Isn't this a beautiful picture? It's by Caroline Bochud and it makes me long to grab my notebook, my dog, my hat, and travel to a nice, calming spot by the river. Or a still lake. Maybe in Italy. Or England. I'll take either.
One thing I like about this painting is that this lady looks committed to whatever it is she's writing.
And even though it's not the most direct correlation to what I want to talk about - commitment - it works.
If you're struggling on the road to publication, I want you to ask yourself a question: are you committed to your writing?
It's a hard question for some. It was a hard question for me for many years. Why?
Because while I was in love with the idea of writing, while I devoured writing books and talked about writing on message boards, etc., and read lots and lots of "finding time to write" articles, I wasn't really writing a whole lot. Oh, I churned out a novel and edited and reedited it over the course of (gulp) five years. I wrote a few short stories that got published. But it wasn't a nose-to-the-grindstone, Larry the Cable guy "get 'er done" type commitment. It was half-hearted. It was "I'll write... when I have time...when I have the energy...when the kids are all in bed...when I feel like it...when I earn the graduate degree in a few months...when I get a fulltime job."
Sound familiar? Sure it does. We've all had those thoughts at one time or another. But have they gotten in the way of "getting it done?" Now, if "getting it done" is finishing a novel or short story and putting it away in your desk drawer while you start another one, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you're a writer, you write. It doesn't necessarily mean that you get published or even want to get published. The process of writing may be enough for you and I completely understand - there is a magic to writing that is hard to describe.
But... for all those writers out there whose ultimate goal is to be published, you have to have a commitment to the writing, to "getting it done."
Two years ago, before I started my current job, I was stuck. I was working on a novel, the same novel that I'd been working on for years - ever since the birth of my child - and I had revised it over and over again. I refused to let it go until it was perfect. Well, after several rounds of sending it off to the agents - of requests for fulls, requests for revisions, it ultimately got rejected. And thanks largely to the butt-kicking of my dear friend Rene, I put it away and worked to finish my next novel.
But there was something different this time. I completed that novel in a year. Compared to the last novel, it was like writing with lightning. What was it that made this time different?
I finally committed to "getting it done." I didn't want to endlessly polish one manuscript forever and ever, I didn't want to just write and put my stuff in a drawer - I wanted to be published. I still want to be published. That is my ultimate goal. And that decision, the decision to commit, changed my writing life.
I don't make excuses any more. I don't endlessly patrol the internet for articles on how to beat procrastination and writer's block (even though those are both completely valid topics that I have experienced numerous times), I don't belong to message boards where I find myself involved in flame wars instead of writing, and I cut out the stuff in my life that took away from my writing.
Will I ever be published in novel-length fiction? I am confident of it. And my confidence has only grown in the past two years.
I made the commitment and it takes a lot of hard work and tough love on myself to keep that commitment. But it's what I want. It's what I've wanted ever since I was a sixth-grader typing madly on my mother's manual typewriter on lined notebook paper. Will it all be flowers and chocolate once I'm published? I'm pretty sure it won't. But I still want it. And that's why I've made the commitment to it.
What about you?
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