Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It’s Not the B-Word, But You Can Get There From Here

I hate to think bad thoughts. Really. I'm all unicorn and rainbow thoughts every chance I get, but I’ve been dabbling in something, or maybe I just stepped in something and I’m tracking it everywhere I go. But it’s writing related, so here’s the place to march right in and deal with it.

As some of you know, I got focused on my writing April 1, 2008. I don’t take days off from writing (haven’t in more than two years), mostly because I love to write, even just a little bit every day. My daily writing is the proof that I am moving toward on my goals. And usually, my writing comes easily.

One thing that you should know about me to understand my issue is that I have a great memory. Not all the time. And not about everything. But mostly, I remember almost everything (unless I’m under stress... which explains why I can’t find the “safe place” where I put my external hard drive just before my vacation). I remember people I waited on when I worked at a restaurant during college (not everyone of course, but many... and where they sat and the stories they told). I remember strange little moments from years ago with sense memories so rich, the moments seem like they happened yesterday.

And the most prominent place I remember things is in words, written or spoken. I can quote (or closely paraphrase) conversations from years ago (and entire movies, songs... including It's the End of the World as We Know It by REM).

Memory is a blessing and a curse. I have many friends with less acute memories whom I envy a little for the cloud that protects them from being able to step back into wounds with just a thought. My memory makes getting over things harder, because there is no haze between me and hurtful words and events.

Now, back to my writing issue: feedback. Every word written about the story I am marketing plays through my mind, the good things and the things to work on, all graciously shared by stellar agents. I’m so grateful for their help and I want more, but I’m finding myself tripping over their comments as I write, doubting the words that flow from me for the first time. I can still write and we’re not talking about the B-word (You know... don’t make me say it. Okay, I’ll give you a hint: Writer’s B****.)

(For the sake of the rest of this post and to honor my belief in not saying the thing that shall not be named, we will call the B-word, Writer’s Elbow. There, problem solved.)

So, I don’t have writer’s elbow, but I can see how this new doubt in myself could become writer’s elbow. Maybe that’s how it starts for everyone. Other voices renting out space in our story-telling minds, and suddenly, we frighten away our connection to the source of all stories. Well, I need to nip this in the bud. I may have writer’s knuckle now, but I just can’t risk it getting worse.

I have a plan. It’s called Bringing The Fun Back In. And this is how it works. I write every day because it is my time in the sandbox, my playtime with crayons, and my time to ride a tire swing back and forth on a perfect day (with absolutely no mosquitos). Writing is recess, and that can’t happen with well meaning, but grown-up voices in my head. So, I’m on a mission to reconnect with the fun. To light my candles and write in the dark. To sing too loud (the dogs don’t mind my Faith Hill sing-a-longs). Anything and everything that makes me smile.

I’ve only been on this mission for a couple days, and I can already see the progress. Fiction is a gift again. Stories readily skipping from my mind to my fingers are blessings. And the force within that keeps me going, well that’s just priceless.

Rejections; feedback; hey, even offers of representation and book deals will come, but what matters in the end is the simple connection that allows a story to first be told. I can only imagine that once agents and book deals are in place, it is even easier to allow other voices into the writing process. So, I guess learning how to protect the sacred is best accomplished now, when it really is just me and my story.

Quote for the Day from Winnie the Pooh

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon”


ben said...

Well if you need to get your mind on a different form of writing you can always help me on a screen play. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Feedback from talented & knowledgeable people is a joy - but it can have that downside too. It's hard to know what & how to incorporate. Let it filter for a while.

Glad to hear you've found the joy again though - there's nothing more important!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Genius, that's what this post is. Great job. I'm reminded again why we are so deeply connected.

Kasie West said...

Love it. You know, you're my second writer friend who has mentioned bringing the fun back to writing this week. Maybe we all just need to sit back and remember why we started writing in the first place--because it makes us happy. Thanks for this post. I needed it.