“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
“The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished mss of today.”
– Philip Unwin
Having been a classical dancer for most of my life, injuries are second nature to me. I’m pretty good with grinning and bearing it. The best example would be spraining my ankle on stage during a performance in front of a few hundred people. I kept dancing that piece and the two pieces that followed. It’s part of the trade. Similar I would say to cutting or burning myself during a dinner rush, while working the line, on a wait. You just keep going.
Being a dancer and a chef taught me a few very valuable lessons. The most important one–Don’t Quit. I am utilizing these lessons in my writing — or trying to.
Let’s face it, writing is hard–very hard at times. And not only because the craft must be mastered, but also because of the emotion needed to create characters, worlds, dialogue and conflict. It’s a struggle.
Not at all unsimilar to struggling with say….an old knee injury. My recurrent knee injury is from many years past (the ankle is good now). I was 15 when my orthopedic doctor suggested, no , he flat-out told me, to quit dancing because of my knee. Ha! Not likely. I do remember making a sort of hyena snorting sound. I didn’t quit. It wasn’t in me to quit. After physical therapy and a few weeks on crutches (because PT was so painful I couldn’t walk out of the office on my own) I was back to my vices.
Later, running became my new source of self-inflicted pain. Due to this marvelous decision on my part, I am back in PT with the same old injury. Riding the stationary bike for miles and miles in burning pain. Yes, I’ve been here before. Me and the bike are old
Eleven miles today at 18 mph and the knee is feeling better. Honestly. Strange how something you hate can actually make you feel better at times. Like the taste of Nyquil. Gotta choke it down but in the morning, you can at least say you slept. Granted, it could be because Nyquil is like 80% alcohol–but that’s another post.
Point here–I have one–is that moving forward or not giving up is a necessary part of life. I hate that damn bike, but I’m gonna keep riding it because it helps me. I hate editing. I reallyyy do, and I hate the place I am in right now with my writing. The stuck place. Can’t move forward–can’t move backward. But I know if I keep peddling, keep pointing my toes, keep my hands away from the flames and KEEP moving straight with my writing–I will be okay.
So DON’T QUIT! My advice to myself, my advice to you. None of what we are doing here is easy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. It just means—well, it means some of us take the long way around instead of plowing through the middle.
Let me just say it.
I’m going to be honest for a second here. I haven’t been writing much. I know! Bad Me. The truth? I’m tired of it. Not writing mind you–I’m tired of my story. Tired of messing with it, tired of editing and trying to make sure it’s where it needs to be, what I want it to be. Maybe that’s a good thing. I finally reached the ‘sick of it’ stage. The problem with this stage, — I am going nowhere.
What’s worse is that I am flirting with starting another novel seed in my plethora of ideas. I know! Bad again. I should be finishing editing #1 and releasing it into the wild. I even created decent cover art after the Gimp fiasco! I should be writing #2 in my series. I should, I should, but I CAN’T right now.
AND….I am ignoring the blog. I’m getting worse and worse at posting. No, No, I don’t need a break, I’ve had a break. What I need is to plant my butt in the chair and write.
So there. Spoiled Laney having another tantrum. Just to let you all know that yes, I’m still here. Still fussing around with 80,000 words I’ve been fussing around with for a year and a half. ;P
The leaves are already beginning to rain down. Only August, and I can feel Fall in the air. It approaches so quickly this time of year. One minute summer vacation is in full steam and the next, football season is starting and school clothes are being bought. Another year gone by. They move so fast.
My writing progress this summer has been slacking. It happens. I’m learning, or trying to learn, to be ok with that. To put less pressure on myself to ‘keep up’ with it all. It’s not been easy. I have a pile of work in front of me, work I’ve let overwhelm me, work I’m now viewing in a different light-from a different angle. I simply can’t do it all. Nor do I think I, or anyone, should be expected to.
When we sit back and look at everything we as writers are expected to do, especially with social media, it can be incredibly overwhelming.
A few of my friends are having a difficult time with their own writing journey’s right now. It breaks my heart, because I know that feeling. Really well. I’ve been in that place. Wondering why I was wasting time, wondering what I was doing. Who am I to be doing all of this, writing all the time? What if it goes nowhere? I think most of us hit that wall now and then, it’s normal. Some of us push-off the wall, others stay glued to it.
We become so focused, so embedded in our thoughts–our own heads, when we write. It’s easy to understand why throwing in the towel is an appealing option. Who needs all those headaches?
I guess that depends on who’s asking–and who’s answering.
I think a lot of very talented writers simply become overwhelmed. This industry can be too much. It can be easier to just stop. Put the laptop down, close up the notes and walk away from the desk. Close off the writing thoughts until they stop creeping in anymore. A chapter closed.
Thing is, these writers–these people, they touch other writers.
I have come to depend on certain fellow blogger/writer friends I’ve made over the course of my journey and selfishly, I want them to hang around. I want us all to see this thing through together, even if our goals and aspirations are completely different. I want to know we all did our best and tried.
So this post is to two friends in particular who are having doubts and questioning what they are doing right now and why. Two friends who have simply run out of something to say.
You know who you are. And I want you to know, that YOU inspire me. You inspire a lot of writers. So don’t go.
Sometimes, all we need is a little inspiration.
When does that magical day come? The one when you wake up and a voice inside your head says, “Ok, you’re ready now. Go ahead, publish.”
It’s the bright lights, big city illusion. The day of, “Ah…I’m here!” I’m not sure if that day really exists. For anyone.
I am pretty sure though, that no-one can tell you when you’re ready. No voice wakes you up rattling in your psyche to let loose the magical words. I’m afraid we all need to make the, “I’m ready for this,” decision on our own.
Even the big dogs in the industry had to suck it up and go on submission. Many of which were denied plenty before ever being accepted by publishers. Some of whom, even now and by their own admission, aren’t completely convinced of their talent as writers.
As the self published/ebook revolution comes more and more to the forefront, authors and writers have yet another big decision to make; whether or not to go it alone. No agent, no publishing house, no one there to pat you on the back and validate your work. No one to tell you it’s time to go public and it’ll all be ok. It’s just you and maybe a few paper bags for when the hyperventilation sets in as you hit ‘publish’ on Smashwords.
No longer is creating a query letter the main focus when your novel is finished. No longer are writers inundating agents slush piles left and right. Nope. Now, more and more of us are going it alone. No net. And for a plethora of reasons.
The big city, big lights dream seems to have shifted itself over the past few years. Writers are looking to simply be heard. And now they have the means of doing exactly that. We are in the age of bright lights, small town and about now, I’m thinking most of us are feeling pretty alright with that. We have the means of publishing our work and in the grand scheme of things, I believe that it is the ultimate goal. We all hope to be liked, have our words resonate, but at the end of the day, we also feel the need to just be read.
The rest is just glory.
One of the pieces of advice I remember most was given by my college dance instructor,”Laney, you’re one of those dancers who has all this talent but never comes to class.” She shook her head, I remember, as if I were driving her crazy and went on to say that I could do so much with my talent if I just put the time in.
Thing was, I’d been dancing my entire life. I’d put the time in. I’d busted my ass and now all I wanted to do was show it. I wanted to perform. And so I did. I put in hours and hours of rehearsal time every week, performed a few times a year and I loved it. I wasn’t interested in going to class. I knew the drill. I was happy in the now. I was performing and performing well and wasn’t THAT the point??
For Ms. Alora, there was so much more that I was capable of. So much more I was losing out on. I was a good dancer. But in my instructors eyes, I could’ve been great. I was wasting my talent by not coming to class.
Sure I could’ve gone much further than I did. Busted my ass a little harder, hung in there a little longer. But, I was happy doing what I was doing.
Now, as I read everything under the sun in regard to publishing and honing the craft as a writer, I wonder, have I put in the time? Would my dance instructor say, “Laney, you need to keep studying. Don’t publish yet.”
After dancing for close to 16 years at the time of her first bit of advice, she still wanted more. I continued to dance for many years after that and I never forgot her words.
As I look at my completed novel, I wonder, should I study for a little longer? Bust my ass for a few more years?
Was Ms. Alora right?
I put in my time as a dancer. Years and years of it. And at the end of the day, I did what made me happy. That should count for something. When is it ok to trust that you’re on the right path for you?
No one can say whether or not I should have showed up for class more. Or that going along with what someone else thought was the right way to go–was indeed the right way. It was my way. I get to choose. And if I fail, then I fail–but at least I tried. At least I chose the road to travel–it wasn’t chosen for me.
I didn’t fail as a dancer because my path was different from what was expected–I excelled because I listened to what I thought was right.
All this second guessing surrounding the publishing industry is enough to drown new writers. Which way is up or down? Will people like my work? Will they destroy it with reviews?
But here’s the real question–Will you be happy or even content if you don’t publish your work? If it stays hidden in a drawer?
Why put in all that time and effort if you don’t plan to perform?
I mean, that’s the whole point. Isn’t it?
I have more documents on my first WIP than I care to admit. I’d venture to guess I have around seven, at least. They all contain different information as well as the same information repeating itself. Information I am deathly afraid of losing. Why? A years worth of headaches are wrapped into those documents. First drafts and second drafts and sixth drafts. Ideas and notes and brain storms are within those docs. Plus, I have three full notebooks of notes as well.
And through all of that information and research and time and sweat, I wonder–did I use it all? Is it all in there? Inside the novel, tucked away in its pages and in its story? I don’t know if it is. I did so much in regard to my first book that it completely overwhelmed me. It was too much information. Too many ideas and I couldn’t shut it down. So really–there is NO WAY that all of those painstaking hours of doc filling and note taking made it into the final draft. Or did it?
As I have begun my second book in the series, a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders. I know where this story is going. I know my characters now, the scenes, the setting–I know my story. In the beginning, I was still fumbling through. Ideas striking all the time, waking me up in the night. Blocks that took forever for me to break through. I didn’t know where I was going, or what I was doing in the first draft. I think–I hope–I do now.
So although, every idea I had did not find a place in my final copy, all of those ideas found a place in the overall feel of the story–in the overall drive and forward motion of the story. That brain storming crazed state of mind pushed me to finish my book. All those documents and filled notebooks found their place.
They were worth saving.