Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stay True to Your Vision

"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence." –Abigail Adams

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just begins
to live that day.
- Emily Dickinson

As I was reading an email digest, a comment jumped out at me. A poster offered up her opinion: agents decide whom to choose based on how serious a writer seems about their career.

Hmmm… I realized I was tuning into a theme. In a recent email, a dear friend bemoaned jokingly (or not) that the year was rushing past and she had barely taken the time to enjoy it. Another dear friend commented that she has no social life anymore. Both are writers. Like me. And I chuckled and realized they could be describing my life too.

Writing is fun. No doubt about it. Choosing to make writing your career is like deciding to give birth. You most certainly will be sacrificing sleep. Social occasions will dwindle because you just HAVE to get that chapter finished. Free time will become a lost memory. And your TBR stack will tower precariously. I recycle my magazines by bringing them to my hairdresser. It used to be a fabulous idea. Lately, it's been a wee bit embarrassing since it now takes me months to get around to finishing each one. *snort*

Yes, being an author is in some ways similar to being a parent. For with each finished manuscript, You Have Created Life. Several lives, usually. *smile* All neatly contained within the covers of your book.

"When superior people hear of the Way, they carry it out with diligence. When middling people hear of the Way, it sometimes seems to be there, sometimes not. When lesser people hear of the Way, they ridicule it greatly. If they didn't laugh at it, it wouldn't be the Way." Lao Tzu—Tao Te Ching

During the RWA convention last year, I attended the PRO retreat. A lovely writer gave a detailed presentation about self-promotion. The website, the newsletters, guest blogging, reviewers, handouts, mailings, *deep breath* freelance writing, and speaking engagements. A fellow writer leaned over and whispered in my ear, "And when, exactly, are we supposed to write?"

"Can the garden afford any thing more delightful to view than those forests of asparagus, artichokes, lettuce, pease, beans and other legumes and edulous plants so different in colour and of such various shapes, rising at it were from the dead and piercing the ground in so many thousand places as they do, courting the admiration or requiring the care of the diligent Gardiner." –Stephen Switzer, The Practical Gardener 1727

We ARE the diligent gardeners. We till the earth, fertilize the ground, plant the seeds, water the shoots, pull out the weeds (a lovely term for editing!), fertilize some more, trim, water and finally… FINALLY, it's harvest time.

Now all we have to do is gather the fruits of our labor and take it to an open marketplace. ARGH!!

"There is nothing which persevering effort and unceasing and diligent care can not accomplish." –Seneca (4 BC-65D)

"To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone - just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over...." - John Hersey

No, writing is not easy. That's why we celebrate when someone finishes even one book. Why we call writers PRO when they finish and submit a story no matter what the results. Listen up. You Are A Writer. This is not a carefree career choice. Yet you, my friend, are brave enough to make that choice. You have the strength, the passion and the determination to see this through.

For every chapter you write, celebrate. For every book you finish, take a bow. For every rejection you face without giving up, give yourself a well-deserved standing ovation. YOU ARE A WRITER. Bravo!

"What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence." –Samuel Johnson

And take heart. For the initial writing does get easier. The process of editing will go quicker. Not at first. Patience is required to learn to distinguish the weeds from the budding shoots. In time, our eyes grow keener and we can see that trimming this branch will encourage the plant to flower even more. We will sense when the fruit ripens and reach forward with fresh confidence.

Another delightful friend sported a ribbon at Nationals. You may have seen it. The ribbon says simply, Move Over Nora!

Stay true to the vision. Approach writing with diligence. Hold the thought of your published books like the promise of sunshine after the winter rains. Harvest time WILL come.

"Diligence is the mother of good luck." –Benjamin Franklin

And we shall ALL be lucky, right?

Have a wonderful writing week. Let's all remember to acknowledge our strength and our diligence and be proud of what we do. Athletes may pump iron or run a 5k, but they don't have to WRITE!! (she says with a sneer)

You know you want it. You know you have to do it. So go ahead. WRITE! Remember… We Are WRITERS!


Carol Ericson said...

Hi Chiron,

Thanks for the kick in the butt! I don't think any other career (besides acting maybe) requires you to keep practicing your craft even as the rejections pile up. Instead of looking at the pile of rejections and wondering "why," kick them up in the air and wonder "why not"?

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Oh, Carol,

I love that!! kick them up in the in air and wonder "why not?"


Thanks so much for stopping by!


Sandy said...

Hi Chiron,
Wonderful post. You just keep on reminding us, We Are Writers.


Chiron O'Keefe said...

Thanks, Sandy!

Yes, We Are Writers...

We will think it, live it, breathe it, until our hearts beat in time with our fingers tap-tap-tapping on the keys.