Friday, September 16, 2016

Rekindling the Flame

  No one has followed our current blog series on starting a writing career or jump starting an old one with more interest than I.  In my case, the jump-start part.

  How appropriate, because this morning, I have a bad case of the Blogger Blahs.  Symptoms: feeling as if you have already said everything you had to say on a subject. Inability to focus on topic at hand.
Need for many. many cups of coffee. Sudden urge to clean office. (I never have an "urge" to clean, unless I am avoiding doing something else.)

 I've written my whole life. That's a long, long time. A long time to stay in love with a career that often doesn't love you back.

 I had about thrown in the towel with writing, when, at age 50, I sold my first book.  Suddenly the world was sunshine and roses. Every moment, every conversation, every observation was fraught with meaning. All of life was weaving itself into beautiful sentences and moments of serendipity...just so I, Mary Ann Rodman, could "use the moment" in a story.

Some ego, huh?

This fizzy, light-headed feeling reminded me of ...what? The desire to share every single last thought in writing was just like...oh yeah! It was just like falling in love!  I remember my first serious boyfriend, a guy who considered conversation a worthy way to spend an evening. (Fortunately, so did I.) We'd talk for hours, no story too insignificant, no detail to small to share, parse, consider. Seven hours talking could fly in an instant.
Winning the Zolotow Award for My Best Friend

That was exactly how I felt when I fell in love (again) with writing. With the validation of a book sale, this thing that I had done for decades now seemed sparkly fresh.  I had new-found confidence in my abilities. I could sit down at my desk and the next thing I knew it was six hours later. Not only six hours later, but with pages of new work to show for it.

And I sold books and sold books and sold books.

Such a lovely world.

But just as Real Life can follow a fairytale wedding, Real Life reared its dull, boring head in my post-publication life.  The best description of how I felt comes from one of my favorite books, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.
 was hard for her to think. The thoughts came slowly, as though they had to squeeze through a tiny door to get to her..."

When you write on a regular basis (and not just the occasional weekend or vacation), sometimes those words won't come. And when they do come, you don't like them. They don't sparkle and shine the way they did when you were first in love. Perfectly good solid words...but the magic is gone.

The disappearance of "the magic" (or the giddiness of new love) does not mean you can no longer write, and more than noticing that your significant other leaves underwear on the floor means you are headed for divorce court.  It means the miracle has become mundane. Mundane can get on your nerves. Mundane can turn your technicolor world into shades of oatmeal.

Mundane, however, is not fatal.

Where has "the magic" gone? Not very far. It's up to you to re-discover it, relish it, allow it to amaze you again. Take time to re-kindle that love of words and turn of phrase that once sent you into Outer Orbit.

The re-kindling process is different for each one of us. Working with young writers in my summer camps always gets my motor running again. Speaking to them of writing in an enthusiastic way, forces me to act out an enthusiasm I may not feel first thing in the morning. By afternoon my creative cup always runneth over.

Changing up the same old same old also works.  I listen to different music, read different genres than I usually do.  I'll hang out in the International Section of the supermarket. I am not a cook, but finding unfamiliar foods and implements sends my brain down unfamiliar paths. (The path were I actually cook something is still unexplored.)

I also have a feeling that our latest Book GiveawayThe Magic Words by Cheryl Klein, might just be part of my own re-kindling process.  Click on link for details and deadlines, as well as the Rafflecopter entry link.

As for myself, I think I'll turn my car radio from On Broadway to All-Bluegrass-All-the-Time as I head over to the library to pick up a copy of Tess of the d'Urbevilles. Time to shake off that long time indifference to British literature and banjos. Maybe I'll find The Magic again.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman


Esther Hershenhorn said...

Mary Ann Rodman, I continue to be one of your Biggest Fans.
Your honesty, your authenticity, help keep me honest and authentic. :)
Re-kindling the Magic - is - hard...but, I'm happy to say, doable.
Trying something new - a new format, a new creative project, a lesson plan, a letter to a favorite author, taking myself to a new show/musical/play/art exhibit, even reading a book I suddenly so wished - I'd - written often does the trick for me.
Our World NEEDS - your - Magic.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

"Where has 'the magic' gone? Not very far. It's up to you to re-discover it, relish it, allow it to amaze you again." Thanks, MA! I'm working on it, too!

Bobbi Miller said...

I so love this discussion! Thank you so much, Mary Ann!