Sunday, January 17, 2010

Are You A 'Real Writer'?

Motivational Essay 1-18-10

"Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death." ~Betty Bender

Now that the holidays and my 'musical vacation' is over, my WIP is staring me in the face. Sometimes, I swear a book-in-progress is as elusive as the fireflies my younger self chased on many a sizzling summer's eve. The novel, though, can be more daunting than that wispy insect fluttering its wings. Sometimes it's more akin to chasing a bear with nothing but a glass jar in hand. When the fearsome beast swivels about and bellows a mighty roar, we come face to face with our secret terror—that we aren't *gasp* Real Writers.

'Real Writers' don't feel fear and don't panic at deadlines. 'Real Writers' have an abundance of ideas and can easily whip up a complete series in the time it takes to sneeze. 'Real Writers' never lose their train of thought or wonder if their idea is just plain stupid. 'Real Writers' Are Perfect, Therefore I'm Not A Real…

Okay, hold it right there, Sister. Are you serious?

Unfortunately, I am. My guess is 99% of all the writers in the world wonder, worry, and panic at least part of the time. The only thing that distinguishes a 'Real Writer' is whether you (despite the terror quaking in your limbs) plop your butt into whatever chair currently holds your posterior's impression, plant your trembling fingers on the keyboard and Do It Anyway.

Well, do you? Because if so, then take heart, my friend. You ARE a 'real writer'.

"Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow." ~Dan Rather

"Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." ~Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

As one of my favorite quotes states: It is easy to be brave from a safe distance. ~Aesop

It's easy to say, "I can write a book." The doing is a whole different story, so to speak. This morning, as my eyes pored over the revisions accomplished the day before, pleasure soared through me. Yeah, baby, we're back! Up until the moment when I pulled up The Blank Page for the new scene I needed to write. As often happens, the void terrified me. What if I couldn't come up with the next scene? Or the worst fear—what if it really, truly sucks???


"Courage can't see around corners, but goes around them anyway." ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Well, Chiron, my dear, it might. The stink from your crappy writing might be so appalling you'll choke on the fumes. BUT, that's exactly why The Great Goddess of Writing created the miraculous ability to rewrite. Just sketch out a vague idea in your handy "Free-Write" document, then write the damn scene!

"Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway." ~John Wayne

"Every writer I know has trouble writing." ~Joseph Heller

Courage comes in many forms. For some, it's required just to dodge past the inner critic who's frowning before you type the first word. Others can dash out sentence after sentence with the glee of a bluebird swooping in flight—until the need to revise appears like a brick wall. Bam!

During those moments of quiet panic, do yourself a favor. First, remind yourself that You Are Not Alone. Realize that your favorite author, the one whose book inspired a belief that You Too could compose a novel, most likely sweated through more than a few days and nights of nerve-wracking trepidation as well.

"I am filled with doubts. Why isn't Steinbeck filled with doubts? I think he's had one lousy day of doubt throughout the time of East of Eden. Is it because he has so many outside interests? Probably. I have so few. I've never been a hobby person, and when I start working on a project, all I can think of is finishing the damn thing. And there's Steinbeck, building desks, carving oars for his sons, buying a boat, decorating his little house in New York. Should a future Nobel Laureate have a little more angst? I'd certainly appreciate it."Write Away by Elizabeth George.

Next remember that, just as Ambrose Redmoon said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."

Elizabeth George struggled with self-doubt, but like every successful author, she moved forward anyway. It does get easier. Some may reach the point where they feel no doubt, no fear, no trembling of fingers, no lurching nausea roiling in the gut. Others may quake the first time they peck out a sentence and experience a similar panic throughout every book. What gets easier is the ability to push onward despite the fear.

"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties." -- Bonnie Friedman

And remember:

"We conquer, not in any brilliant fashion, we conquer by continuing." --- George Matheson

Tell me, how often do you struggle with fear or self-doubt? What methods do you employ to move forward?

As always, wishing everyone a productive week bursting with inspiration!

--Chiron O'Keefe

Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between the Lines.


Anonymous said...

When I fear the most is after a fabulous day of writing. The fear is - can I do it again tomorrow? :)

Great post, as always. Carry on, dear writing sister!

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Chiron said...

I hear you, Kathy! That's a big one. Hmmm... I do that when it's essay time too, wondering if I have just one more in me! *snort*

Thanks, so much, fellow Diva, for stopping by!!


Miss Mae said...

Well, I don't know about the fear, but the self-doubt is there. I look at my writing, look at someone else's whose prose is so lovely, and fitting, and flowing, and mine looks like it's been whetted with a dull chain saw!

Love your posts, Chiron. They REALLY help so much! :)

Celia Yeary said...

CHIRON--here we are again--doubting ourselves. However, I have been on a more secure roll for a while, so I'll store up your knowledge and wise words for another day. Believe, me, I will need it! Thanks, friend. Celia

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Chiron said...

Oh, Miss Mae! "...mine looks like it's been whetted with a dull chain saw!" *snort* And here you are disproving your own assumption by coming up with a classic description.

(Starts Chain Saw) Bzzzzzzzzzzzz!!

I love it!!

You know, everytime I read a really good book, I feel simultaneously inspired and intimidated. *laughs* Just finished Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips with the tag line: The sweeping romance that launched her career. OMG!! I about fainted.

BUT, I was also inspired, thinking, Damn, if she can do it, so can I! Just last night I had a lovely dream where one of my publishing goals had come true. What fun!! So now I say, Let's Make Our Dreams Come True! And trust me, my fabulously talented friend, if anyone can soar to the top, it is YOU. :-D

Thanks for visiting!!


Chiron said...

Celia, I'm so pleased to hear you are feeling strong and confident. YES!!

You should too, since your writing always knocks me for a loop. I'm still hoping that along with your fiction, you'll tackle a memoir. The glimpses into your personal history always keep me riveted!

Keep the faith, you wonderful writer you, and keep writing!