I burrowed my cold hands deeper into my coat pockets and lowered my head against the icy blast blowing through the outdoor street mall. I just wanted to get home and sit down to warm chowder. Then the cheerful jig of a violin summoned my spirit. It’s simple melody swirled around bone-dry fountains and bounced off glass-covered buildings. Spring’s equinox hadn’t yet come; a frigid month remained. I wondered at this busker’s bravery. Walking farther, I spotted him. With swollen red knuckles, he deftly tuned the A string and tested its sound. Not quite. Tried again. Turned the peg a notch. And then purity. It sliced through the grey smudge of remaining winter. A bystander tossed a coin into the open violin case. It jingled as it slid across a grin of golds and silvers and came to rest on the well-worn red velvet.
That phrase is music to the author’s ears. Sold out! We whisper to ourselves, “Why that means they love me. They love my book. I am a success!”
And when we don’t hear those words, do we hear these? “I’m a failure. I might as well quit writing. I’ll never make it in this business.”
Love is all you need … (The Beatles)
Love me with all of your heart … (Ray Charles Singers)
I can’t help falling in love with you … (Elvis)
Love will keep us together … (Captain & Tennille)
We sing about love, talk about love, write about love, especially at this time of year. But do we really know what love is?
In the movie The Help, Ms. Hilly spent all her time trying to control her world and the people in it. You might say she was building her platform.
I’m all for building platform, proclaiming our names, and selling our books, but there is a limit.
A constant stream of messages tout this expert or that and each of them apparently knows more about platform (or may I say staging?) than we do. By the way, do you know the definition of the word “expert”? Is an unknown quantity and a spurt is a drip under pressure! I know this to be true because occasionally, even I am flaunted as an expert.
It has to start somewhere. Your next writing project, I mean.
There you are, sitting in front of your computer with a lovely blank white screen, ready to start that epic novel, lyrical poem, or profoundly wise article. How do you begin?
Just like bringing a baby into the world, writing may be a painful process as you conceptualize worlds, characters, and projects into being. Expect the struggle. Plan on packing patience for the process.
Sometimes it is the writing that is the struggle, and other times the writing is affected by life’s surprises and hindrances. They may be severe, as in the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of your health, or they may be merely annoyances such as a sinus cold. Whatever stage you are at in your “labour pains,” whether it is those first twinges or the hand-squeezing, teeth-gritting phase, bite down on these realities and see if they help you endure:
I love a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to improve, to avoid pitfalls from the past, to review and make new plans.
This past year I’ve poured a lot of my time and energy into writing weekly blogs on my website in an attempt to connect and gradually grow a following. Writing blogs was never something I thought I’d pursue. I’m a fiction writer. But surprise, surprise! I love it.
As 2015 comes to an end, it is natural to reflect on the year that has gone past. I’m one of those people who likes to set goals. I like making lists and checking things off as I accomplish them. This year was no different. Word count, publishing goals, marketing strategies, professional development … all of these categories made it onto my roster for 2015. This activity helps me stay motivated and also serves to encourage me when I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything.
Shortly after I agreed to write this blog post on the topic “Writing When Life Gets Crazy,” it did. The saying “It never rains but it pours” is apt for my life right now.
I received invitations to speak at 7 events taking place within 18 days. Our chronically ill youngest daughter took a turn for the worse and needed rides to multiple medical appointments. A vehicle her family and we often share was down for major repairs. And to make it “a perfect storm,” my five-month-old laptop started giving trouble and was sent away to have its hard drive replaced. I’m writing this on a loaner laptop, trying to do without email for several weeks, muddling through back-up files of speaking notes and half-written blog posts.
When isn’t life crazy? Job, family responsibilities, and news events crash against us like the wind batting and shaking our homes. If that’s not enough, then the media whispers ceaselessly around the cracks of our windows, letting us know that we are not beautiful, wealthy, or powerful enough. And yet we must take time to write through these storms. How?