Alanis Morissette


I caught an episode of A&E’s Private Sessions with Alanis Morissette, and boy, was it amazing.  Alanis is one of my all-time FAVORITE singers and will remain so whether she puts out an album or not.  She reminded me why, too.

During her interview, she said something the really struck me.  I’m paraphrasing this because I was in the kitchen at the time frying bacon and toasting waffles and nowhere near a piece of paper to write it down.  Anyway, she said something like she isolated herself from what people had to say about her, both good and bad, by going into her studio to work.  Why?  Because when you start to listen to what others are saying, in a sense, they censor what you have to say.   In other words, it can become a feeding frenzy for your inner critic.

A glutton of information exists out there and everyone has an opinion about everything.  Some people like what you write while others don’t.  Then, we sometimes fall in the trap of carving out our stories to meet their needs and wants, including those of the market.  After both consciously and unconsciously doing this very thing, I’ve taken drastic measures over the past year to protect my creativity by “going into my studio to work.” 

I think author Allen Wold said it best when he said, “Never change your work to suit anyone else’s needs unless they’re handing you pay check.”  That’s where musician and writers differ a tad.  Eventually, we have to fix our work so that it will sell.  But unless it’s under guidance of someone you really trust, you should only change what you feel comfortable with. 

As authors, we tend to listen to everything related to the market because we think somewhere in that mishmash is the key to getting published.  That could be the case, but I refuse to take a Holy Grail approach toward it.  If I did, then I’m sure to censor myself without realizing it and that won’t work.  😉

So who’s your Alanis Morissette?  What person outside of writing (or what you love) strikes a cord with your writing dreams and why?


16 thoughts on “Alanis Morissette

  1. I’d think that even Alanis listens to her musical director and musicians. Don’t know if she has a producer, but if she chose one, she probably listens to him or her, even if she might end up not agreeing with the advice.

    I admire Jennifer Hudson. She didn’t let Simon’s words crush her in the American Idol contest. She didn’t let her elimination stop her, either. She believed in herself and she persevered, becoming an Oscar winner. Lastly, she didn’t let a personal tragedy stop her. She came back at the Super Bowl with her powerful voice and was riveting.

  2. A few weeks ago Oprah had a show about following your passion. One of the guests, a 25 year old millionaire, said he followed his passion and not a pay-check. In other words, he went about doing what he loved without any thought to making money. As he put it, and I’m paraphrasing entirely, when you start doing what you love with the focus on making money, greed comes into play and the dream loses its momentum.

    I think the only thing that will get me published is to not make that the center of it all. Listening to others, of course, helps, as long as it’s someone who can back up their “helpfulness”.

    Great blog, Marcia! It’s almost as good as our phone conversations. 🙂

  3. Great post! I totally agree with Alanis and I believe that you should continue writing what you love even if not everyone will love it. I admire those people who keep at it. It’s funny, I wrote a post about Ernest Hemingway today and how he influenced my writing.. 🙂

  4. Edie, when Alanis is in that studio, I’m sure those are the only people she listens to since their name is going on her album. Then again, she could be so popular that she’s in a position to call most of the shots. Who knows? *shrug*

    I LOVE Jennifer Hudson! I think her not winning American Idol was a godsend. The powers-that-be had a much higher calling for her. Not many American Idol-ers have an Oscar, are invited to sing at the Superbowl, or pick up a Grammy. Her rising above tragedy to become the woman she is today is such an incredible story. She took care of business and it paid off. 😀

  5. In other words, he went about doing what he loved without any thought to making money.

    How many people get caught up in this trap? I’m sure many authors have and it shows in their work.

    One thing I learned during a three-day writer’s workshop (two brillant writers under eighteen attended) is that the younger you are, the less they’re corrupted by the world and its ideas. We older folks could really learn a lesson from them when it comes to our dreams. Money isn’t necessarily a bad thing until it becomes the center of our world. Case in point: Wall Street. Just like our economy crashed and burn, the same will happen to our careers if we lose sight of our dream.

    Though I can’t speak for everyone, when I first started out, my goal was to write a damn good book that excited my senses and blew away my imagination. Getting it published was second. Since I’ve been writing, that order of priorities hasn’t changed.

    We should have more phone conversations. I love ’em. Hmmmm, maybe even turn it into a conference call with some more folks on the line. 😉

  6. I believe that you should continue writing what you love even if not everyone will love it. I

    Jax, I believe this is how we not only stay true to ourselves, but to our writing. If we tried to please everyone that came along, we’d drive ourselves insane. I say we let go and just control what’s in our means to control. There’s less drama that way. 😉

    I’m heading over to read your blog because you’ve got me intrigued about Hemingway!

  7. Hey, this is a great post! I’m not sure if I have an Alanis, lol. But I know exactly what you’re saying here. From my perspective I have the business hat and the art hat. And I feel like I have to be concerned with what readers/reviewers/whatever are saying, in order to do business.

    Because those people are not only readers, they are customers. When art and commerce mix, it’s really weird. I’m not sure how to handle it, or what I’m going to do about it, and I’m really glad that I’m able to test out different ways to deal with it in a very small pool to figure out how to handle myself and what to do.

    Speaking of fans, I saw the “felt womb with the mutant baby inside” that one of Stephenie Meyer’s fans made, and holy crap, what is that about? Some of the fans out there are pretty scary. And whether they’re making a felt womb, or trying to guide/direct your work with their criticism or praise, there is this really big part of me that thinks the sooner I can make a very clear division between my work and the fans of that work, the better for everyone involved.

    There are some writers out there that some people think are really “snobby” but I really understand that need that many have to just make clear social boundaries between them and their fans.

  8. The trick is to sift through the mish-mash of information, Marcia, to find those nuggets of gold that work for you. I’ve learned long ago that there is no magic bullet when it comes to publishing. Sure, there’s luck, who you know, but ultimately … it comes down to talent.

    Love the Allen Wold quote. Ever so true.

  9. Great post, Marcia! I can’t really think of one specific person who has struck a cord with my writing dreams, but I will say I find inspiration everywhere. I mean, really, EVERYWHERE.

    I love reading stories of how people got started in the business. I love the inspirational posts that authors write (like yourself, and Jax).

    Everyone likes positive feedback and negative feedback may sometimes hurt, but either way I think I’d be most satisfied in my career if I’m writing what satisfies my creativity and not other people’s opinions. But I agree, Liz, sifting through the information out there is a good idea.


  10. That’s a good point, Zoe. We have to set boundries between ourself and our fans. Without them, we’re bound to fall into the trap of trying to please everybody and end up pleasing only a few.

    We all have to wear the business and art hats at some point. Balancing the two, as I’ve found out, is an art form in itself. We have to pay attention to what customers are saying, acknowledge it, then move on. Because at the end of the day, it’s about us trying to get the best work out there we possibly can. The money will follow, although the business side might spend time biting it’s nails off. 😉

    felt womb with the mutant baby inside

    Let me get this straight. Fans were in an uproar over this? It’s definitely jarring, but as a reader, too, I can find better things to lose my temper over.

  11. Marcia, hehe true, but I was thinking more about the crazy fans and maybe a good boundary is in order to kind of keep that at bay. Nobody likes a crazy stalker fan that mails you a lock of their hair.

    As for the womb, “fans” weren’t upset about it, but people outside the fandom thought it was insane and creepy, including me. I mean look at this:

    It’s not something to get angry about, just something that makes you go ewwww or wtf?

  12. Liz, I think sifting through the junk is the only way I’ve managed to keep my sanity all these years. 😉 I remember walking into this whole writing thing as a newbie and thinking, my one book certainly can’t measure up to these people. It was then that my writing changed and I hated the direction it was going.

    I look at writing like a pair of tailored pants. Who cares what the seamstress suggests? If you’re going to wear them, then you have to make sure they’re comfortable for you. 😉

  13. Well, now I’d say it’s Alanis Morissette! I was nodding through your entire post, Marcia! I love it!

    I say that the best thing that ever happened to me was spending my first five or so years as a writer by writing in a bubble, all alone. I often think I need to do that again for awhile. I don’t know. It’s been in my mind for about a year, but I just love my writing friends so much!

  14. Tivi, I LOVE hearing THE CALL stories. No matter how many times I’ve read them or heard them, they’re always seem different somehow. They’re very inspirational.

    As creative people, I think we all have this weird ability to see inspiration in everything and everywhere. It’s like we have this predisposition to see it where others don’t. Maybe that’s just our creative center of the brain working in overdrive. After all, I cling to my everyday experiences in case I need to use them in a WIP. 😉

  15. 😆 Zoe, put me down for ewwwwww.

    No stalking fans yet. In fact, I think the day a fan stalks me, is the day they’ll need to watch over their own shoulder. I’m more than happy to return the favor of making someone else’s life a living hell. Granted, I’ll try every option available first. 😉

  16. Interesting you should say that, Spy. I’ve taken some steps toward getting my writing head back to where it was before my RWA days. I think it’s okay to write in a bubble, as long as we’re okay with it and our creativity continues to flow. If anything backs it up like a toilet, then shit is all we’ll be putting out there. I like my fans too much to let something like that happen. In fact, I’m sure they’d appreciate my not purposefully putting shit out there, too. 😉

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