taking me away from what I’m really supposed to be writing — the novel. Writing the blog is just another way of avoiding writing the novel.

Okay, the novel.

But, people will stop coming to the blog if I don’t post something.

Okay, the blog.

But, the novel. The characters are going to feel neglected if I don’t stay with them. This is really my life’s work. This novel.

Okay, the novel.

Maybe I can blog about the novel. Maybe writing the blog will help me with the characters. Maybe I can write the blog in the voice of one of the characters.

But then it changes the voice of my blog.

Blog. Novel. Blog. Novel. Blog. Novel.

And now it’s Thursday.

Writing might be one of the most ridiculous professions on the planet, if not the universe. So much of it lives up to the free in freelance. Starting pay is getting published. A friend of mine in the corporate writing world said I shouldn’t market myself as a writer because the corporate world looks at writing as something they can outsource to India.

It just got more ridiculous.

And yet, I believe. Writing is my dowsing tool. It’s what sustains me. It’s what makes me feel centered in my life. I can even feel that when I do technical or business writing. One just needs to get a bit more creative about that nagging food and shelter thing.

I don’t have the solution yet. But I’m working on it.

In the meantime, butt gets into chair. I started with this post. Next is writing for the 10,000 word day. I’ll use it to get started on a memoir about three women I knew and my search for mom. The connecting themes are: how do you find a Mother’s Day card for that, vibrators, and death

Wait, a memoir’s something new in the mix. That might actually make some money.

Oh, right. The novel. I won’t forget it.
Karen Hogan writes short stories, literary nonfiction, essays and poetry. She is currently working on her first novel. She has hosted a literary salon for the past seven years, a place where writers come to read their own writing and listen to others. She has published five anthologies that have come out of the salon. She has directed and performed in staged readings of short stories and The Vagina Monologues, and has appeared in The Diviners. As she wrote in a poem several years ago, Karen writes to make herself right with the world, to feel the truth that life is neither just, nor right, but a story unfolding in the order just right. You can read more of Karen’s work at the Writing Shed.

9 Responses to The Chair Without my Butt in It
  1. Boonies Chick
    Twitter: fearofwriting
    January 6, 2011 | 11:02 AM

    This is a classic! I loved the humor. So quotable, and so dead-on. This is what it’s like inside of A Writer. I laughed out loud when you talked about how ridiculous it is.

    Implied throughout is how much energy we waste on these dilemmas when we could be writing instead. If only we knew which bit to work on first! Butt in chair, make a decision, and just start writing. But the passion has to be there, or else we’re only writing for some future promise of success. Which can be pretty hollow. So it all comes back to passion.

    Thanks for such an entertaining reminder. It was crazy-fun to read but also serves as a wake-up call. Perfect combo.

  2. j
    January 6, 2011 | 11:42 AM

    Hilarious, true and, yes, ridiculous! Love, love, love this post.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Milli & j and CurtissAnn Matlock. CurtissAnn Matlock said: Check out this post. I so relate: The Chair Without my Butt in It […]

  4. Lois
    January 7, 2011 | 11:59 AM

    Karen, this is so timely. I don’t have several writing projects vying for my time, but I’ve got several different creative projects doing so. I’m constantly having to decide whether to work on my screenplay edit, my knitting, my drawing (which I haven’t really been feeling lately), my digital scrapbooking and photo edits, etc. The writing has been coming first because I really want my screenplay to be made into a movie. I want it so bad, I can taste it. 🙂

    Thanks for the words of encouragement! It’s so good to know that I’m not the only one who has to make these kinds of decisions. 😀


    • Karen Hogan
      January 7, 2011 | 12:18 PM


      Being a Rennaisance person keeps life complicated. But it does make it interesting. Thanks for reading.


  5. Karen Hogan
    January 7, 2011 | 12:16 PM

    Sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday. My butt, unfortunately has to take a break from its chair. I’m having back problems. How ironic is that?

    Glad you enjoyed my post. It was fun writing it. It put the whole thing in perspective. Which, of course, will keep me calm ’til I lose perspective again.

    • Karen Hogan
      January 7, 2011 | 12:21 PM

      Bonnie, this was supposed to be a reply to your comment. I don’t know what happened. I might be having brain problems along with that back one.

      Karen Hogan

  6. jane, candid
    January 20, 2011 | 7:35 PM

    Karen, I loved this post! Your butt could have been sitting in my chair when you wrote it, as it so closely mirrors my experience. What a great reminder to focus on the one thing (whatever it may be!)

  7. Rob Ross
    February 20, 2015 | 12:33 AM

    just wondered if you grew up in Eugene, Oregon and went to Spencer Butte Junior High?

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?