Saturday, October 10, 2009

Don't Forget the Joy

Writing used to be fun. It used to be exciting. It used to be... mine.

I can't remember ever NOT wanting to be a writer. As soon as I had mastered the art of making big, soft shiny gray letters on paper, I began to fill my Big Chief Tablet with plays and poems and short stories and comedy pieces. In Mrs. Jackson's third grade class in Sherman, Texas, the boy who sat in front of me read one and said "Why do you do that? Nobody is going to read it."

I had met my first critic. And it didn't deter me. I wrote in middle school and high school and college, took a break to marry and start my family and when I had kids that needed a mom at home, I began again. My hubby used his first ever Christmas bonus to buy me an electric typewriter and the first thing I ever submitted was read by a real, live editor! She rejected it and that began a long line of rejections before I sold. I'd like to say after I sold that it got easier, that I had more of a sense of knowing what to do to get the sure sale, the great review, to make a list, to get the next offer.

But it was the not knowing that was the fun of it all. The challenge to keep learning, to keep asking more of myself, to make every day writing a new discovery.

Somewhere along the way, I lost that.
What happened?

It's tempting to lay the blame on writing becoming work. To say the demands of the market and issues with editors smothered my creative spark. I WANTED to believe that. In fact, I made some major changes in my career based on that very presumption.
I left my agent of 14 years (amicable, I still love her). I made up my mind never write for a certain house again. I dropped many of my professional obligations (clubs, lists, orgs). I began submitting to new agents.

None of that had the effect I had so longed for. I still felt panicked and anxious and stupid when I sat down to write. And it showed in every word.

I was ready to give up.

Then a few things happened - my dear friend Beth Harbison (read her books - Hope in a Jar out now) told me she couldn't get a certain story out of her head and I went back and looked at some of the pieces I had abandoned because they didn't fit the market of the moment. And I found out that back before I realized how difficult/scary/unprofitable it can be to be an AUTHOR that I was/am a pretty good writer.

I also began working in sales and marketing for Ram Jack of Lousville (foundation repair) where I was author and editor and chief distributor or all materials (you should see my nifty brochure for promoting our services to Realtors;)).

And thanks to another dear friend, Stephanie Bond (the Body Movers mystery series currently available) and watching her get mad and get moving at a time when most people would have caved in and lost hope, I began to rebuild a strategy for my writing career.

I also sold a Christmas romance that I REALLY love (I have one out Nov 1, btw, a novella called The Holiday Husband in Blessings of the Season from Steeple Hill - you can find it everywhere) because my sweet editor, Emily Rodmell, reminded me to put the romance first.

What wonderful advice from these amazing women.
Don't forget what you can do when you don't worry about how hard it should be.
When things don't go the way you planned, make new plans.
Put the romance first. Be it in life or in writing. Find the thing you love, find the thing worth fighting for and working toward, the thing that makes you better and don't lose sight of it.

Write. Love. Fly.

You can do it.