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A Happy Holidays kick in the pants

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have heard me mention a historical vampire novel that’s been teasing at me.  The idea hit me this summer, but I was in the middle of something else and didn’t have the time to commit to it then.  Now it’s spiraled into something truly ambitious, something I’m afraid I won’t be able to pull off.  Every author feels these fears at times, I know, but I’ve read a few books over the holidays that seem effortless, though I’m certain they weren’t, and they give me an “I’m not worthy” feeling in the pit of my stomach.  That too seems a creative universal.

But what inspired me to blog today was something I came across in the research for my new historical series, from the preface to INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL by Linda Brent (1861).  “…Since I have been in the North, it has been necessary for me to work diligently for my own support, and the education of my children.  This has not left me much leisure to make up for the loss of early opportunities to improve myself; and it has compelled me to write these pages at irregular intervals, whenever I could snatch an hour from household duties.”  What a kick in the pants.  To think that this woman, who’s been through so much and is now working harder than I can even imagine (I’ve just noted that I’m taking about her in the present tense, because she seems so immediate to me) is making the time to write her story…regardless of her situation and doubts.  It’s humbling.  I want to point everyone who’s ever said, “As soon as I find the time” toward this narrative.  We don’t “find” the time to write.  It’s not hiding behind our storage boxes or in a puzzle box at some bazaar waiting for us to unlock its secrets.  We make the time.  Nor do we write because it’s easy.  If it is, you might be doing it wrong.  Writing is a compulsion, a need, a drive.  Linda Brent says here that “I have not written my experiences in order to attract attention to myself; on the contrary, it would have been more pleasant to me to have been silent about my own history.”  She writes because she’s compelled to testify to the abominations she’s seen and survived, to evoke a response from her readers—the conviction that slavery must be abolished.  Wow.  Again, humbled.

The point is, writing is hard.  Not just logistically – finding the time and resources – but emotionally.  Writing will take you some places you don’t want to go, utilize memories and feelings you’d rather keep buried.  A good friend taught me that, dragged me kicking and screaming to the realization really.  If you’re writing because it’s fun, knock yourself out.  Writing should be fun.  Like puppies and children, it makes up for the times when you’ll be tearing your hair out and wondering why it piddled all over your carpet.  But if you never get past the pleasant, the writing as the mood strikes and not digging deep enough for the difficult scenes, hoping no one will notice the info dumps or coincidences that bog down the story, you’re not growing as a writer and you’re not really doing it for the readers, you’re doing it for yourself.  That’s fine, if that’s what you want.  But if you have a message that you want to get out, whether it’s about the intricate world of faerie you’ve created or something darker, like racism or abuse, your blood, sweat and tears have to make it onto the page.

In a way, I guess I’ve been giving myself a needed kick in the pants with this blog (and hopefully it will do something for others as well).  I need to not shy away from my new idea because it’s going to be big and ambitious, because I don’t have a writers group currently breathing down my neck to produce, because it will be HARD. 

Please excuse me, I think I need to go put on my big girl panties and deal with this.

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 1st, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
Please send me a pair of big girl panties too. Thanks for this--a reminder to listen to ourselves, write from the heart, and also to sit down and finish that book!
Jan. 2nd, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Excellent Assessment
Well said! We all need to put on our big girl panties from time to time. Using Linda Brent as an example IS humbling.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
Thanks for a much-needed kick in the pants!
It's good to get the reminder that we all go through this doubt as well. Sometimes I think I've cornered the market on self-doubt. ;)
Jan. 2nd, 2010 01:24 am (UTC)
Writing is supposed to be fun, but it's living in the words that's the hardest thing.

You get your big girl pants on, and I'll get my big boy pants on, and let's get our writing done this year.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
Sounds like a plan!
Jan. 2nd, 2010 05:13 am (UTC)
thanks. really needed to read something like that. i know the feeling of taking on something huge and ambitious and fearing you won't do it justice. i had a lot of growing up to do before i could even think about finishing my manuscript, and even now while i do revisions, i feel like i'm not going to measure up. a swift kick in the pants always helps.

big girl panties. haha. i think i need a pair, too.

best of luck with your ambitions! you'll be wonderful as always.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 01:05 am (UTC)
I always find myself saying, "I don't have time..." when it comes to writing. It's something I've been wanting to change, and this post only solidifies that. Thanks for sharing!
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 5th, 2010 11:06 am (UTC)
blood, sweat, tears...definitely tears
Big girl panties…BLAH!

I need a superhuman suit for what I need to tackle.

Problem: I fell in love with my writing.

Solution: HELP!
Cleaning up all of the literary lard from my manuscript is a daunting task. The kid gloves had to come off. Blood, sweat and tears were all involved. I liked many scenes that needed to be cut. I think my revisions are winding down and I couldn’t have done it without my superhuman suit. Removing words from the manuscript was like ripping out a piece of my soul.

Good luck to everyone.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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