Sunday, July 5, 2009

You're Either In or You're Out

"There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either in or out. There's no such thing as a life in-between."Pat Riley

I've been thinking quite a bit about commitment. Maybe because, like most writers, there are days when I feel I'm surely ready for that padded room! Hah!

Yet the idea of commitment is one that I've danced around, perhaps like many here. On a good day, I'm there. I *get* it. I believe. Then the clouds roll in and the raindrops pour down my cheeks as I wonder if I'm truly cut out to be A Writer.

In or out, woman. There's no in-between.

To me, that's what marks a true writer. A friend once said to me (paraphrasing here), that Real Writers stick to it.

"Success depends on your backbone, not your wishbone." –Author Unknown

I've had my share of doubts. I hit my slump and wondered… Did I have the Right Stuff to make magic happen on the printed page? Did I have the *eye* to clarify my vision? Hell, did I really have a vision to begin with or is this just a fanciful dream? Horrors! Had I become one of those people who sneer, "I could write a book easy," only to toss my dream aside out of fear or insecurity?


"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." --Eddie Robinson

There are a number of people who helped push me past that wall. Some offered support at my request, others unknowingly brought forth a wisdom that radiated like moonbeams, chasing away shadows and illuminating my darkest night. Thanks to the writers I am privileged to know, I reconnected with my will to win—the urge to reach my full potential. *smile*

I also realized (thanks, Misty) that hitting a wall may just be part of the process. Which is exactly why a writer needs to commit. This is as much a relationship as the one I share with my husband. For better or worse, sickness and health, richer or poorer…

"Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write." --Elie Wiesel

My friend Tessy is an incredible example of one who cannot live without writing. Listening to her tickled the memory of what drove me to the keyboard so long ago. My thirst to create worlds. Ah-ha! Take that you pesky ideas rolling around my brain. Let's toss you onto the page and see where we shall fly.

"So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!"J. M. Barrie (from Peter Pan)

Commitment is what marks us as writers. Writing requires time, effort, focus and a great deal of faith. We're like explorers crawling into a cave with nothing but the wavering beam of a flashlight to light our way. Without faith, we might turn back. Without persistence, we might give up. Which is exactly why writers need to commit: to writing that sentence, to filling up the page, to finishing the chapter, to wrapping up the book.

And of course, that's just the beginning! Re-read and revise. Cut some scenes, flesh out others. Yet… the joy of it. Ah, the tingling rush of pleasure as the eye follows the plot. This is magic of the best sort.

Did you know that scans have shown that our brains respond to imagined circumstances just as if they were real? When we write stories, and others read them, well… We are creating worlds here, my friends. This is True Magic.

Which is why…

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end."Ursula K. LeGuin

Let's recommit to our journey and relish the spectacular joy of writing!


"It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write." ~Sinclair Lewis

And that about sums it up.

This week let's make a conscious decision to commit to our writing. Do you, budding author, take this profession to love and to write?

Let's do it, let's fall in love all over again!

Remember, We Are Writers. And what do writers do? They WRITE. So let's Go-go-GO!

Have a great writing week, everyone!

--Chiron O'Keefe

Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between The Lines.


Sandy said...


Much better writers than I have quit. It's usually because getting to their goal of publication is not going the way they want it, too. Sometimes, we listen and follow, and other times we make a stand. I always listen to my head when I make the choice. The one with the most knowledge wins out.

A good post, Chiron.


Chiron said...

Hi Sandy,

Some writers quit when the rejections pile up. It's true. Writing and seeking publication are two paths, both of which require commitment.

I'm not sure what you mean by listen and following or making a stand. I do know listening is always a great idea. A great NY Times Bestselling author, Sherryl Woods, was a mentor to me for a time. Her advice has stuck with me for years--stay true to your heart.

Allison Brennan advises the same. So does agent Jessica Faust.

What kind of choices are you referring to? I'm sorry that I'm not quite understanding what you're trying to say. You said, you always listen to your head when you make the choice and the one with the most knowledge wins out. How many heads do you have? *grin* Just teasing!!

Truly, the decision of whether a person wants to be a writer and to keep writing can only be made by one person--the writer herself.

The path to publication is another story. So to speak. And quite possibly another blog. *wink*

Thanks for stopping by, Sandy!


Kate said...

What a great blog, Chiron! Thank you for the boost! Greatly needed and appreciated.

I've been MIA for a while (hibernating in lurk mode so as not to frighten the skittish muse, argh) but I read your essays every week here - they are always inspiring, and this is one of my favorites ever! Thank you :)

Chiron said...

Hi Kate!

Thanks so much! Wow, I really relate to the skittish muse. Sometimes you have to sneak up on her or lure to dance in your story with the promise of chocolate. *grin*

I really appreciate you stopping by!


Donna Caubarreaux said...

Excellent post Chiron.

There was a line of dialogue in Flashdance that spoke to me at the time and still does..."If you give up your dreams, you die."

And it's true. How many people have always wondered if they could have 'made' it as a singer, dancer, artist, writer, whatever. But quit. I know that they have to have regrets later on in life.

I came to writing late, there was family to raise, a business to run, obligations that to me were the most important at the time.

I always knew that 'my time' would come, and I'm doing it now. I'll keep at it until I can't make it to the computer anymore. Every year I do doubt if I should continue, but I get over it. What else would I do in my spare time?

Chiron said...

Hi Donna!

You're so right. More people regret what they never tried to accomplish. As the saying goes, 'Try and you may succeed. Don't try and you're assured of failure.'

Here's to all of us who are determined to stand by our dreams, coaxing our selves forward in every way we can. *grin*

Thanks for stopping by and sharing that fabulous quote!!


Miss Mae said...

You are soooo good, Chiron. I don't know how you keep puttin' 'em out. :)

Linda LaRoque said...

Hi Chiron,

I love the comment "hitting the wall is part of the process." So, I guess bouncing back or breaking through is a sign of commitment.

Wonderful post as always. I must get back to butting against that wall. (grin)


Di said...

Just what I needed to hear. Thanks for this blog.

Di said...

Great post. Thanks for the blog.

Chiron said...

Aw, Miss Mae... You're a treasure!

Big smiles,

Chiron said...

Hi Linda!

Yup, my wall has many dents from my own stubborn head. *laughs* Just this week, I bounced against it a few times until my writing vision cleared up. *grin*

Happy writing, my dear!


Chiron said...

Hello Di!

Wonderful to *meet* you! Thanks so much. I'm so glad the essay rang true for you.

Hope to *see* you again soon!


Joy Filipovic said...

Hi Chiron,
Your words are just what I needed at this moment. I'm now embarking on my first dream project-a fiction novel. After wrapping up a non-fiction book on teaching ESL to young children which is currently with the publisher, I thought of venturing into something that I'd like to do for a long time- to write a chicklit novel. The thing is, I couldn't muster any courage to start this as I feel ambivalent and inadequate. Yes, inspite of my occasional feature article contributions to an online newspaper and a romance short story attempt that was recognized by a contest, I still feel that I don't have what it takes to be a writer.

Your posting is very encouraging. I really hope you could post some sites where aspiring novelists like me could gain some more encouragements, join email loops, or basically just to have a venue for us to rant about our recent rejections. After all, we all want to have somebody to commiserate with us, right?

Thank you once again for inspiring us.


Chiron said...

Hello Joy!

Thanks so much for your kind words! Congrats on your non-fiction release and a hearty Good For You on having the courage to make your dream come true. Yay!

I've dropped you a line and I'll be sending you some info.

Good luck with your writing! Thanks so much for visiting...


Chiron said...

Joy, I forgot to add, there are some Writer Resources on the side panel. I pushed it up to make it easier to find.

Also, you might check out some of the blogs, just to see if anything works for you!

Wishing you much success and inspiration, my dear!