I’m Not an Aspiring Novelist (at least for now)

When a blog reader (let’s call her Rachel) sought my advice about writing a novel while running a blog, I was thrilled to help. Little did I know that our conversation would help me more than it probably helped her. She gave me permission to share our thoughts back and forth. The following is some of Rachel’s first email to me.
 For a long time I’ve wanted to blog and also start writing fiction again, and I end up not committing to either because they both seem so time-consuming to do well. Like right now I’m reading my second Nicole Krauss book (Great House), which is so deep and wonderful, and I can’t imagine her blogging! Both because blogging seems to me like a  different sensibility from fiction (almost polar opposites really) and it would be tough to switch back and forth.                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Do you find yourself writing fiction less because of the blog and attention to social media? And if so, what has made it worth it? (I know you’ve limited yourself to the once a week blogging, but still, I imagine it’s tough striking a balance.)
I answered in a list and somewhere in the middle started asking questions then answering them—about myself. Aren’t I helpful? The summary:                                                                                                                                                                     
  • I explained that blogging has forced me to develop a confident writing voice as well as complete short assignments once a week or more.
  • I admitted that the instant gratification of seeing my work out there and getting feedback on my thoughts has kept me coming back to blogging like a drug.
  • I explained that blogging tends to work best within the blogging community, which means you have to read other blogs and leave comments if you expect your audience to grow beyond your family and friends.
  • I acknowledged that this all absolutely takes away from the fiction, which I didn’t mind that much since I wasn’t enjoying writing fiction anymore anyway.
  • I surprised myself when I wrote that last bit to her. I’d known it for a long time, however I’d been operating under the assumption that I was still an aspiring novelist, and I had yet to say otherwise to anyone.                                                                                                                                                                                                       
We continued to email.
Hi Nina,
I’m under no delusions that blogging is not time consuming. Even if once a week. What I’ve always loved about your posts is how thoughtful and well-written they are, so I’m quite sure you’re coming at them the same way I would—that you don’t just dash them off (and then, like you said, there’s the social media).
Fiction has long been at the back of my mind (per your “just do it” post) and I’ve certainly dabbled. But I feel like to do it well, you need time—time to get in the mindset, time to simply string one sentence together with another, time to shut away the world and go deep into yourself.
That’s tough I think when half of what one is doing is ‘world aware’ with blogging, not to mention work itself or parenting and whatever else one has that’s squarely in the world. So in other words, they both take time. How to decide?
Everything you’ve said makes sense. And it makes me wonder . . . why we all even want to write fiction anyway. It’s lonely, the industry is getting tougher for writers, it pays (on the whole) terribly. Blogging on the other hand connects you to like-minded people, gives you the chance to inspire others on a more frequent basis, etc. etc. And yet . . .                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
So I guess that’s part of it for you. . . could blogging in and of itself be enough?
I’ve been coming back to Rachel’s last question for the past few weeks. The rest of this post is my answer. Rachel will be reading it for the first time here.                                                                                                      
Rachel asked, “Could blogging in and of itself be enough?”

Believe it or not, for now the answer is yes.

The blogging/essay form works for me. Like Rachel kindly said, I don’t ever throw something together. When I mentioned finding weekly blog posts easier than fiction, I think I meant “more fun.” It’s not always easy, but I love it anyway. And here’s a major benefit—people seem to enjoy reading my non-fiction “stuff.”

A random essay I wrote last fall on TC Jewfolk.com was shared on Facebook 500+ times and used by two rabbis I’d never met in their High Holiday sermons. I think each of my short stories has been read on average six times. (By the editor who chose it, by my parents, my aunt NanC, my aunt Barbara, and a few of my most loyal blog readers.) I have always felt a sense of satisfaction when one of my stories gets placed in a literary journal for the simple fact that it’s so dang hard to get stories accepted. Still, there’s an “if a trees fall in the forest” reality to the short story world and even the novel world. It’s lonely out there for most writers of fiction, which brings me to my next issue.

For the past year or more I’ve had this nagging “sage and classic writing advice voice” in my head telling me that if I love writing so much I should worry less about having an audience and just enjoy the process. This voice accuses me of confusing writing with publishing. This voice says that real writers don’t care if people read their work.

You know what? That might be true for some writers and other creative types, and it was even true for me when I took my first fiction class for fun one summer when I was 22. At this point in my life, however, “just enjoying the process and never thinking about getting work out there” sounds like a bit of utopian writer bullshit.

I believe that advice is absolutely true for writers deep into their publishing careers who are tired of the marketing and begging that goes hand-in-hand with trying to sell books nowadays. But for those of us on the other side, it’s not always the most helpful thing to hear. It reminds me of times I’ve been tempted to tell first-time moms-to-be to enjoy their pregnancies because they’ll miss certain aspects of it once the baby comes. I probably did that after I had my first baby. Four babies later, I get that it’s annoying to hear “appreciate these days” when you’re chewing your twentieth Tums of the afternoon and your back pain makes you feel like you’re growing an elephant in there.

I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people who spend time writing do so with the hope of seeing their work in the world one day, and there shouldn’t be any shame in that goal. I still want to be a “real” writer, meaning I would like to eventually stretch beyond the world of blogging, wherever it takes me. For most of my life, I’ve imagined fiction as the only way I could be a “real” writer. I’m starting to come around.

I’m tired of calling myself an aspiring novelist when I’m not writing a novel right now. I haven’t been writing a novel for a year, and I don’t plan on writing one any time soon. It feels good to say so to myself and to say so here. Turns out I’m not up for the solitary experience anymore. I think Rachel is right when she states that writing fiction requires an inward focus that’s different from the type of writing I do now.

At this point in my life, I write to communicate. I’m drawn to non-fiction so why on Earth would I fight what feels natural? Letting go of fiction for a bit gives me some space to explore other non-fiction avenues—not in book form for now, but maybe more on the personal essay/freelance side. I don’t know . . . the good news is that erasing the label “aspiring novelist” from my mental tagline frees me from feeling bad about the time I spend on the blog and social media. I do seem to have a knack for this particular gig and instead of feeling crappy about that, I suppose I ought to work it while I can.

I have no idea where the world of non-fiction will take me. I have limited time to write (see the fabulous picture below), and I just want to explore. The blog/essay/article ideas come all the time. I have 40 unfinished posts in my WordPress draft folder. 40! I have a folder of half-written stories and novels as well, but even glancing at that little icon on my desktop gives me a stomach ache. Not exactly a good sign for an “aspiring novelist.”

Could blogging be enough, Rachel asks. Seems like it’s more than enough. Seems as though, for now, I have plenty to say. On the day that I’m ready to go inward again, I can revisit the imaginary world.

So it turns out I’m experimenting with thinking of myself as an essayist. What to do with this? I’m not razor-sharp funny like David Sedaris, Steve Almond, Sloane Crosley, Dave Berry, or others who have made careers out of humor. I’m not a journalist or a reporter. I’m not Joan Didion with wise words to share about living through tragedy.

In my dream writing world of the future, (after years of practice and experience), I’d become a combination of Nora Ephron, whom I admire for her wit; Anne Lamott, whom I admire for her honesty and insight; and Cheryl Strayed, whom I admire for her stunning courage on and off the page.

Of course in the end, I can only be me. And yes, for now that is enough.

So readers, that’s the (long) summary of my writing identity crisis. Can you relate? Can people on other career paths relate? And back to Rachel’s main question, is it possible to write novels and a blog and do both well?

A special thank you to my blogging friend and fellow writer, “Rachel.” We’ve continued to email about her writing journey and mine. Maybe one day we’ll meet at a writing conference. I have a feeling we will. 

NOTE ADDED TO SAY: The conversation is so fantastic in the comments section, and I don’t want to interrupt the flow with my two cents and my little avatar. I’ll be responding to individuals via email and visiting blogs this week. I’m here listening and reading, but I’ll visit you at “your place.” Keep the discussion going!

As long as I’m getting uber-personal in this post . . . From left to right: Elissa (3), Nathan (6 months), Sam (7), Rebecca (5)

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Nina is a columnist at The HerStories Project and a contributing writer at Kveller.com and Greatnewbooks.org. Her essays have appeared regularly at Brain, Child Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward and have been syndicated in Jewish newspapers across the country. Her short stories have appeared in over a dozen literary magazines, and she loved participating in the 2013 cast of Listen to Your Mother. Nina is a co-founder of The Twin Cities Writing Studio. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

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114 Responses to I’m Not an Aspiring Novelist (at least for now)
  1. Women's Fiction Writer
    May 8, 2012 | 7:05 am

    Since I’m doing both (and have done both) I certainly hope it’s possible!!!

    As for setting aside fiction, you have to be true to where you are right now in your real life with your real self and real family. Come back to it or not, doesn’t matter. What matters is that you just keep writing something. xo

  2. Galit Breen (@GalitBreen)
    May 8, 2012 | 7:08 am

    I love the transparent honesty here, Nina.

    I think that our best work comes from this place exactly – a place of chart and where we truly want to be.

    Good luck to the essayist and freelancer side of you! I think you’ll wear those roles well! :)

    (And love the photo! Adorbs! :))

  3. MarinaSofia
    May 8, 2012 | 7:15 am

    I certainly love reading your blogs and would be sad to lose them (so that’s my purely selfish side talking). Probably there are times in our lives when we are better suited for one or the other, or both or more or even none. The only tragedy is trying to force ourselves to do something that doesn’t feel right just because we ‘ought to.’

  4. TJ
    May 8, 2012 | 7:34 am

    Thanks for being real. =)

    Sometimes I think I would want to do something “bigger” than what I’m doing. I am a teacher, but sometimes I wonder if I want to do something beyond a classroom of 7th graders. I write my Peanut Butter Cup Moments for a few friends and family, and I get to teach the 8-10 kids in our youth group at church once in a while, but sometimes I wonder if I want to be inspirational and speak on a bigger level.

    When I think of those goals in terms of how far away I am from them, then I get discouraged.

    Over the past year, however, I’ve begun thinking of this time period as training ground for my future. I should enjoy what I’m doing now–not for the sake of just enjoying it because I’m supposed to, but because it’s getting me ready for whatever may be in my future. I’m where I am for a purpose…and like you said, I’m good with it for now.

    And if my goals change, that’s okay, too. Maybe this time is about learning who I am and what I can and want to do.

  5. annegreenwoodbrown
    May 8, 2012 | 7:37 am

    Okay, I’ll shut up now! You’ve found success; why abandon it for something else? I imagine that was a very cathartic post to write.

    (btw, I think you’re funny.)

    (btww, gorgeous pic!)

  6. Cym
    May 8, 2012 | 7:37 am

    Nina, I’m glad you’re doing what makes you happy and even happier you’re at ease with it too! Now I know (as a friend and not a writer) what to ask about when we talk about your writing! Your blogs are always insightful and funny, I look forward to reading them….minus of course the ones that don’t relate to me as a non-writer 😉 Keep up your great work! xox

  7. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson
    May 8, 2012 | 8:04 am

    I am working on my fiction WIP and blogging, but they are totally different things. Like you said, the blogging helps me feel confident that people might actually want to read my stuff one day because it is written in the same voice(s). Kind of.


    You are an amazing essayist; I would argue right up there with the best of ’em. So I hope to read more Badzin, in whatever form it takes. And with 63 little ones, um… I think it’s okay to be mommy and sn essayist. Writing a novel is an exercise that is not always conducive to family happiness. Trust me in this.

  8. Christy Farmer
    May 8, 2012 | 8:29 am

    Love the honesty and being true to yourself, Nina! If it helps, you are the top essayist I read and I am really enjoying your posts on Huffington Post. :-)

  9. crytzerfry
    May 8, 2012 | 8:39 am

    Nina- this may be my FAVORITE post you’ve ever written … The honesty of Rachel’s questions and your responses … I could have been the one to write Rachel’s letter to you in the respect of her belief that “blogging seems to me like a different sensibility from fiction (almost polar opposites really) and it would be tough to switch back and forth.” YES! This is why my blog has suffered this year in terms of consistent posts — because fiction and blogging ARE such different animals and because I have turned inward to focus on my fiction. That’s the other thing I love about this discussion — Rachel’s comment that fiction requires “time to get in the mindset, time beyond simply stringing one sentence together with another, time to shut away the world and go deep into yourself.” YES! YES! YES!

    That being said, I agree with you, also, Nina, about people who wax and wane poetic about writing for the sake of writing. Yes, I have that desire because I love the creative process, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be published, or as you and Rachel said, to get my words “out” in the world.

    I’m glad you’ve come to this realization, Nina, about yourself. Couldn’t agree more that you’re good at nonfiction, blogging, etc — and as I was reading (before I got to your revelations), I thought: “Nina should freelance!” Funny thing is that you and I are in completely flip-flopped positions. I did the freelance and am burnt out. Now I want, more than anything, to focus on fiction! Good luck figuring it out. You’ve taken the biggest, most crucial first step just in working through it in your mind. Bravo for you!

    PS Did you read Julia’s post last week? It’s reminiscent of this and how blogging can help and detract re: other writing goals.

  10. By Word Of Mouth Musings
    May 8, 2012 | 8:42 am

    Reading posts like yours are pretty much my reading material of late … books, ack, I don’t seem to have the time to consider either reading one or writing one. Love your honesty – there is no reason that this cannot be enough if it makes you happy and whole and comfortable. You are a real writer and you have plenty to say, and so many of us out here are soaking it in.

  11. Shary Hover
    May 8, 2012 | 9:09 am

    I’ve backed off my blogging schedule this year and have felt guilty about it. I was having a hard time doing both fiction and blogging, so I turned my focus to fiction. And then I felt guilty for neglecting blogging. Thanks for this post that reminded me to listen to my own inner voice. I can still visit the blogs I enjoy and participate in the community even if I’m not posting as often. Without the guilt and the feeling that I should be doing something different, maybe my fiction writing sessions will be even better.

  12. jeffo
    May 8, 2012 | 9:22 am

    Regarding the Rachel’s question, yes, I think it’s entirely possible to blog and write novels and do both well, particularly if you have the luxury of being a full-time writer. For someone trying to do that while working a 9-5 and balancing everything else in life, it’s tougher, though not impossible.

    And it’s not hard for me to believe that the answer, for you, is ‘yes.’ We go through so many changes in life. What we want out of life is fluid, not set in stone, and you owe it to yourself and those around you to pursue that which satisfies you. Trying to pound away at a novel or short fiction (or anything) when you really don’t want to is not good for you. I recall soldiering on through a job I no longer wanted — I was miserable, and everyone knew it. You don’t want to go through life miserable.

    • Nina Badzin
      May 8, 2012 | 5:56 pm

      I’m responding to most comments only via email so as not to disrupt the excellent discussion here, but wanted to chime in right now since this particular issue has come out a lot today.

      I absolutely agree with this comment. It’s a really important point to remember that what else is happening in our lives plays a big role. I have no doubt that people can blog well and write fiction well at the same time. However, I’m willing to bet that they are full time writers or at the very least do not have a handful of little kids at home.

  13. Julia Munroe Martin
    May 8, 2012 | 9:25 am

    I’m so glad you’re doing the kind of writing that makes you happiest — and you’re so good at it! (And I LOVE the photo of your kids!). For me, I’m with Amy…. “Since I’m doing both (and have done both) I certainly hope it’s possible!!!” — I actually love writing both fiction and nonfiction (especially personal essays and blogging) so I know exactly what you mean. But for me, the blog writing has inspired even more fiction writing, but then I’m in a much different boat, with much more time on my hands (*sniffle*). Still, if I had to choose just one, it would be fiction right now — even though I’m not sure I’d continue forever without being published or self-published. No question that’s my end goal. And I agree with you that blogging is a bit like a drug, to get immediate feedback on what I’ve written is fabulous.

  14. Sarah
    May 8, 2012 | 9:27 am

    I love where you’re coming from. I can honestly say that bloggers are way more influential in my day-to-day life than most authors and other more “official” writers. Blogging allows people so much freedom to connect and be open and try new things. I love the feeling of getting to know someone through a blog that you just don’t often experience through other mediums. Many bloggers are mini celebrities in my world. I don’t think blogging has to be legit just as an effort to build a platform for a book. Blogging is already a powerful, amazing thing.

  15. Selena
    May 8, 2012 | 9:43 am

    You write with such grace and honesty without over-sharing… your blogging is important to me! I look forward to your posts.
    I’m not a writer. I started my own blogging journey as an outlet to let go of my frustrations and realised -from you- that it can be so much more.
    Not saying this as a suck up.. just sayin’ it like it is 😉
    p.s. Your kids are sweet :) I’m having trouble keeping up with only two… how do you do it?

  16. sharon bially
    May 8, 2012 | 9:59 am

    Lovely pix! And — oh — great post, too. Since starting to write fiction again, I feel like I’ve suddenly *lost* my blogging voice. The two seem that incompatible in my own brain. But I wish I could do both simultaneously, because I do miss the instant gratification and the act of connecting that blogging brines.

  17. Christi Craig (@Christi_Craig)
    May 8, 2012 | 10:09 am

    I love this post. Love this quote: …why on Earth would I fight what feels natural?

    It is hard to write a novel and blog at the same time. The more I turn to my fiction, short stories or that dadgum first draft, the less attentive I am to blogging. For me, I enjoy doing both, so I have to find a balance some how. I only post once a week. That helps. And I keep my focus on doing the next right thing: forge ahead with the first draft. Worry about time for revisions later.

    But the quote I mentioned above speaks to me in another way, too. With my current WIP, I keep struggling through the first draft, trying to force it into a particular mold that I imagine will make it “worthy” of…whatever. When I write what feels natural, I certainly enjoy the process much much more — in blogging or in fiction.

  18. Jackie Cangro
    May 8, 2012 | 10:12 am

    It takes a while to come to terms when we change the dream of what we thought we were meant to be, doesn’t it? Or when something in our lives sends us down a different path. I think the most telling part of your post was that you didn’t even want to click on the folder to open your WIP. A sure sign that it wasn’t exciting or fun anymore.

    Kudos to you for realizing that and not continuing to try to stick a square peg in a round hole!

  19. E MURRAY
    May 8, 2012 | 10:28 am

    Great post, Nina. For years, I’ve been trying to “figure out’ what kind of writing I want to do (while raising three little ones). I started blogging more as a desperate measure, thinking of blogging as not “real writing”, but at least it gave me to structure and the platform (albeit tiny) to sit down and do some writing. I don’t post as regularly as I would like because I’m constantly wrestling with my ambivalence about blogging in general, and try to refocus myself on “real” writing. I am very dismissive of my blog despite getting some really lovely, positive feedback about it. Your post is very timely for me as I’m starting to think that acceptance of where one is in their writing life at any time is what is called for. If writing a blog once a week while otherwise mired in the details of my family life gives me satisfaction and even a handful of readers that appreciate what I’ve written, then maybe that can be enough for now. I do think that blog writing is kind of its own genre and I agree that it’s especially good for developing your voice. I enjoy yours and admire the confidence and clarity in your writing voice. It IS satisfying having someone you didn’t even know reads your blog come up to you and say, “Ohmygod, I love your blog!” You have been a great model for me of someone who takes themselves seriously as a writer, whether it’s blogging or essay writing or fiction. Your posts are helping ease me out of some of my “issues” with blogging, the self-consciousness, that it’s not “real writing”, the balls (if you will) that it takes to put yourself out there, the “who do I think I am?” trap. So thanks for putting yourself out there.

    And now, I will end my lengthy comments on your blog and go post on my own blog!

  20. Natalia Sylvester (@NataliaSylv)
    May 8, 2012 | 10:29 am

    I’ve always loved how raw and honest you are, Nina, and this post is such a great example of that. The fact that you not only figured this out, but then let us get a glimpse of the entire process and the (for many writers) difficult realization…it’s refreshing and inspiring. I completely agree with Rachel that blogging is very “world aware” while getting to the place where we write fiction takes time. As you know, I’ve been struggling with that myself. I think both CAN work, but only if you truly enjoy both, and only if it truly feels worth it to you, because it sure isn’t easy, so if you’re going to put in the effort, we have to make sure there’s a point to it all. This is a great lesson is slowing down and reevaluating why we do the things we do every once in a while. If we do it just because it’s something we think we should be doing–blogging to build a platform, writing fiction to get validation–then those are all the wrong reasons. Above all, it needs to be fulfilling, in the same way that blogging is for you.

    • Nina Badzin
      May 8, 2012 | 9:50 pm

      Interrupting to say that I love this summary: “This is a great lesson is slowing down and reevaluating why we do the things we do every once in a while. If we do it just because it’s something we think we should be doing–blogging to build a platform, writing fiction to get validation–then those are all the wrong reasons.”

      I think as much as I’ve been feeling like fiction is not the right thing, many fiction writers out there are blogging under duress.

      • Natalia Sylvester (@NataliaSylv)
        May 8, 2012 | 10:09 pm

        Agreed. I feel like I can definitely tell when a fiction writer blogs but their heart’s not completely in it. It seems to me, like anything in life, if you’re going to do it half-heartedly, or do it wrong, then you’re just wasting your time.

        • Lisa Ahn (@Lisa_Ahn)
          May 10, 2012 | 3:35 pm

          I love this point — with so much tugging on our time, if it’s not what you love, then it’s not worth it.

  21. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer)
    May 8, 2012 | 10:33 am

    I’ve actually blogged before about how wanting to be published isn’t shallow or unhealthy like so many people seem to imply. People say they write for themselves, which in a way I understand (like we write because it makes us feel good, helps us sort things out, etc.), but I think writing inherently implies reading. And wanting your work to reach the widest possible audience is just a natural fulfillment of the whole purpose of writing. So I totally agree with you that publication makes sense and is a worthy goal.

    And I really admire your honesty here. I don’t feel the same way – I get more excited about fiction than blogs and essays, for the most part – but I do know the feeling you’re talking about. I think it’s really brave of you to acknowledge a possibly scary change in emotions, and very smart to actually listen to that feeling. You do have a talent for nonfiction, and I think embracing that is just another way of being true to yourself. Fiction will always be there if you feel that calling again.

    So good for you, Nina. And thanks for sharing your thought/decision process with us; I really enjoyed reading this post.

  22. crichardwriter
    May 8, 2012 | 10:37 am


  23. annerallen
    May 8, 2012 | 10:39 am

    This is so honest–and brilliant. I’ve never heard anybody else say this, but yes, blogging is a talent unto itself and it has rewards of its own. Writing fiction doesn’t have a “higher value” than writing nonfiction. In fact nonfic books tend to make more money.

    In any case, the whole concept of “book” is going away. We read on our phones and people tend to skim rather than “lose themselves” in reading these days.

    You write very well for the new paradigm, so why should you do something else? Your posts on book groups are some of the ones that have stuck with me (as well as your posts on social media.) I could see you becoming an important reviewer, if you chose, or the center of an online reading community.

    Or you may take blogging in a direction none of us has even thought about. Enjoy the journey!

  24. crichardwriter
    May 8, 2012 | 10:48 am

    Okay, sorry my comment function was acting up – I have more to say than just “yes”. Thank you for sharing your story about your choice to focus on your nonfiction writing. You do a great job with nonfiction writing – I always enjoy your insights and humor (how can you say you are not funny :). It is difficult to declare what we most want to do sometimes because we receive so much advice on what we “need’ to do or “should” do. I like to think of my energy like it is currency – I only devote my energy to those things that light me up and have the most emotional payoff for me. You cannot do all things and do them well, so we must choose where to devote our time and energy. I am currently doing blogging and novel writing, and both of them have equal importance for me (I am doing them on top of having a full time job as well). I am able to compartmentalize what I do each day – in the mornings, I focus on novel writing when it is quiet and I have time to myself and then I work on my blogging posts a little bit all week long so that it says what I want it to say when I actually post it (I only post once a week). I actually enjoy switching between my nonfiction and fiction writing pieces; it satisfies both parts of my brain. I also find that the work I do on one project often leads to insights on my other project, so I actually find it quite helpful to do both. We each need to do what works best for us.

  25. Yuvi
    May 8, 2012 | 10:54 am

    Nina! This is such a fabulous thing to share. Thank you! Last year, the rush of getting feedback for my online videos really affected my motivation for submitting short stories to literary magazines, where I wasn’t sure I had any regular readers (other than people who were looking to get published in that very same magazine)… For a while, I felt so guilty for this shift (especially with a novel soon to be published!). I guess I still don’t feel totally at ease with where I stand on all this stuff but I’m starting to see things differently: they’re all just different forms of storytelling with different ways of getting the stories out to your audience… As the landscape shifts, we need to experiment with more creative ways to get our stories out to people… Anyway, your processing here has really helped me look at myself more honestly…

    Beautifully done.

  26. Diane Sherlock
    May 8, 2012 | 10:55 am

    Ha, as some have said above, I do hope it’s possible since I write novels and blog. My blog is mostly on the craft of writing and it indirectly led to getting a deal for a non-fiction book aimed at high school kids (Write To Be Heard [Lighthouse]). Would have never imagined. I disagree that “the concept of book is going away.” The delivery system may be changing and new forms may arise, but we are wired for story. Our attention span may be short now, but that doesn’t mean it’s permanent. Few things are.

  27. julie gardner
    May 8, 2012 | 11:13 am

    As you know, I currently blog and am an aspiring novelist; however, I’ll admit that blogging interferes with my fiction productivity.

    When I first decided to throw my hat into the author ring, I wrote two books in two years. (For those of us who are math challenged, that’s an average of a book a year. Hooray!)

    20 months ago I started blogging (on the advice of an agent who said I needed more on my resume than “I used to be a teacher”). Since then, I have written only 200 pages of new fiction.

    Granted, I have been in revisions on my first novel which is time-consuming. But it’s the blogging that’s slowed me down. I do love my blog, but I sometimes wonder if I’m diverting attention away from my REAL dream which is to be a published novelist (because I too believe that saying you shouldn’t care if others read what you’ve written is Utopian bullshit).

    I’m not ready to give up the dream of writing fiction but I’m also not willing to give up the blog. So. I have to adjust my pacing and my expectations.

    Just another compromise in this life…

  28. liz
    May 8, 2012 | 11:34 am

    Nina, I thought this post was fascinating. I both blog and write, but I’ve limited my blog posts to once a week. For me, switching back between the two mediums — fiction and blogging — is helpful. When I’m stuck on my novel, I can go work on my next blog post, and vice-versa. But I view my blog more as a kind of online diary or mental exercise, a push to get some writing done even on the bad days. And when my two children were younger, I would never have attempted to do both — I can only expend so much mental energy in a day, and I had to prioritize. Making the switch in your head from aspiring novelist to essayist must be hard, but also very freeing.
    (Beautiful pic, btw.)

  29. Angela Johnson
    May 8, 2012 | 11:46 am

    “Know Thyself!” You’re not only an essayist, blogger extraordinaire, you’re a philosopher with mighty wisdom. It takes enormous amounts of GUTS to say what you truly feel. I honor that. To look inward. To ask hard questions. To give honest answers. To be logical, rational and willing to make choices that mean doing certain things well instead of everything halfway…
    I’ve been told, blog, blog. But to do it well, to do it Nina Badzin well, takes energy, endurance, commitment and sacrifice. We can’t always have it all, do it all. Sometimes we must choose or the quality of our work “chooses” for us. (There is after all, those sweet little urchins to love on too)
    Just yesterday, I moped over not getting a staff writer position that I’m not sure I even really wanted! Therein lies the key. What do we want? Right now? (Cause things change) I’ve written a novel that I believe is pretty good (Cause we all think that, right?). Why would I halt that momentum, shift gears and go in another direction? I’m embarrassed to answer honestly. But I’m sure writers everywhere already know.
    But when it gets down to brass tacks, when I’m in the dumper wondering what the heck am I even doing?? I revert to my life goal (not my writing goal) To Live a Useful Life. Cause this is it. Right now. Today. And my friend, Nina Badzin, you’re living a most useful life and I’m SO grateful for your blog!

    • Nina Badzin
      May 9, 2012 | 10:05 am

      Angela, first thank you for such an unbelievably kind comment about my blog. I love what you said about not wanting to do everything halfway. That’s EXACTLY how I’ve been feeling.

      I’m answering most comments in personal emails this time instead of on the blog, but I wanted to jump in here to mention that most people do NOT feel the novel they’ve written is good. I wrote two and knew they weren’t good. One made some rounds and even second rounds with agents, but I still felt no sense of surprise when it didn’t go all the way. It wasn’t good enough and I knew it. If you feel that this novel has potential, then it probably does. You’re a serious reader–you know what needs to be there. Doesn’t mean you won’t go through tons of revisions, but if your gut says something’s there, I’ll bet this one is worth pushing forward.

      I’m glad you didn’t get the staff position! It would have taken away from what you really want to be doing.

  30. Jenny from the Blog
    May 8, 2012 | 12:04 pm

    Hi Nina! Awesome post! I am new to blogging and wandered into it after thinking that I would like to write a book some day, too. I, too, have recently let that goal dim a little and have been really enjoying the non-fiction part of blogging, plus the more instant feedback. I discovered your work recently and I’m really enjoying it! Thank you!

  31. beverlydiehl
    May 8, 2012 | 12:13 pm

    There’s a wonderful line in a Celeste deBlasis book, where the child is having a meltdown because she wants to sit in the garden and read, AND go to the barn to play with the kittens, AND stay in the kitchen and bake with her grandmother. The grandmother tells her, “You can do ANYthing, but you cannot do EVERYthing.”

    I think of that line often. I do believe it is possible to blog AND work on a novel – I am doing so, and holding down a day job, too. BUT, I do not have four children, or even one child at home right now. I’m not married, nor do I currently have a boyfriend (by choice). I almost never watch TV or see a movie. Sometimes I miss those things, but mostly, I am happy with my current choices.

    When I had a young child, even a teenager, my writing sat on the back burner, stirred occasionally. That was the right choice for me, then; I feel I am making the right choice for me, now. I think the key is whatever we choose to do, choose it mindfully, and be present and ENJOY what we are doing, without comparing ourselves to others or fretting about what others have or are doing or accomplishing. I am the only one who is living my life; I have to make choices that work for ME.

  32. Sarah McCraw Crow
    May 8, 2012 | 12:16 pm

    Good, thoughtful post, Nina. I really enjoy your blogging/essay voice, and think you’re wise to go with it. I noticed that some of those writers you (me too) admire most (Steve Almond, Anne Lamott, Nora Ephron, Joan Didion, Dave Barry) have gone back and forth between fiction and nonfiction. So don’t shut any doors — you’re doing what’s right for right now, and that’s great.

  33. […] post today by Nina Badzin gave me pause.  She wrote about admitting to herself that she is not (at the moment), an aspiring […]

  34. Lindsey Mead (@lemead)
    May 8, 2012 | 12:53 pm

    Nina, I love this. I recently walked away from some goals I had for myself as a “writer,” and part of that was a realization that what I truly love is blogging. It has been both a relief and full of sorrow to let go of what I thought I wanted. Thanks for sharing your own journey here. xox

  35. travelingking1
    May 8, 2012 | 1:09 pm

    Thanks for the shout out (it, is this like thanking someone for a retweet????). I enjoyed your introspection and self discovery. Re: “I can only be me”—what a gift to accept and honor who we are!
    “Great photo of my Great nieces and Great nephews” says Great Aunt, Barbara.
    Thank you for blogging! I love the thoughtful smile that I get when I read your posts.

  36. katmagendie
    May 8, 2012 | 1:56 pm

    First – good for you for being brave and telling it as you see it/feel it/want it!

    As to the question – when I decided to have fun with my blog, that’s when it became enjoyable — in other words, I don’t use it to “market” or “promo” – not that I ever did, but that was in the back of my mind because that’s what I was told I ‘should’ be doing and that “should” just kept bugging me and making me nuts so that I wasn’t enjoying my blogging. I slapped that out my pea-head and began writing what gives me joy, what I’m passionate about, and what interests me, and what develops, I hope, Community. I guess the same goes for my fiction in an analogy kind of way.

    I started out as an essayist – I loved The Essay, and still do. My blog allows me to explore that part of me from time-to-time.

    Though I am one of those writers who would probably write “anyway” – there’s no way I’d say “I don’t care if it is read” – Of course I want it read! I want my novels read and enjoyed again and again! And it’s nice to make a little teeny living from it as well (would I like a Big Arse Living – okay I admit yes *laugh* but hearing from readers is danged cool on its own). Otherwise, if I’m not “read” – well, what’s the point other than to clear out my head!

  37. Jess Riley
    May 8, 2012 | 2:03 pm

    Such a thoughtful post! I was nodding along with so much here–you really nailed what many of us are feeling/thinking. I’ve juggled blogging / fiction writing for the last seven years (god, has it been that long??) and there are definitely highs and lows for each medium, as you’ve eloquently stated. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  38. ramblingsfromtheleft
    May 8, 2012 | 2:21 pm

    Nina and Rachel: I don’t think you need to equate the blog and writing a novel or short stories. One is expository or introspective and one is internalization and imagination. There is no need to chose between them.

    Nina: Many journalists do not write fiction EVER. There is not always a progression that leads from one to the other. Your bent, your perception of the world at large expresses itself in expository exploration of your world, your generation, your culture. It is not difficult to see these are the driving forces behind your work. Huffington is another step in the right direction. Novel writing is not for everyone. We need to follow our hearts and minds and above all … do good work.

    Rachel: Who ever told you that you can’t write a blog and a novel at the same time? Or that if you invest time in a blog or the world of the blog, it will hamper your progress or learning of fiction writing? Many successful writers also blog, do monthly newsletters, write about the crafts for major writer’s magazines. The real issue is that you make a decision to do the best work you can. Blogs do not hamper the work unless you let them. (Just don’t go posting any of your fiction :):)

    • Erin@lovesomeblog
      May 8, 2012 | 10:31 pm

      Yes. I especially like your line about doing good work, whatever medium you choose. We all just want to find a way to do our very best work, and I think it’s helpful to let go of preconceived notions about what forms that can take.

  39. girlparker
    May 8, 2012 | 2:38 pm

    I’ve never understood why some make the goal of being published seem dirty. What’s wrong with wanting to get paid for a job you love? Isn’t that why people go to college and/or learn a trade? Would someone lay tile just because they loved the patterns? Possibly, but more likely they’d start a company and frame that first check. I applaud your honesty and found myself cheering. My blog is spotty at best these days simply because my blog voice isn’t talking right now, but my fiction voice is. I appreciate the camaraderie. “Why on earth fight what feels natural?” Amen.

  40. Stacy S. Jensen
    May 8, 2012 | 4:00 pm

    Another great post Nina. Glad to see you aren’t giving up blogging/essays, as I enjoy them (totally selfish comment). I wish you the best in all of your endeavors — writing and not writing. Those kiddos are adorable.

  41. Darshana
    May 8, 2012 | 4:30 pm

    That was a wonderful essay, thank you for sharing your experience. Write now I am pursing children’s writing thinking this is what I want, but sometimes I think I like critiquing and reading books more than I like writing my own stories. Your essay has given me a sense of comfort that it is okay to change your mind should I reach that point where I need to decide. Thank You.

  42. gojulesgo
    May 8, 2012 | 5:06 pm

    I’m SO glad you wrote about this, and, um, YES, I can relate!! While I come from a slightly different angle (my writing goals have long been set on penning a Bill Bryson-David Sedaris-Augusten Burroughs-esque memoir…I’m hesitant to admit I majored in non-fiction in college, because I did so little with writing for so long), I too struggle with the balance between blogging and writing anything else. I feel like I devote so many hours a week to blogging (and reading blogs) that it must be taking away from ‘real’ writing. I’m only now starting to appreciate blogging as being ‘up there’ with these supposedly lofty writing goals. I think blogging has given so much more than it’s taken away. To your point, the instant gratification is powerful. A year ago, NO ONE was reading my writing. I wasn’t talking to other writers. And now I have so many opportunities to grow and learn as a writer.

    I think you have a very unique, powerful non-fiction voice. I know I’m new(ish) to your blog (and thanks to Renee Schuls-Jacobson for leading me here from your guest post for her!), but I’ve been coming back because of how thoughtful, well-written and relatable your posts are. There are VERY few non-humor blogs that I follow, and this is one of them! (Not to say you’re not funny! :)) So I wouldn’t worry too much about forsaking fiction!

  43. Running from Hell with El
    May 8, 2012 | 5:30 pm

    I think this is a great post, Nina. I think I come out on the opposite side of the argument, but I really enjoyed following your thought process and seeing how you came to your decision (for now, at least) to focus on the blogging and essay-writing. I’ve only been following your blog for a few weeks (met you through Renee) but I already appreciate (and look forward to reading) what you have to say. And yes, your work is thoughtful. I wish more writers put as much time and thought into their blog posts as you do.

  44. Jarm Del Boccio
    May 8, 2012 | 7:51 pm

    Your post made me understand why I am pursuing my blogging…thanks for that, Nina! I, too, love non-fiction, and tend to read and write it!


  45. Jess Witkins
    May 8, 2012 | 9:09 pm

    Poignant as ever, Nina. What an amazing journey you’ve had, and an eloquent one too. I’m in awe of your professionalism and down to earth qualities. You are definitely a fave blog of mine to read and this post felt really personal and also enlightening. You’ve given validation to the struggle many of us face in balancing blogging time, writing time, and social media. I know I put myself down because I always feel I’m not doing enough or moving fast enough, but each of us does our thing in our own time. You sound like you’ve found some internal writing peace. I hope I eventually get there.

  46. Lara Schiffbauer
    May 8, 2012 | 10:16 pm

    To me, the most important thing is to be true to where you are and what is important to you. Why waste time doing something just because you think you should.

    I totally agree with you about writing for the joy of writing being bullshit. I write because I want people to read what I write, and I try to write well because I want them to enjoy it. I find the immediate gratification of blogging pretty addictive, too. I just don’t have your kind of success with it! You are an excellent essayist, and it shows in your success, I think.

    So, can blogging be enough? Depends… But I’m happy you’ve found your answer!

  47. Kristan
    May 8, 2012 | 10:46 pm

    Just want to add my kudos for being so honest and sharing your self-discovery for the benefit of the rest of us. I’m here via Natalia Sylvester, who tweeted about this post, and I agree with her (as did you) that we all need to reevaluate our passions and our goals from time to time, to make sure we’re staying true to them. I’m glad this conversation with Rachel did that for you, and I have no doubt your post will now spur many others to look inward as well. :)

    I agree that blogging and writing a book don’t actually go hand in hand, but I really enjoy both. I’m the type who craves positive reinforcement and quick feedback, so blogging satisfies me in a way that allows me to endure the long slog of writing my novel. It’s a strange balance, even though each borrows time and energy away from the other.

    Anyway, it’s not easy to do both, and maybe it means my progress in each will be slower… but at this point in time, anyway, I’m sticking with them. I’ll be sure to reevaluate occasionally though. 😉

  48. skippingstones
    May 8, 2012 | 11:48 pm

    (I followed Renee’s tweet over.) When I began blogging, I wrote a lot of essays, primarily because I didn’t really know what to write about. I always wanted to write, but in my mind a “real” writer produced fiction. Somehow I managed to ignore an entire population of non-fiction writers, journalists, speech writers, bloggers, etc. But blogging helped me find my voice, and it speaks non-fiction. After a while, I started considering myself a writer.

    But something happened along the way. Those essays gave way to…I don’t know. I think it’s just life, really. Slowly, my blog became more about me and mine, with some fun things thrown in that I just enjoyed posting. After a while, I stopped considering myself a writer.

    But why? Is it not real writing just because I’m talking about personal growth as opposed to contradicting Tolstoy’s opinions about art? Is it not real writing because it comes easier to me than an essay on the nature of infinity? I am writing, people are reading it, so why can I not call myself a writer?

    I think it’s that thing I have in my head – that old idea of what a writer is or should be. “Is blogging enough?” meant something a little different to me, and I know I’m slightly off topic. But as I was reading your post, something clicked: I write a blog. Writing is writing, no matter what you write about. Now I’ve just got to convince myself to believe it :)

  49. Vikki (The View Outside)
    May 9, 2012 | 3:28 am

    Wow, what an interesting post, and comments!!!!! :)

    I’m trying to write a blog and a novel at the moment and I’m finding that the blogging is taking over…..I’m not really sure what to do to be honest lol


  50. Frume Sarah
    May 9, 2012 | 9:57 am

    Having not read your fiction, I cannot make any comments about your talent in that genre. What I do feel qualified to say is that you have such a gift in the NF genre. Your voice is appealing and your messages are spot-on. Insightful and emotional without being over-the-top.

    Embrace who you have grown to be rather than mourn who you thought you were.

  51. erikarobuck
    May 9, 2012 | 10:08 am

    Nina–You are a marvel. I could feel your awakening in the email excerpts and in this essay. You clearly have a gift for blogging–(my goodness, look at these comments!!)–and that might just be enough. By “enough,” by the way, I mean something that makes a tremendous impact and inspires people. What you do here is a big deal, and you are blessed to recognize that and embrace it.

    You’ve certainly empowered me today. Thank you.

  52. Melanie
    May 9, 2012 | 1:38 pm

    First, love love love that you were able to get such a fantastic picture. Second, great post – I admire the honesty, which is one of the reasons I love being your friend anyway. And lastly, have enjoyed reading ALL of your work (including the short stories you’ve shared).

  53. TheJackB (@TheJackB)
    May 10, 2012 | 11:33 am

    Find your passion and follow it. You are allowed to change your mind. If blogging fuels your fire there is no reason not to follow it wherever it takes you.

  54. admin
    May 10, 2012 | 3:31 pm

    Nina, I always get so much out of your blog posts. So much. I love your honesty, your humor and your courage — you already combine these three traits beautifully. What I appreciate the most here is the idea that we can continually redefine ourselves as writers, based on what works best for us now. Right now, at this point in my life — still recovering from this blasted head injury — I’m a writer in short bursts, when I can. That would have horrified me six months ago, with the goals that I had set for myself. Who knows where I’ll be six months from now? Probably just as scattered! Still working out the details and the definitions . . .

  55. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes
    May 10, 2012 | 9:23 pm

    What a fantastic post Nina…as always, like was pointed out. Your posts are very polished and worth a start-to-finish read which is not always the case in the blog world. I’m glad you’ve found what is fulfilling and functional for you. Your blog and articles have really taken off lately and clearly you have an impressive career going without aspiring to be something that maybe isn’t for you anyway…or at least not right now :)

  56. Patrick Ross
    May 11, 2012 | 5:46 am

    A great writer is someone capable of self-reflection. You’ve demonstrated that here.

    This post resonates with me, because it was only about three years ago or so that I wondered why my professional non-fiction writing came so easily and my fiction was tougher, despite dabbling with it for years. It dawned on me–late in life in my opinion–that I could write creatively and write non-fiction, and then realized–duh!–that is called “creative non-fiction.” So I’m halfway through an MFA program in CNF and loving every minute of it. My muse is happy, so I’m happy.

    Take this path wherever it leads, Nina.

    • Nina Badzin
      May 14, 2012 | 8:51 am

      Actually, Patrick, you’ve come to mind lately as I’ve been thinking about what else could be out there for me. I know you’re tackling creative non fiction and I’m looking to you for guidance!

      • Patrick Ross
        May 14, 2012 | 8:33 pm

        Oh my, the pressure is on! Seriously, though, happy to help you explore a space I’ve only recently begun exploring myself. It is quite fascinating. Your blog demonstrates you’re a natural for the genre.

  57. katharineowens
    May 11, 2012 | 12:51 pm

    Love this, Nina– I think it’s great to admit (aloud, maybe just to close friends– whatever works) what our intentions are and why. You have such a GIFT for essays– if that’s what you enjoy, then all the better.

  58. Sarah Baughman
    May 11, 2012 | 3:43 pm

    Great post. Thanks for your honesty. I’m really struggling with this issue right now– I find it very hard to focus on developing my literary essays while also trying to maintain a blog and all that comes with it. As I try to juggle both, both probably suffer. The blog at this point is not my priority, but I still wish I could get the hang of a schedule with it. Right now I feel like I’m drowning in unread blogs, unwritten comments, unanswered Tweets…ack!

    • Nina Badzin
      May 14, 2012 | 9:02 am

      There’s no easy answer. Sometimes you just have to work on what “calls” at the time. (That is when there’s no real deadline, of course.) Real deadlines help create priorities. That’s for sure!

  59. Hallie Sawyer (@Hallie_Sawyer)
    May 11, 2012 | 11:16 pm

    I, too, get a lot of enjoyment out of blogging and totally agree that it is like a drug. It is the quick confidence fix I need whereas writing fiction is a very long sales process. Freelancing, blogging, and writing fiction is a very heavy load to carry and I find myself understanding completely where you are coming from.

    I am continuing my fiction but at a very slow pace. I am proud of you for being honest with yourself and being content at what makes you really happy. You are a wonderful writer and I will be a follower of yours in whatever writing you pursue.


  60. summitsucess
    May 14, 2012 | 2:41 am

    Loved you post Nina , I am not sure about the blogging, guess I need to find my voice like you and just write , what I am inspired , and be happy no matter what .You have a beautiful family

  61. jolinapetersheim
    May 14, 2012 | 1:05 pm

    I absolutely love reading your posts, Nina, regardless of their subject, so I sure do not want you to give non-fiction up! Follow this path wherever it leads and fulfills you the most. Adorable picture of your children, by the way!

  62. […] this week. I’ve enjoyed getting to know some new bloggers after last week’s post about my writing identity crisis reached new […]

  63. Everyday Commotion
    May 15, 2012 | 10:51 pm

    I totally agree! I think ALL artists (okay, most) want their work to be seen or read. I don’t know anyone who writes just for themselves, with no hope of an audience, ever. Unless maybe it’s a private journal. The very definition of art, to me, whether through visual means or the written word, is something you create and then put out into the world to be interpreted and enjoyed by others. Writing fiction is lonely, and the reactions and attention much less immediate than if you share a photograph or a blog post. My blog only gets about six readers right now (ha!) but it’s still more views, and views more often, than my fiction used to command.

  64. Anne Mackin
    May 16, 2012 | 7:02 am

    This is very meaningful to me, Nina. I’m wrestling with the same issues. I’ve written the first installment of a blog with which to refurbish my website (probably not coming for a couple more weeks if ever…) and, at the same time, have sworn to myself to work more on my current writing project. Blogging seems like a more social, and therefore more fun, form of writing. Does one want to remain in the company of the demons of more serious writing? For the moment, at least, I’ve decided to have more fun with my memoir by turning it into fiction. Now I can play more with it. Best wishes to you from another survivor of writing (and motherhood).

    • Nina Badzin
      May 16, 2012 | 7:58 am

      That’s a great of way saying it, Anne. “Does one want to remain in the company of the demons of more serious writing?” I think there may be a point when I want to do that again, but for now I don’t. I look forward to seeing the revamped blog!

  65. V.V. Denman
    May 25, 2012 | 2:31 am

    Wow. You’re making me think about things. What is it I really really want to do with my writing? Thanks for the post, and good luck in your writing journey!

  66. Claude Nougat
    June 5, 2012 | 2:41 am

    Nina, what a stimulating post! But I wonder…Are you (through your blogging) really turning into a non-fiction writer, albeit a brilliant essayist and basta? Couldn’t it be just a phase? Now you are enjoying your blog and connecting with people out there. Fiction writing is a lonely occupation: you don’t really connect as you write and the only connection you have is with beta readers (if you’re lucky to have them – I don’t and I find myself struggling with loneliness and wondering whether my fiction is going in the “right” direction…)

    Blogging is much more fun: you communicate with others. You push your ideas out, simple and clear, without the use of metaphors the way one does in writing fiction (at least I do – I like fiction to have a “message” – I guess you could say that as a reader I’m not much into straight genre lit)

    But after a while, you might be drawn back to the artistic allure of fiction writing – particularly as you have the talent for it. So I think you’ll find that you’re not an “aspiring novelist” for the time being, but don’t push it off: it could come back! And make you happy! I’m saying this because it’s been my experience: I have had periods in my life that I’ve been into non fiction (I’m an economist – Columbia U. grad) and other times when I’ve written novels and short stories. Both are possible, if not together in time. Which, incidentally, means that if you’re seriously into fiction writing, you can’t spend that much time on blogging (the non-fiction intrudes in the fiction work!!)

    Let me know what you think!

    • Nina Badzin
      June 6, 2012 | 9:44 pm

      I agree with ALL of this, and I also want to say how much I appreciate your thoughtful response. I do think I’ll go back to fiction and probably sooner than later. (As in, maybe in a year or two.) I really do agree that it’s hard to do both well. Maybe for me right now the issue is having four kids 7 and under . . . but I just can’t focus on the fictional world these days. And I got tired of feeling bad about it. I also got tired of answering questions about my nonexistent book!

      Do you feel any pressure as a fiction writer to build up your “platform” and come out of that quiet world?

  67. Roni Loren
    June 6, 2012 | 8:52 pm

    Love this post. I totally understand where you’re coming from (but from the flip side.) When I was preparing for my debut novel to come out, I was still maintaining two blog and running myself ragged. I love blogging, still do. But I came to the point where I had to ask myself the question: Do I want to be a blogger who writes or a writer who blogs?

    My priorities fell on the the writing side because that is my true passion. I can’t not write fiction. (And yes, I want people to read it, lol. I don’t believe that whole I-don’t-care-if-anyone-reads-this spiel either.) So I let go of one of the blogs and streamlined things. It’s been a good decision all around. I think it’s great that you found the one that makes you happiest. :)

    • Nina Badzin
      June 6, 2012 | 10:14 pm

      “Do I want to be a blogger who writes or a writer who blogs?”—-YUP. I struggle with that constantly.

  68. Neurotic Workaholic
    June 8, 2012 | 12:36 pm

    I love Nora Ephron’s writing too; I have several of her nonfiction books. But I also recently bought the novel she wrote many years ago, Heartburn, and I really liked it; I wish she’d written more novels. But I think it’s perfectly fine to take a break from writing fiction, because you should write what you want to write. If you’re writing something that you don’t want to write, then where’s the fun in that?

    • Nina Badzin
      June 8, 2012 | 4:32 pm

      Love that last thought. It’s exactly how I’ve been feeling.

  69. […] while perusing some awesome blogs this morning, I ran across this awesome post by Nina Badzin, I’m not an Aspiring Novelist, at Least for Now. In this post, Nina explains how she came to the realization that she enjoyed blogging more than […]

  70. atothewr
    June 8, 2012 | 6:36 pm

    Nice to see others feeling the same way as me.

    Yes, you can blog and write at the same time and do both of them very well. It probably helps that I’m out of work and have the time to do it, when I get back to work and my first born arrives we will see. For now I think you can have quality in both – blogs and novels.

    • Nina Badzin
      June 10, 2012 | 3:28 pm

      I think you’re right, but as you say–as long as you have the time to really do both well. The baby will add a new complication, but you STILL might be able to do it. Many people do!

      • atothewr
        June 10, 2012 | 6:50 pm

        Its all about finding that pocket of time and when you find that pocket you got to drive yourself to use it. Time always shrinks – first marriage then children – but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It is all about staying hungry. If you want it you will still go after it.

  71. Natalie Hartford
    June 13, 2012 | 1:04 pm

    Your post truly spoke right to my heart. I’ve been struggling with the same thoughts. Fiction writing, what I’ve always dreamed of doing, just hasn’t come to me. And I’ve felt torn and almost like a fraud in my writing community because I don’t really have a WIP. I take courses. I analyse myself. Am I just scared? Is it fear? What’s holding me back? I’ve beat myself up because I know I am different from my close knit writing friends who are writers who blog. I seem to a blogger who writes. The distinction has not been lost on me and I’ve felt guilty and somewhat inadequate
    Reading your post helped me to realize IT’S OK to feel that way. Maybe I will write a fiction book, maybe I won’t. Either way, as a blogger I am still a WRITER. And that’s what I need to celebrate and focus on. And trust that rest will work itself out as I meander along and follow my heart, my passion, and what brings me joy. And maybe it’s time to consider non-fiction ideas. Either way, reading your post was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders, pressure released and a HUGE SIGH of relief…
    I am not alone…thank GOD!
    Here’s to continuing to explore and enjoy the journey!!

    • Nina Badzin
      June 13, 2012 | 10:19 pm


      Thank you so much for this note. I’m so glad you found the post and that it helped you. What I’ve found is that some days I still find myself thinking about fiction, but the thoughts don’t last for long. One day when they do again, I figure I’ll go back in that direction. For now it’s been such a relief to let my interests pull me along rather than forcing myself to honor my interests of days past. If that makes sense . . .

      Stay in touch! We’re connected on Twitter now so that’s great.

      Nina :)

      • Natalie Hartford
        June 14, 2012 | 9:31 am

        “For now it’s been such a relief to let my interests pull me along rather than forcing myself to honor my interests of days past. If that makes sense…”
        It does…totally!!! :-)

  72. […] of the quarter-finished novel manuscripts she’s read for me, but as my regular readers know I’m hanging out in the non-fiction section these days. No matter what, Anne is constantly humoring my ever-changing writing goals and helping me think […]

  73. […] while it was certainly an exciting few days for my experiment in non-fiction over fiction, it wasn’t a great week for Twitter and Facebook etiquette. I felt enormously guilty and […]

  74. […] while it was certainly an exciting few days for my experiment in non-fiction over fiction, it wasn’t a great week for Twitter and Facebook etiquette. I felt enormously guilty and […]

  75. Normandie Fischer
    October 3, 2012 | 8:51 am

    Nina, I’m so glad I followed links from WU to here and read your thoughts on writing and finding the voice through which you best communicate.

    Blessings as you continue–and thank you for helping me understand that Twitter and I will have to learn how best to coexist before I return to its fray.

    • Nina (@NinaBadzin)
      October 3, 2012 | 8:55 am

      Hello there! Thank you so much for taking the time to see what I have going on here.

      As for Twitter, I’ll be writing a monthly column for Writer Unboxed about Twitter so of course I have many thoughts about it. I meant what I said in the FB forum . . . Twitter is really not for everyone. If you’re experiencing some good engagement with readers on Facebook, then for now that’s probably enough. I would for sure turn off the WordPress broadcasts. Think of Twitter like a phone conversation or a dinner party rather than a bulletin board. You would never walk into a party and just talk about yourself, right? The expectation is the same on Twitter. Actually, I think I just wrote my first paragraph for this months’ column. Thank you! 😉

      • Normandie Fischer
        October 3, 2012 | 9:04 am

        I turned it off immediately after your note, Nina. I don’t post about my work as much as I use the blog to think out loud (or at least in public) about writing and sailing–with the occasional and very rare book review when I’ve found something that made me sit up and take note.

        I’ll look forward to your posts on WU, though I’ve barely time to read other folks’ blogs and answer queries without neglecting my day job (writing and editing). I feel very blessed by it all.
        Normandie Fischer recently posted..And We Have A Winner!My Profile

  76. […] essays.  Nina Badzin, who maintains a blog, writes fiction, and publishes personal essays online, wrote last spring about choosing to focus on blogging instead of writing a novel. You really don’t have to do it all. In fact, it’s probably better for you–and […]

  77. Tweeting vs. Writing « Anne Mackin
    December 10, 2012 | 4:07 pm

    […] discussed by short story writer and blogger, Nina Badzin, fiction writing and social media can be particularly antithetical. One is a very internal process; the other is external and social. Every day is a […]

  78. The Art (or Business?) of Blogging
    December 29, 2012 | 9:27 am

    […] I am jealous. And so excited for her. But I appreciate Nina’s honesty when she talks about laying down her dream of being a fiction writer – for now, at least. That’s where I diverge. I still want to publish a book. Many […]

  79. Allie
    January 6, 2013 | 7:18 am

    Great post! I LOVED the comparison of published and non-published writers to pregnancy – genius! Based on all the comments, you are not alone. I flip-flop between fiction and nonfiction, as well. Love fiction and dream of that novel (have written a very bad one, as well), but my voice seems to shine more when writing nonfiction, at least according to friends and family.

    • Nina (@NinaBadzin)
      January 6, 2013 | 7:22 am

      Allie, Do you have a blog? I’d love to find it if you do!

      • Allie
        January 6, 2013 | 11:36 am

        I’m JUST starting it:). I will get back with you once I get my sea legs and I’m up & running. Nervous. I just got a “column” in our local magazine…through pure nepotism:)! They have urged me to have a blog for my bio.

        • Nina (@NinaBadzin)
          January 7, 2013 | 12:19 pm

          Good luck and make sure to come back and let me know.

  80. […] of my most popular posts in 2012 was titled “I’m Not an Aspiring Novelist.” To recap, a regular reader of this blog asked my advice about keeping up an engaging site while […]

  81. […] of the quarter-finished novel manuscripts she’s read for me, but as my regular readers know I’m hanging out in the non-fiction section these days. No matter what, Anne is constantly humoring my ever-changing writing goals and helping me think […]

  82. Julie Luek
    August 22, 2013 | 6:22 pm

    I know you have a gazillion comments already here, and I’m just one more voice, but I can’t tell you how much this article resonates with me. I even wrote an article on WOW (Women on Writing, Issue 56) for their current edition titled, “Writer’s Identity Crisis” about this exact topic of realizing I don’t want to write fiction. I love nonfiction. I love writing it; I love reading it; I love when something I write evokes a reaction in someone, even if it’s disagreement.

    So you just spoke directly to my writer’s heart. Thank you.
    Julie Luek recently posted..Pig Tales and SnippetsMy Profile

    • Nina (@NinaBadzin)
      August 22, 2013 | 10:52 pm

      I am so happy you can relate! It does feel like everyone’s aim is to write a novel. Well, now I know someone else who’s with ME. Thank you so much for reading the post and taking the time to let me know that it spoke to you.

  83. […] a favorite around here. You could also read “The Worst Writing Teacher Ever,” ”I’m Not an Aspiring Novelist,” and “When I Was Pre-Law and Other Wrong Turns Towards the Right […]

  84. […] I’m Not an Aspiring Novelist […]

  85. […] the general style of blogging fit my voice more naturally than fiction. One of my favorite posts, “I’m Not an Aspiring Novelist,” discusses my realization that at some point I had stopped blogging as a platform to sell a novel […]

  86. Stefani
    November 28, 2013 | 8:42 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I stumbled upon it from someone else’s blog and I feel like I’ll come back to some of the thoughts you shared here in the future. I’m still not sure whether I’d want to be a novelist or not, but a lot of these words really resonate with me.
    Stefani recently posted..Thanksgiving and Alma Mater DaysMy Profile

  87. Ellen Hawley
    February 22, 2015 | 11:35 am

    I’m not sure how deep into a publishing career you have to be to be deep into a publishing career, but I’ve published three novels now (the most recent, The Divorce Diet, came out in January, she said with great subtlety and not a trace of self-promotion), and I can’t cut audience out of the equation either. And wouldn’t want to, really. Writing for yourself is fine if what you want is to think things through or simply spill them out, but that’s not why I’m writing. I want a conversation. Or, failing that, I want to talk to someone, even if I don’t hear back.

    Blogging, for me, doesn’t fill the same space as writing fiction, but I like the impact it’s had on me as a writer. I don’t have to go through an editor, and that leaves me freer, more willing to take risks. And I hear back from people. It really is a conversation.

    And it really is time consuming. That part hasn’t had a great impact on my fiction writing.

    Thanks for the post. Interesting topic.

    • Nina Badzin
      March 3, 2015 | 9:44 pm

      I love the conversation, too, but yes, it absolutely can take away from the fiction!

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