Monday, September 17, 2012
YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER? Make no excuses; take no prisoners
Writing (or for that matter anything in the arts) is unlike most other professions; it’s the thing we do (at least at the start) while we’re doing something else. Some of modern day’s best sellers were doing something else while they wrote those first books…Stephen King and Dan Brown were teachers, John Grisham was a lawyer, and Mary Higgins Clark was a widow with five children who worked in radio.
And therein lies the rub. It becomes so easy to make excuses for not writing…my day job wore me out, the kids needed too much of my time, the house was a mess, the laundry, my parents, the lawn…on and on and on the list can go. And for most of us, there are often real hardships that crop up through the course of life; few are ever spared.
So my kids have gotten a bit older (22 and 19) and I now tell them what I’m about to tell you…get over it and work.
(I laugh a little as I write this. As the author of historical fiction, my ‘voice’ tends to be very formal and yet here I am spouting sage advice with the cutting edge of a hunting knife. But it is a chance for me to be nakedly honest, and I’m shedding my clothes with grateful abandon.)
If writing is the thing you need to do; if the longing to do it eats away at you like the lust for that one lover who haunts your dreams day and night, then get over whatever may lie in the path between you, and do the work.
But it was in those first few months of the divorce debacle that I actually wondered if I could write anymore. Though I have been writing since grade school, the harshness made me hollow, perhaps the worst thing that can happen to a writer. Unlike a nine-to-five job, a writer needs their heart and soul to put word on paper, and I feared mine were lost. I had become prisoner to my own sadness and self-doubt. But I was under contract and had no time to wallow in my own dark self-pity.
So I kept going. Yes, there is a bit of my angst on many of the pages (in the current work in progress, perhaps more than ever) but it works. And most of all, I kicked the excuses to the curb, and released myself as prisoner.