Goals, Musings, Words, Writing

Always, this ache in my heart

I’ve set my novel aside for just a little while to write some short stories. I traded in the cello for the fiddle and banjo because Bluegrass music better sets the mood for the latest few stories I’ve worked on. Then again, that music fits my mood no matter what I’m writing for another reason—the underlying heartache.

There’s heartache behind everything I write. This past year has been one of the hardest of my real life, but I’m not referring to that heartache. I don’t write about that. I write to forget that. The heartache I refer to is not in my life or even in my writing. It’s for my writing.

Each time I begin a story, I hope this will be The One. This will be the story written so beautifully I’ll amaze myself. This will be the story that captures my true feelings, my true thoughts, my heart.

Frustrated, I watch the hope melt away as I write, never quite managing to put the words I feel on paper. I type ghosts, gossamer imitations, words of gauze. The story flows from my heart a rich, full-bodied cabernet, but seeps from my brain a cheap, watery plonk.

Because some of what I’ve written has pleased others, I try to convince myself to be satisfied with that, but among the thousands of words I write, I see phrases, a sentence, perhaps a paragraph, that hint of what the whole could be, if only I knew how to fully open that connection from heart to brain.

Those diamonds among the rhinestones haunt me. This is not my perfectionism rearing its ugly head. I’m disappointed, not because I didn’t always choose the perfect words, but because I didn’t convey what I intended with those words, perfect or imperfect.

I know what’s in my heart and I believe it’s possible to release that. So, I can only write and write and write until the words flow unimpeded, powerful, and pure. Until then, there’s an ache in my heart.

Advice, Author, Craft, Doubt, Fiction, Goals, Motivation, My Books, Novel, Tips, Writing

On being an accidental author

In case you tuned in late to this blog, maybe I should explain that I started it as a public journal of my adventures in writing. I often confess things a professional author should probably keep to herself. Lately, I’ve come to doubt my professionalism. Maybe I’m more an accidental author.

I stumbled into writing The Brevity of Roses for publication. It was inspired by a dream, written into a story for myself and a friend, and then kept growing. I joined a critique group for help. I read books and blogs and sites to learn how to write better.

For the two years I wrote, edited, and polished, I thought about little else than Brevity. What I didn’t do was think about myself as an author. I didn’t think about a writing career in any sense other than generally. I didn’t think about being where I am now.

In a sense, I feel like I’ve just awakened in a strange place, confused and … nekkid. What the heck have I done? I feel so exposed. Of course, it’s only my writing that’s exposed, but it’s hard to see that as separate from myself.

I can no longer pretend that my writing is this or that, that the story is something it’s not. Some days, that hits me hard and I want to hide my eyes and pretend you can’t see me. I think about closing this blog, my Twitter account, and my Facebook Page. On the worst of those days, I consider pulling my novel off the market.

Then, something else clicks in and I lecture myself. So you’re not quite the writer you want to be. Keep working at it. So you jumped in the deep end. Dog-paddle for all you’re worth. Whether you got here by accident or design, you’re an author. Suck it up and write—and keep writing until you reach your goal—and then you’ll continue writing because you’ll be the writer you always wanted to be.

Professional or not, I wanted to be honest about my journey. I hope none of you do or ever will feel like an accidental author, but if you do, remember you’re not alone. Just keep writing.

Advice, Goals, Marketing, Social Media, Tips, Writing

Numbers are killing me!

I’ve never liked numbers. Throughout my school days, math was the only academic class I really had to study for. Numbers are impersonal. They’re the opposite of words. I love words. I can relate to them.

Now, I’ve become surrounded by numbers. How many blog subscribers do I have? Have many Twitter followers? How many Facebook friends? How many books have I sold this week? Counting, counting, counting. And for what?

I am a writer. None of those totals makes me a better writer. In fact, obsessing over those numbers hurts my writing. Numbers have kidnapped me from words.

Lately, I’ve let too many of my days be ruined by numbers—the lack of them, the loss of them. The only numbers I need care about are word counts. Even then, I can’t obsess. Twenty words today, two thousand tomorrow, it all adds up to writing.

Words are my life’s blood. Numbers? Well, they’re the vampires.

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Fiction, Goals, Life, Marketing, Novel, Promotion, Real Life, Social Media, Writing

Teaching an old dog …

Ever since I left my school days behind me, happenstance has ruled my days. As a fairly normal human and stay-at-home mother of four, I observed a schedule of certain daily activities, but I also became a queen of procrastination.

Then my household dwindled to my husband and myself. I ruled my days. As of 2008, on most days, I could spend 8 … 10 … 14 hours writing, if I wanted. And I did. Housework be damned. But as of April, I have a published book. It’s up to me to promote said book. Happenstance is no longer cutting it.

Now I’m feeling the pressure to set a schedule—and stick to it. Every fiber of my being protests. But I don’t think it’s possible to go with the flow any longer and still effectively market one book while writing another. I have to decide what is worth my time and what isn’t.

I can’t do all the things the gurus advise to promote my novel. I’ll have to pick what I think will work for me. If I’m wrong, I’ll try something else. The most important thing to me is to have time to write. I accept that the marathon sessions I had for Brevity are no longer possible. Yet, I cannot write well in 15-minute segments.

Something’s gotta give. I don’t feel like myself anymore. I don’t feel like a writer. I don’t like this life.

Your turn: Are you naturally or do you force yourself to be disciplined with your writing time?

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Advice, Doubt, Fiction, Goals, Musings, Writing

The #1 Killer of Creativity

For me, perfectionism is the #1 killer of creativity. Nothing I do ever meets my standards. Sometimes I lie and pretend I’m satisfied with the results. Sometimes I remember not to point out every fault and just smile and say thank you when I receive praise, but even when I do, I’m thinking of those faults.

Knowing that my creative endeavor will fall short saps my excitement, drains my energy, murders my enthusiasm almost before I begin. How could it not? Where does this standard come from? Nothing is perfect. Everyone knows that. So, why do I expect the impossible of myself?

Perfectionism is a denial of self. If I can’t accept that where I am is a good place, I can’t ever move forward. I won’t ever improve because eventually I will stop trying.

Perfectionism is selfishness. I can’t fully appreciate anyone else’s work either because I’ve set myself up as judge. I see its flaws and temper my praise.

Perfectionism is arrogance. Who qualified me to set this impossible standard? If nothing is perfect, who am I to think I can achieve what others can’t?

Perfectionism is death.

Let it go and create.

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