At the beginning of 2012, my goal was to sell three books to a publisher. It was something I’d wanted soooo badly, that a 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. daily writing schedule (and practically every waking moment on weekends) was worth it. To obtain that goal, I’d listed five different objectives, and to obtain those objectives, I’d listed three action plans.
So where am I now? Have I reached my goal?
So how does a writer keep the dream alive? How does a writer keep writing, keep slogging through the 4 a.m. wake-ups and the inevitable “when will your book be published” questions from well-meaning friends and family?
I’d be lying if I said it was like a piece of uber-rich, non-Paleo double fudge cake that I could eat without a second thought and without having to work out. It isn’t that easy – ask any author wannabee. But it’s doable.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are days when it’d be way easier to return to the normal world, a place where people don’t live in isolation – by choice – for extended periods of time. Sometimes without a shower. Oftentimes, with dregs from the pantry thrown together with the hopes of passing it off to the family as dinner. (Anyone out there have creative ways of disguising canned tuna?)
So here are my strategies for continuing the writing journey.
1. Must. Have. Chocolate. It’s the perfect food to celebrate with as well as to commiserate with. It’s perfect with coffee as well as a glass of Cab Sauv — not too many foods fit that category! 🙂
2. Remember to focus on the joy. Savor every moment when someone honestly praises your work. After all, you’ve done something well. (Yes, Hubmeister, I know you think I’m talented, you also think a microwaved cup of old coffee is a brilliant move on my part.) At a recent RCRW meeting, author friend Delilah Marvelle reminded me of this. I guess even a well-published author sometimes needs this reminder on occasion.
3. Surround yourself with a posse. Okay, maybe not the gun-toting kind. (Sorry, Jacquie Rogers!) But the writer-kind. You know, the ones who remind you, gently or otherwise, that you’re a writer.
4. Give back a little. As in, help fellow writers whenever possible. Help with plotting a book, critique some pages, or just be there to bounce an idea off of. In this crazy business, we learn from each other when we do things for each other. At least, I do.
5. Exercise. It’s no secret that physical movement helps stimulate brain activity. Okay, okay, I made that up – but doesn’t it sound right? For me, after sitting for long periods of time, my body tells me it has to move. And once I do, returning to the keyboard is easier, and sometimes whatever story issue I’ve had is also easier to resolve.
Sometimes when I gaze out into the world where normal people live and am tempted to join them, I always come to one conclusion: If I gave up writing and became “one of them” I’d ultimately regret giving up. Not doing that.
I’m a writer. Writers write. Writing keeps my world sane, even as I continue to learn craft and fine-tune my process. And, yes, even when I’m working with a story that has to be gutted with a chainsaw instead of a surgeon’s scalpel. In those cases, it’s a love-hate thing by the time the manuscript is completed, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!
On the bright side, the end of 2012 found me further along on the path to publication than I’ve ever been – editors have shown greater interest in my manuscripts. Perhaps there will be something really cool to share one day soon. Perhaps.
Until then, I gotta keep moving, gotta keep punching keys and remember that I’m a writer and that writers write. It’s my job.