Artist Marie-Lydie JoffrePastels paintings and sculptures art collections
We guard it jealously like a threatened lover.
We steal bits of it in strange places.
We lose all sense of reality and dwell inside it as if nothing else on earth exists.
Sounds like I’m talking about sex.
For writers, that time you get for real, hardcore writing is pretty close to it on the list of desired things. When we don’t find or better yet, make, the time, we get cranky and restless. It can easily turn into this craving — a drug.
An author in one of my writer’s organizations asked yesterday if additional computer time is used to write blogs or if we use actual manuscript time. I smiled because it almost sounded as if she felt blog writers are being unfaithful by squandering sacred manuscript time. She didn’t mean it that way exactly– I’m just still going along with the sex metaphor here. (G)
But like most of us, she cringed at the thought of less manuscript time. We need that time like we need se… er, air. It’s not only a way to make a living for a lot of us, but it’s also a kind of fix.
The high I get from writing is a different sort of high, of course, but it’s one I both crave and even sometimes avoid. Try explaining that to a non-writer and watch muddy confusion cross their face.
Why do we sometimes avoid something we love and need so much? Lots of reasons. For me, it used to be that frightening sense of lost time. I focus with such intensity, I lose track of the world around me. I’m in a busy time of my husband and children’s lives and keeping up is difficult when all you want to do is disappear in your fictional world. I found it easier to not try.
Sometimes it can be an avoidance of a particularly difficult scene. You know it’ll make you cry and well, the sun is shining and you feel good– maybe you don’t feel like crying that day.
But sometimes, we realized these things are merely excuses and the truth is we can’t find our confidence –we’ve let self-doubt convince us that it just isn’t in the cards.
I’ve done all these things. The stuff I used to write is pretty bad. I began to think I wasn’t capable of better. I quit believing I could make things better.
I was naive.
We can all learn to be better writers. All it really takes is something infinitely simple.
My very good friend, Deborah Bouziden took me aside at the last conference. She’d made me this magical inspirational gift. It’s a wooden box with a glass front. Inside is a huge, medieval looking key , a metal book front which says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” a scroll, tiny books, my name and the words, “Remember Courage.”
I cried when she gave it to me because she took the time to make this, to care, but also because belief in my abilities as a writer was missing for many years. I may have been writing, but I wasn’t taking it or myself seriously. I was miserable.
Deb knows this. She also believes in me. She made this beautiful gift so I could set it by my computer and be reminded every time I sit down at this computer, that I do have the key to success. I just have to believe in myself.
I’m a different writer than I was before. Uh, yay. (G) I’m not saying I’m perfect. One thing maturity has brought is the realization that perfection is not only impossible but silly.
Flaws are so much more interesting.
But I have realized that being a writer isn’t something I can change, give up or squander. I find the time. I make it.
I inhale it and wallow in it until I’m gloriously sated.