ugly truth about writing

The Ugly Truth About Writing

It sucks.

I don’t need to write anymore, but I’m gonna. Please re-read that last sentence with all the sass God, Heather, and your own personal verbosity allow.

Reasons writing sucks:

  1. The English language is ridiculous. Therefore, trying to communicate a message in the confines of its impossible structure creates difficulties.
  2. People don’t like to read. So, they frequently only read a few words, completely misunderstand the context of the text, and share bad information at your expense. Super fun. And dumb.
  3. If you’re looking to make money off said writing, well, pull up a chair and let Aunt Heather tell you a story.

Many years ago, I decided to take on the inexplicable task of writing a children’s book. I’m sure you’ve not heard of it. It’s called Caroline Girls. It’s so beautiful and I’m so proud of it, but it barely left the ground. I hustled hard for the book too. It cost me a lot of time and money to produce. I scarcely broke even. Self-publishing is a game you don’t wanna play. I’m just sayin. Unless you have some kind of in with the industry, don’t do it.

writing - caroline girls

During one of my sales events at the Indianapolis International Airport in 2017. Retail management at the airport was very supportive. I’m very grateful.

Amazon wouldn’t even let me sell my book as anything other than as a third-party seller. FOR MY OWN BOOK. They said I had to “win” it. As I frequently tell my nephews: Aunt Heather don’t play. I know how games work. You can do everything right and still lose. So, no thank you, ma’am.

Now I have a friend who is interested in putting together a book and I’m compiling some notes of things I learned. Here’s how I started my notes: Welcome, you’ve decided to take on an animal 🙂 I hope you’re ready. This requires a lot of work and, ideally, a team. You won’t be able to do it all, nor should you.

  1. Decide on the type of publishing.
  2. Marketing (website, graphics, appearances, where to sell, etc.)
  3. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Then there’s the other thing … cuz there’s always another thing …

The other part about writing (and I’m sure this translates into other professions as well) that’s so dang annoying – how easy it is to become famous for writing … based on things that have nothing to do with writing.

A few examples: author Colleen Hoover. I am personally not a fan of her writing. I’ve read her work. It’s not for me. Some people absolutely adore her. Well, one viral TikTok video later, and now the whole stinking world just can’t get enough of her. Because of one TikTok video!? Her writing didn’t get any better. Neither did the stories. She literally didn’t do anything differently with her writing. Her marketing strategy changed. Good for her. That doesn’t impress me linguistically. Yep, I’m a super snob that way.

Then remember Save Karyn? This shopaholic went into crazy debt, wrote a book about it, and then dredged her story all over the radio begging for money. People couldn’t get enough. They thought it was brilliant! I mean, it kind of was if you’re into that sort of thing. Her book, in my opinion, was not well written either. Many people gave her a lot of flak for begging to get out of debt to which she simply replied (I’m paraphrasing), “I understand and you don’t have to help if you don’t want to.” But she totally leaned into her crazy. The last sentence of her back cover summary was: You’re probably jealous that you didn’t think of it first.

Again, the point is, these tactics didn’t improve the writing. It improved their popularity. It improved their sales. It didn’t improve their craft.

So, sure, you’re in it for the quick cash grab and you’ve got a gimmick people will buy into, by all means, let me step aside for you to roll around with the underbelly of America. It’s classless. So, stop it.

For the People Writing and Wading Through It …

Even established authors I adore struggle to get their books published. I’ve followed Jen Lancaster from the beginning and her journey has been amazing. She’s been wildly successful. Struggled to get her publishers to allow her to publish the books she wants to write and then had to take an alternative publishing route to write for her readers.


She recently started blogging again. LOVE THAT JOURNEY FOR HER, in my best Alexis Rose voice, and she shared this morsel on a recent blog which inspired this post:

writing - alexis rose - schitt's creek

“The downside of writing only memoir was that the process forced me to live exclusively in my own head as a way to generate content. I couldn’t just go and do, to simply enjoy and be present, because I’d be mentally categorizing the whole experience, analyzing how I’d recap it for maximum hilarity. Instead of extricating myself from situations that were frustrating, annoying, or vaguely dangerous, I’d lean into them, just to see what tales could come of it.” – Jen Lancaster, on writing memoirs.

I was moved. The writing process, amiright? Again, I’m sure this translates to other professions as well as other writing endeavors; it was impactful for me.

But here I sit, tethered to the hem of Satan’s mistress because I just love writing so much. Maybe one day I’ll teach writing. They say those who can’t do, teach. I can’t ever seem to sell my writing for much of anything, so let’s see if maybe one day I can teach others to sell theirs for something.

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Heather Chastain

About Heather

(So, my web designer says I needed to include a bio, though I find this task silly because, if you’re here, you know me.)

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. It’s a cathartic mechanism when I need release from my anxiety. I’ve had blogs in the past; I’ve taken them down, but I never stopped writing. I simply can’t. My notes app is forever long as it’s filled with pages and pages of different topics. Sometimes I just write a few sentences. Sometimes I write paragraphs.

Recently, I've been writing long essays. My friends and others I hold dear have coaxed me into sharing my work again.

So that's what I'm doing, you wicked, pushy people. LOL

I have no desire to see my writing be anything more than an opportunity to share what I love doing most. I have no interest in this blog reaching the masses.

I thought it would be fun to call it My Spicy Disaster because that's often how I feel. A complete mess of epic proportion. So join me, if you'd like, and let's pretend we're not sitting amongst the chaos crying, but laughing instead.

Or maybe we do cry sometimes, but then wipe our tears and remember one person’s disaster is another person’s … well, who the hell knows …