Seven life lessons from writing

  1. “When I have more time” is  a myth. There will never be more time. We all get 24/7/365. (Until we don’t. No one’s window is getting bigger, y’all.) I have this moment, this breath, this opportunity to create, to laugh, to love.
  2. When inspiration hits I’ll really make this happen. Inspiration is beautiful. Inspiration is motivating. But sometimes, I just have to roll up my sleeves and do the work and trust that the inspiration shows up. Sometimes, inspiration slips in and surprises me while I’m not looking. But panic can be motivating too, so invite them both to sit with you when you need them.
  3. Insecurity and self-doubt are relentless antagonists. Oh, dear ones, if only we could make these two go away. “Who are you to write this story?” they whisper. “Who are you to have this much joy in your life?” they nag. “Who are you?”  Don’t let them get away with it! Who are you not to??
  4. The passion is real. Even the people who really really believe in you can’t comprehend the depth of your obessions. We love what we love. We need what we need. I need to write. My passion for the story is as real and immense as the giant old live oak outside my window; it’s a thing, and it’s mine to nurture and cultivate and love.
  5. The pain is immense. Even the people who really really love you can’t make the rejections not hurt. And oh, how they hurt. Rejections from publishers, rejections from anyone – they hurt. It’s part of the price of giving ourselves to the world. But the beautiful power of giving ourselves will always be greater than the pain of rejection. Give yourself to the world no matter what.
  6. There’s more to it than you know. It’s essential to have other demands and activities. Walking the dog, volunteering at the shelter, folding the laundry – the mundane things are also beautiful and essential parts of your life.  Sometimes scrubbing the bathroom is exactly the diversion you need. Trust me on this.
  7. It’s not about making a living; it’s about making a life. My lovely and wise agent, Marly Rusoff, says, “Writing is a terrible way to make a living, but a wonderful way to make a life.” She’s so right. Whatever I do, I want it to be about making a life. And celebrating life, and sharing life, and living life.
Writing has taught me so much about life. In this season of gratitude, I give thanks. Grateful love, all.

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  1. Perhaps it’s because writing—in the sense of putting words to paper—is something everyone can do, something we’re taught how to do from the get-go, is why writing—in the sense of putting stories to paper—is kinda looked down upon, seen as something much easier and simpler than it actually is. “I’m going to take a month off and write that book about my hiking through Europe.” And maybe it’s this same perception that exacerbates the struggle and frustration of penning our stories. “Guess I’m not cut out for this. It shouldn’t be this hard.” “Writing” and “writing.” Same words, and some overlap in meaning; but oy vey, such very different critters.

    Hemingway: I wrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.
    Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
    Hemingway: Getting the words right.

    Paraphrasing Red Smith and others, Writing is easy; just sit down and open a vein.

    As it is with any other art, writing is neither simple nor easy. And as with anything else that matters, writing requires dedication, persistence, tenacity, and trust in both yourself and the process.

    We never have more time; the clock continues ticking time away from us. The only time we have is the time that’s smack dab in front of us. As for inspiration, it’s much more something we come to than something that comes to us. If you’re wanting to see or talk to a beloved, you don’t wait for their knock, their call; you get up and go to their door, go to the phone. And you continue doing so until the two of you come together.

    For some bizarre reason, we believe the negative, moreso than the positive, about ourselves, glomming onto it, refusing to let it leave our grasp, leave our sight. Showing your writing to another, just like showing anything of yourself, is an act of vulnerability. How the person responds is crucial. One’s skin can only be so thick. You can separate who you are only just so far from your work.

    Writing’s not about making a living; it’s about, simply, living.

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