One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
“Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” was his response.
“I don't know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn't matter.” – Lewis Carroll
Writing is a curious occupation. Although I suppose there are those who can pen novels, poems, songs, or scripts without any ‘soul’ investment, most of us instead take a deep breath and jump down that wondrous rabbit hole. In order to have the courage, the stamina, and the sheer will-power to keep ourselves on track we need to have a reason to write.
"The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart." ~Julien Green
Here is my suggestion:
Write to Discover Your Self.
Write to Awaken Your Heart.
Write to Engage Your Soul.
Truth is the sheer effort of completing a book can be exhausting. The process of submitting can be discouraging. The endless promotions and networking can leave you numb. This is why, no matter what anyone tells you, you must Write What You Love.
"No one remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself." ~Thomas Mann
Every writer experiences it. Whether the composition is your own version of the great novel or simply a chatty email with a close friend, there comes a moment of clarity which illuminates your soul. You discover in that flash of insight a part of your Self. A shiver of excitement and an astonished, “Well, that’s true, isn’t it?” follows.
Writing is more than a path to publication. Writing is a journey to your soul. When you invest those precious minutes and push beyond the linear constraints of your rational mind to dangle precariously within the caverns of imagination something amazing occurs. There’s really no describing it as each author has her own amazing revelation. Yet we all know how it *feels*.
"It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts." ~K.T. Jong
However, if we allow the fickle and ever-changing market to guide our path or follow the advice of a thousand other writers (including myself!) on What To Write, we may be robbing ourselves of the greatest gift of all: Self-Discovery. And ironically, it’s often those who shun the rules who then create a new market. How often are we told that agents and publishers are looking for something different? So much so that many of us type madly amidst the chunks of hair we’ve yanked out of our heads with frustration.
“Throwing away ideas too soon is like opening a package of flower seeds and then throwing them away because they're not pretty."— Arthur VanGundy, Ph.D. (Idea Power, 1992)
Self-discovery sounds very profound, doesn’t it? Yet it’s also a lovely, carefree and often silly dance. Consider for just a moment how children play. They explore all avenues with gusto and if someone advises them of the Right Way, they’ll buy into it for a time, yet then will gleefully rebel and discover their own Right Way. That’s what we need to do as writers. For some authors, this may mean investing ten years to write the next Gone With the Wind. For others, short and snappy might be just the ticket.
“Hi. I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such self help tapes as 'Smoke yourself thin' and 'Get some confidence, Stupid!'” --The Simpsons
The key is to Discover Your Path. Ready? Here are some steps to follow:
First… WRITE. (You knew that was coming, right?)
Second… Be Brave. Color outside those lines. Play in your own forbidden zone. Take every risk you can because you can always change it later. So why not leap out of the airplane?
Three… Keep Writing.
"When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target." ~~Geoffrey F. Fisher
The more sentences you carve out of your imagination, the more the pages will reflect your soul. Let yourself be excited not only by the potential of being published or hitting that best-seller list. Thirst for the revelations that will emerge as you jump down that rabbit-hole.
“I can't go back to yesterday - because I was a different person then.” ~~Lewis Carroll
Ready to take some risks? We Are Writers! Go-go-GO!!
Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between the Lines.