Tag Archives: adversity

Life, Inspiration, and . . . a Red Sheep?

What a week to have to write a post for this wonderful blog (authored by some of the greatest human beings I know!). Somehow, I’ve got to write a post that follows David Farland–arguably one of the most successful writers of just about anything and everything speculative fiction–a book give away, and an insightful and scary look into the functioning of the brain?

What if I just put a cool picture of a red sheep out there and call it a day? No?

To be honest, the picture has nothing at all to do with this post. I just liked it and wanted to use it in a blog post. I probably should have saved it, using it when I had an idea for a post that would actually work with a picture of a red sheep.

And if I’m honest once again, this is about the most I’ve written in the last three weeks. And in November of all months! I competed in NaNoWriMo last year and won, finishing before Thanksgiving, but this year, nothing. So, what happened? Life happened.

And just so I don’t give the wrong impression, nobody died. But neither do I want to talk about what it was here on a public blog. What it was isn’t the issue. The issue is the lack of writing. Nay, the lack of desire to write.

For three weeks, I’ve tried on occasion to sit at the computer–butt in chair, hands on keyboard and all that–but nothing has happened. It seemed there was little I could do to will the words from my brain out onto the screen. It was a little like trying to wring water from a dry sponge.

I was empty.

Being an aspiring author, the prospect that there were no more words inside was a little frightening. A literary suffocation.

It didn’t take me long, however, to realize the only way to fill something up with whatever it is it needs–words in the case of this writer’s mind–is to feed it what it needs. For over two years, I’ve been so focused on my own writing that I’ve neglected my reading. Oh, I read a book here or there, usually new releases by certain authors I simply can’t wait to read. But my pace of a book every 3-4 weeks (I’m a slow reader with a day job, what can I say?) had slowed dramatically. I’d been on the same book for over four months.

So I read.

In three weeks, I finished the last 300+ pages of the book I was stuck in, read another hefty fantasy book–The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie–and started A Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss. Yeah, I’m a little behind. My list of books that I’ve bought and need to read is over 25 books long.

Some people might gasp to know I haven’t even cracked A Dance With Dragons. I know, I’m ashamed. I deserve to be punished.

But in reading Abercrombie, Rothfuss, and the unnamed author in whose awesome book I’d been stalled for months, I remembered why I’ve wanted to be a writer since elementary school, and why I came to the conclusion that I had to write fantasy after reading Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World for the first time.

The sheer joy of the story. The careful selection and placement of words, and the emotions they invoke. The characters who seem more like good friends than ink on paper. The anticipation of what waits on the other side of the page. These are the reasons I’ve always wanted to be a writer, all the things that made me love being a reader.

Some successful authors will tell you they don’t read in the genre they themselves write. Others will say they read a wide range of literature. Personally, I read a fairly wide range of books, though admittedly, the vast majority is speculative fiction. Namely fantasy. It’s just what I’ve always loved reading; deciding to write it hasn’t changed that fact.

So, um, yeah. Read. That’s my advice. To anyone, but especially aspiring writers. Not every reader is a writer, but every writer was a reader first.

And you have to admit, the sheep picture is sweet.

It Really Is All About Me

I’ve been seriously living the Writing Life for six years. Six incredibly long and impossibly short years. And the whole time, every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year, I had to decide whether or not I was going to write or do something else.
artist trading card by heidi2524 You can look anywhere and to anyone to be inspired and motivated. But ultimately it comes down to what you do with the time you are given.

My passion for telling stories is the reason I write. My passion to be a New York Times Bestseller is the reason I edit. My family and friends are very supportive. They accept and (mostly) understand this is part of who I am right now.

Sometimes I don’t.

And that’s when the weakest link in my chain forms a crack.

I’ve read a lot of author blogs and interviews and talked in person to some fabulous people. At some point, from what I can tell, all authors develop a crack in their chain.

Even Neil Gaiman.

Sometime I can spot weld the crack by writing – just get some words on the page, tell myself I only need 500 words on the page, and be pleasantly surprised by the time I stop typing, that there’s over 1000 words on the page.

Sometimes I let the link break, completely, and spend hours playing a computer game. This is my down time, I’m offline, unplugged, eating cheesecake before a pizza dinner and tomorrow is a new day. When tomorrow comes, I hook the chain together with a new link and decide I’m going to write.

James A. Owen said it best in Drawing Out the Dragons

If you really want to do something, no one can stop you. But if you really don’t want to do something, no one can help you.

Pushing On Through Adversity

This is a subject I know about. Adversity. While writing is a solitary sport, life–in all of it’s insidious forms–does its best to intervene. We all have different habits. Some of us start our day exercising, dragging-butt out of bed to get the kids up and off to school, checking emails or tending horses, but eventually, we have to plant our rears in the proverbial chair and start tapping the keyboard. Procrastination is only one agent of an enemy Steven Pressfield calls RESISTANCE. No matter what form it takes–TV, internet, email, video games, movies, spouses, friends or events we wish to go to–the simple fact is if we don’t write, we’re not writers. Some writers overcome this by setting and adhering to a strict schedule. Others by bringing their laptops (or recording devices) along with them everywhere and utilizing every available moment. Either method is productive, but if you plan a “writing time” and do nothing else but type during that time, lightning is more likely to strike. Pressfield calls this “being a pro.” Being a pro everyday–as opposed to a novice or amateur, who has only their amusement at stake–is what conquers the enemy: Resistance. It’s in all of us and surrounds us in everything that tempts us and everyone we speak to.

During the last year, I’ve nearly had my 15 year marriage fall apart, a business go under, began a new business, had my laptop quit on me in the process, lost friends and found out who my true friends were. All of this strangled writing to a near-complete stop for me. It seemed everything I loved was slipping away. As I said, ADVERSITY. Then, I realized something that seems opposed to the last post: “I have to pull myself out of this”. No friends, no fellow writers, no family members or co workers could do it. I had to. That is the moment when I had to make the decision–was I going to be a writer or a wannabe writer?

I write, as many others do, because I LOVE it. I gave up on doing it for the money a long time ago. Superstars taught me the most valuable of lessons (which should have been common sense) writers don’t just write one story, they WRITE! Pressfield punctuated it with a great explanation of how sometimes the people around you will recognize that you’re winning the war with resistance and be jealous that they cannot, and thus try to thwart you–no matter what it is you’re achieving. And that vulcanized my decision.

So, I bought a new laptop.

Point is, though support is great and networking is a necessity, You are ultimately responsible for getting it done.