Note: I’ve added a new page at the top called Current Scene FA Pic. A handy place to check the current photo for writing as well as the deadline. Yes, I put in a deadline. Not for pressure– no. My purpose was to alleviate pressure so you know how long you can let a photo simmer. Easier than my usual just fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style, isn’t it? Took me long enough to come up with the idea.
That’s me. Uh, this isn’t something I’ve just figured out, but to be honest, I never was a slow learner before I decided to jump into this writing gig. Maybe that’s why the lessons that pertain to writing were so hard for me to learn.
I’m no longer embarrassed by the amount of time it took. I used to be so embarrassed about it, I stopped attending writing meetings, then stopped writing altogether. For years. I took a job in a family business and proceeded to be miserable. Not because I had to work– no, that’s life. Because I’d quit writing. Oh, since today’s post is about brutal honesty, I quit finishing and submitting. Big difference there. I’ll explain in a sec.
Yes, I still feel the hot flush of shame occasionally. Please, I finished my first book at 21 and here I am fifteen years later with six completed books under my belt. Books that will never, ever see the light of day. Books I can hardly bear to revisit myself. And yes, it’s hard to go to family gatherings and hear the inevitable, “You still trying to do that writing thing?”
Actually, it’s worse when they quit asking.
(Short story sales don’t really count with them. Ever noticed that? <g>)
So, I stopped. But did I really?
Nah. Most writers never really stop. They may not put something into polished form, may not submit to magazine and book publishers, but the ideas are still there, hovering in the nosebleed section of their brains. They may put a guard rail around those ideas and ignore them or… like me, they may accumulate intimidating piles of scratch-filled notebooks. Ideas, notations, observations. (I’m a damned pack rat.)
This isn’t like a job you take on to earn minimum wage and put food on the table. (Not that the current min. wage does that…) No, it’s more like a down deep, life giving part of who we really are. We see the possibilities of stories in odd places, find ourselves daydreaming in the oddest places and we learn to accept that it’s just the way it is and make it work… in the oddest places. If we’re lucky, we learn that particular lesson fast.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of writers start out thinking it’s going to be easy. There will be days when it is easy and and you end the day with that euphoric high that only comes from true personal accomplishment. Good times.
And then there will be days and even weeks when you feel like you’re having to slice your wrists and bleed on the page. Times when you feel you will never get it to the place you want it to be. Times when regular life interferes so much, you want to scream in frustration.
My advice is to not give up. Good times come back and in the meantime, you might learn a thing or two.
When I decided to jump back into the deep end, I knew it wouldn’t be any easier than it was the first time around. I still don’t know what’s lurking for me in that water, but I now have something going for me I didn’t before.
My skin is thicker, my attitude bigger. I know it takes hard work and time to get the words right and that good writing doesn’t always come in a first or even the second draft. I’ve learned that not every rejection is a sign from a higher power to quit. <g>
And while I may still feel a twinge of worry over family reactions to certain aspects of my writing, I’ve learned that I’m not responsible for other people’s happiness. There isn’t anything I can do about that horrible human tendency to judge. It’s going to be there no matter what I do.
So, I have to do what’s right for me. This breath-stealing urge to create compelling stories is alive and swimming fast. Nothing’s gonna block its way. Not even me.