Monday, September 19, 2016

You Are Not Alone


Photo by Visual Hunt


Mary Ann’s heartfelt journey about rekindling the flame:  “I’ve written my whole life. That’s a long, long time…to stay in love with a career that often doesn’t love you back.”

JoAnn talked about carrying on anyway, and about the power of letting go of the clutter in our lives. 

Carmela offers insights into improving your writing, about the evils of perfectionism, and how perfection murders the joy of writing. 

Carla offers tips to start – or restart – your writing career by highlighting a few things she wishes she had known when she started.

A writer’s life is an oxymoron. 

We need to live a solitary existence. Most of us are introverts. We live inside our heads, giving birth to fictional beings and struggling to give them meaning. We deconstruct an experience to its heartbreaking core. To do so, we send our characters into battle, into outer space, move them forward and backward in time. We kill off their favorite pet, or their best friends, and sometimes their mothers. Even as they cry, we cry.

It’s hard work, and it’s exhausting.

But even as we exist in a self-imposed solitary confinement, we also have to run a business. We have to leave our cabin in the woods and venture into the real world of flesh and bone. This means, we have to navigate a life external to our comfort zone and the writing process but one that is not separate. We have to persuade editors and agents that our characters matter. We have to toot our horns. We have to explain why and how our work matters in the broader world of literacy even as we address why and how it fits into the corporate business plan. We have to navigate techno-babble, like tweeting and snapchatting and instagramming, and become proficient in cross-platforming. We have to earn money to live, often finding second and third jobs to make sure our bills are paid. We have to buy health insurance and pay our taxes.

We have to deal with rejection, again and again and again. We're told it’s not personal, but it certainly feels personal. Friends offer empathy, asking when are we going to write real books, like those for adults. Then these killjoys offer that they plan to write a children's book, once they retire from their real jobs, because there just aren't any good books out there.How hard can it be, they say most affectionately.

Is it a wonder, then, that sometimes we just can’t go on. We’ve had enough. We can’t say another word, or write another chapter.

Our wells and wills of inspiration dry up, and our joy ebbs.

Christopher Vogler once suggested (A Writer’s Journey) that a writer’s journey is like a hero’s journey. The self-doubts and perfection-seeking, the writer’s block and procrastination are the shadows of our inner darkside. They are the annoying voices in our head confirming every  self-doubt we assume about ourselves. They threaten to destroy the process, and often succeed.  Bad reviews, computer break-downs, never-ending revisions, deadlines and all the other life’s demands become the ordeals we have to overcome. Editors and publishers and marketing directors stand at the threshold, shouting in a booming Gandolf baritone, “You shall not pass!”

Take heart. You got this.

It takes courage to write. And you have it inside you to fight this fight, as James Bell once said. (The Art of War for Writers).

Sentence by sentence. Day by day. Chapter by chapter. Week by week.

One step at a time. One scene at a time. You write, then you think about what to write, then you write some more.

Until it’s done.

You are the hero of this story. So be the hero.

And just remember, you are not alone.

Bobbi Miller


And, don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Cheryl Klein’s THE MAGIC WORDS (W.W. Norton). The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends September 26.

There are three ways you can enter. Visit Esther’s review of THE MAGIC WORDS here to enter the giveaway!

4 comments:

Carmela Martino said...

Excellent post, Bobbi! You've revved me up this morning. :-)

Yvonne Ventresca said...

Motivating post! Thanks!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Oh, Bobbi! This is so right, through and through, one perfectly-put sentence after another. Thank you!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thank you, Bobbo, for telling it like it TRULY is...and doing so so beautifully.
Your words were just what the Dr. ordered for so many of us.