Not Exactly Writer’s Block

I’ve always been proud that I don’t get “writer’s block.” No fear of the blank page for me.

It’s not been a problem, I think, because since I actually began writing (as opposed to thinking about it), I’ve always had so much inside waiting to get out and on to the page. And if I get stuck at something in one story, I just go on to another. Never a dull moment.


But now, as I feel my attention turning away from short stories and to longer narrative forms, I’m hesitant. Afraid to dive into them.

As difficult as it is to write, edit and publish short stories, over the years it has become easier for me.

I trust that I have something to say, that I can write it well, and more likely than not, someone will publish the story, and people will read it.

I’ve not had the same luck with novels and screenplays. I have three completed novels and two completed screenplays.

My first novel was turned down by an agent ten years ago and has since been tucked away in a drawer. Not only because it was rejected but because it read like a first novel. I had something to say, I just didn’t write it well.

I’ve had my screenplays reviewed and judged on The Blacklist. You won’t be seeing them on the big screen any time soon.

When I began really writing in 1996 (twenty years ago!), I thought of myself solely as a novelist. I hadn’t even read a short story since college. But that has been my main form for twenty years, and where I’ve found success publishing.

What if I don’t find success in publishing a novel or selling a screenplay? Then am I “just” a short story writer? Is that a bad thing? You can see where this is going in my head – the merry-go-round of self-doubt, second guessing and “what’s the point.”

The result has been very little writing in the past few months.

I’m sending a few stories out and finishing up the last two I’ve started.

Then to get out of my head, put on my writing sweatshirt, and get going.

3 thoughts on “Not Exactly Writer’s Block

  1. When I interviewed Patricia C Wrede back in the day, I remember her commenting that authors always find that one story form comes easier than the others. It makes sense — a certain story structure comes naturally. Really, it’s not that you’re telling less interesting stories, it’s just that the way they’re told (in different form) is more work and learning than instinct! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with going forward 🙂

  2. Dear Jen,

    My name is Jack Wallace, and I am an editor at Spectrum literary journal, published out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2009 you published your piece “The Safest Place in the World (feng shui)” in our journal. This year, Spectrum is working to publish an anthology of works from decades past and we would like your permission to republish your piece. We have loved going back through the years to find pieces that still move our hearts today, and we would be honored if you would allow us to reprint your piece in this year’s edition. If you are not the writer of this piece and we have contacted the wrong person, we sincerely apologize. Please let us know so that we may attempt to find the right person’s contact information.

    Thank you so much for your time,

    Jack Wallace
    Editor, Spectrum Literary Journal

  3. Hi Jack, yes that’s my story! Wow, what an honor for you to want to include it in your anthology. I absolutely give permission for that. To update your files, my email now is Let me know if you need anything else. Thank you! Jen

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