Why I write.
I write well.
I have an endless amount of energy.
I have something to say.
It is important to stay on track when you decide you want to write. What keeps you writing is knowing why you’re a writer. Or an artist, or why you play the guitar in front of the local bus stop. As you can see, my list is not that deep. I can add a few more things, but it’s pretty simple. It took some time for me to simplify & summarize my intentions to tackle such an arduous task as that of a novelist. There is the quality of potency that a clear intention can possess, and that potency can fuel the fire of your creative journey.
I’ve seen many writers stop dead in their tracks and give up completely because the task either seemed too daunting or whatever plans they concocted didn’t work in their favor. We have to remember, the plan is not the goal. I’ve seen writers focus so much of their energy on being published, that once they’re published, and the book doesn’t sell, they don’t write again. They miss that their intention was to “be published.” These writers get their wish, and wonder why nothing else happens. If you don’t put intention into what you truly wish to come to fruition with your writing, it will be in a stasis state. If you’re not clear about what you want to do, you will be frustrated with seemingly puzzling outcomes. I speak from experience.
My advice to myself at this stage of my career as an emerging writer is to make lots of plans. Experiment. If one route doesn’t seem to be opening up, I can always try something different. I can shop one book to agents/publishers, and I can have fun and see what happens by e-publishing another. If I can’t get a job as a writing instructor at the local community college (which was the plan) due to the recent layoffs, then I can teach my own writing workshop. And if that doesn’t keep me excited, then I can check out venues that sponsor book readings and try that route to meet and connect with other writers.
Plans are finicky things. It sucks to know and accept that, but the wisdom to not allow this truth to deter me from the ultimate goal is what sustains my commitment.
The plan is not the goal…Ralph Marston
I have made one huge deadline, and let me say, it is a feeling of exhilaration to have one project out in the world, and another peeking over the horizon. I have learned that the life of a writer means to never stop writing. Of course there is the time to take a vacation, or a good break every now and then (I must say, I haven’t had a vacation for a long time). No matter, break or not, there is always a book pacing back and forth in the waiting room of my right brain, anxious for its name to be called forth on the page.
It is important to recognize that there is a path to publication. For me, I’ve finished one book and it makes sense to keep writing. Publication is only one accomplishment. A writer’s career takes discipline, focus, most often for many of us, sleep deprivation, and as I’ve stated earlier on, a since of fidelity. Fidelity to create a body of work that has meaning, and a body of work that has room to evolve in the quality and uniqueness of my own voice. I have been fortunate enough to have veteran writers embrace my work which gives me the nod that my choice to be an accomplished writer is not a matter of chance. Publishing is not that difficult these days. The priority for me is to publish stellar work. That is what longevity as a writer demands, a challenge I welcome with great joy.
Now that I have one book out of the way, there is the e-book to finish cranking out. I’m excited. And for those following my blog, thank you so much for your comments and dialogue. I’ve made a commitment to keep this blog going for all of us. Writers United!!
There is nothing worse than to walk around for months and years with a story in my head, in my being, that cries, yearns, to get out. Maybe I started writing it, got deep into it, but put it down because…well life made its way in between me and the page. Days and days I would sit in class thinking about the story. I laugh out loud in the line in the grocery store because my characters have emerged in this untimely manner and they’ve started to dialogue in my head though I’m miles away from my writing pad. I sit behind a desk of a temp job, my left brain reconciling expense reports while my right brain is wrestling the fate of the life of a main character, does he die of cancer or does he live to become a great artist? But instead, his fate lies in limbo, because I, the channeler of his fate, lacked the courage to say no to the demands of life. Yes, I have to pay the bills, yes, I have to go to school, yes, I have to sleep. I had to decide when I would say, Yes, I have to write.
I have learned, to be a writer, the work cannot be an if. It must always be a when. It is a commitment that must have room to express itself. It is not something to put on a list of priorities. If you wish to accomplish yourself as a writer, it is a priority. To get writing done is not to attach it to financial gain, or if you have a publisher or agent. To adopt that perspective is basically to adopt failure, as a runner doesn’t win a gold medal every time one practices in the years getting to that medal.
My writing life shifted when I had the rare opportunity to meet the author I aspired to be, Octavia Butler. When she asked me why I hadn’t finished a novel, I told her I didn’t have time as I was in school full time. She told me that I had to plan, even if it was months in advance, to save up money, to plan time in the summer, or whenever, that would be writing time. She told me I had to find that time, plan it, and make it happen. It had to take that kind of commitment and priority.
I have learned that to hold on to stories year after year means a piling up of a wasted gift. It becomes a festering reminder of something you’ve given up or put aside because well…life happened. It’s amazing how many people I’ve met who have told me that they had dreams to be a writer and even 20 years later still wonder if it was an endeavor they could have accomplished. And if it is 20 years later, what is stopping them now?
I see not writing as a refusal to embrace the muse. To submit means to give yourself to a creative dance with words, a life that pulls on you that others may not understand. You may not even understand it, but this is one of those choices you may not be able to deconstruct with your left brain, or 20 years will go by. This, is a choice of trust.