I’ve been feeling really crappy this week. My doctors have been tinkering with meds to try to get my blood pressure under control, and the side effects of the meds have knocked me for a huge loop. Which is my way of apologizing for this being a day later than it should be. AND is the best way I can think of to start this entry!
I’ve been reading magazines (writing ones, primarily) and Facebook posts quite a bit this week. Both meant I didn’t have to think. Both made me think, there’s irony in that, I think.
People pay a great deal of attention to what people say about the kinds of things they are writing. I have. For years I’ve looked at the fact that poetry really doesn’t sell so well unless you are a famous poet. But if they don’t sell, how do you get to be a famous poet? If people aren’t buying what I am writing, why is what I’m writing relevant and why do I see the kind of things that I’m writing in print? That seems to be the ultimate catch 22 conundrum.
I read an article in the May/June issue of Writer’s Digest that speaks a great deal to this. No Reservations, in the inkwell column, suggests that, despite the fact that people seem to claim that memoir as a genre is a cheap overused hack of a writing venue. But it also points out that people are making money with it and is a great way to break into the writing life as a paid writer, often a well-paid writer.
Hot on the tail of that article, I read a post by Christine Schwab on Facebook that the publishing industry is in a state of flux (go figure, most of my attention right now is focused on being able to publish epub-mobi-ibook format to get my words out) but that the fact that it is in flux shouldn’t keep writers from writing and shouldn’t discourage any of us. Her quote seems to sum it up pretty well…
“it has long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things come to them. They went out and happened to things”
-Leonardo da Vinci
This gave me great hope, this week, because what I’m currently playing with is a series of memoir kind of books, or maybe more to the point fiction based to a great extent on reality, a book with my son that is directly memoir, and my poetry. Maybe there will be a market for my work. Maybe not, but I’m certainly not going to let that doubt stop me.
AND you, dear writer/reader, should not let it stop you. Don’t kill your darlings. Follow your heart, chase your dreams, and maybe think about writing out your deepest darkest secrets or your biggest ugliest pet peeves and see if there might just be a market for your words. You can’t be the only one, and don’t we all, secretly, like to eavesdrop on other people’s lives? I’m not kidding myself that I will make ten thousand dollars (but I might, and why not take that chance), but maybe I can do something better, touch just one person who needed to be touched and leave a small mark on eternity.
Okay, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!!!
It’s been a busy week for me. I know that I end up saying that most weeks, but this week was busier than most at my day job. I had a class to teach and a lot of busy work to get done. I’m three days from being able to claim I wrote a poem a day, every day, for NaPoWriMo. Not all stress is bad stress! By yesterday I was almost completely burned out on day job and really needing to find a way to center myself and get my muse back on.
I took a longish lunch (who knew longish was really a word!) and went to a local indie bookstore that is always good to spend time in and soak up the atmosphere. I rarely buy any books there, sometimes one of the eclectic journals to write in, sometimes an artsy fartsy pen, but the books I end up promising myself for later.
The floors are well worn wood. The shelves are randomly placed. The stairs to the second floor are wide and winding and the tread shows the marks of thousands upon thousands of visitors. There are backpacks (locally made) and gypsy skirts hanging, cases of local artist art work and Buddhist and Hindu statues. And the incense that fills the air adds to the feel. The ambiance of the place is as much what I go for. And it works. It never fails to help me find the place in myself where I can be still and connect with myself and remember why I am who I am. Why I write. It quietly calls to my muse.
This is how I find the time to connect with myself.
What is yours? Find the place, your back yard, a park, a flower garden or beside some running water, where you can connect with yourself. Somewhere that you can go (even a somewhere within yourself if you can find the stolen time to go there) that can replenish your soul. I know that, as writers we are supposed to be able to take all of those stolen moments and use them productively to write. This is especially true when we are busy writers with other busy lives. Nurture yourself and your writing will show the results.
But sometimes the most productive thing you can do for yourself is find that place and go there to nurture yourself. Sometimes, it can be a place where you escape to do your writing. When that is the case, it is the best of both worlds. But when you can’t use it as your writing space, escape there whenever the need arises. Capture the look and feel. Take pictures or video. We all have phones with us all the time; why not make use of it? Use the pictures on your vision board or your computer as a gentle reminder.
Be gentle with yourself, fair writer, and do whatever it takes to keep yourself on this wonderfully, sometimes stressful, magical road we find yourselves walking together!
When I was in the 4th grade (decades ago) I wrote a story for a Language Arts assignment. It was called “The Cat, The Dog, and The Jellybeans”. I got an A on the paper, and the teacher said she really enjoyed reading it. I was hooked. It was then that I decided I wanted to write.
I told my family. They thought it was cute. They all told me that “People like you don’t write, honey. And if you do write, you will never be able to publish anything. And if you do publish things, you will have to pay people to publish your work and you will never make any money at it”. They didn’t understand that it wasn’t money that it was all about. The words were just in my head and I loved them.
I wrote for the literary journals in school. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I rarely told anyone at home I was still writing. My teachers encouraged me. Kids at school congratulated me. But the words in my head still echoed. People like you… people like you… people like you.
Skip forward, (by this time I was REALLY hiding my writing because it didn’t pay and no one understood) and find me sitting in a cube farm, making a living but not really living. I needed a book to help me figure out how to do my job. And there wasn’t any book written. So, after I slept (it was a long project) I got mad and wrote the book I wanted to read. And I found someone willing to take a chance on me who published it. And I got an advance on royalties check. And I saw my name on a book jacket. And I was hooked again. I wrote a few geek books. And was published. And I fell in love with the words again.
People like me, and people like you, can write. If you don’t mind living your dream and chasing your own dandelion fluff, you can do it. It isn’t easy. Sometimes it is a lot of work and sometimes it means forgoing things that you might rather do, but you CAN do it.
Find your voice (of late, mine has been headed back to poetry, my first love) and let your own voice sing. Don’t ever pay heed to the people who tell you that People Like You can’t. We are all people like you, and people like you CAN!