The other day when I had time I could be writing, I was ironing. Now, let the reader understand that I iron about once a year. The other times, the ironing board stands ready in my bedroom, decorating it's area in front of the bookshelf with teal and white chevron and collecting dust bunnies at it's feet. As I was ironing, I was thinking about, no actually almost dreading, writing. “What if my story doesn't ever come together? How can I end this story? What other new ideas could I have?” I pressed harder and harder into the collars.
I 'officially' became a writer, in my mind, when a magazine published three of my articles. “Once I have three” I thought, “I'll set up a website.” Web design was not in my deck of skills, so I hired a friend to do it. She read what I said about myself and she had to draw it out because I wasn't budging. I couldn't bring myself to officially say that I was a children's writer without her saying that's what it needed to say. Finally, I agreed.
Now, with the start of school and all my babies started up again, things have calmed down around here, except in my mind. In the past, I could always say I wasn't working on writing or drawing because I was keeping toddlers alive, or serving at our church, or planning to have 16 people at my house for a three day Thanksmas extravaganza. But this year, I'm not committed to any of those things. And, although the school is always asking for volunteers, I know that would derail my sanity as it would wear this introvert out beyond belief.
This year, my heart is saying “It's time.” Someone advised me to view this coming school year as time to develop myself even more as a writer. Others have heard my 'no's' graciously as they asked me to do other things, some of the housework is divied out to my school-age kids, and my husband is okay with me working more on writing and drawing.
In fact, it seems that everyone is fine with giving me permission to work on on these skills except....myself. I'm not sure why, exactly. Maybe I'm not sure I'm good enough (how will I get better if I don't even try?), maybe I worry that I just won't have any ideas, or maybe I am afraid I will work and work and will never have anything else accepted. Like a bad dream where you are running, but you never go anywhere.
But, my heart wants to try so my mind is going to have to follow suit. If I want to become more of a writer, I need to know what it means to be one. So, I awoke at 2:45am last night, thinking about the quirks of a writer—this lonely profession that usually no one has asked us to do.
+Writers wake up in the middle of the night with inspiration. You need to have a notebook and pen at hand.
+Writers say 'no' to things that don't fit their skill set
+Writers get new ideas by going for walks and talking out loud to themselves
+Writers have no clock to clock in or out with. Which means they have to and get to budget their own time.
+Writers, when they have a looming deadline, see dirty windows, grimy sinks, and plastic containers that need organized
+Writers sometimes work on something for two weeks or longer and then throw it all out. Even Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes talks about doing this in The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book.
+Writers work alone but can also meet with other writers to help give clarity, direction, and camraderie
+Writers go to conferences and learn things about writing
+Writers are often insecure about their talents, or at least start out that way
+Writers think outside the box
+Writers delegate others to help with housework or other things they don't care to do
+Writers stand up under criticism and don't live to please others
+Writers have to set boundaries to perserve their sanity
+Writers can have inspiration strike and they forget to eat or let the laundry pile up to Mt. Everest size
+Writers can have pages of words that feel like a magnum opus until they are read aloud to aforementioed critique groud or a family member. At which point, they hear all the errors and the ending isn't right and the voice is all wrong and....
+Writers start over and make changes. Again. And again. And again.
+Writers graciously take criticism from people who love them and want the best for them, even if they're crying inside
+Writers learn how to sandwich critiques in the “good-work on- good” format so that critiques start and end with positive things
+Writers work on a new story or idea once one is published. They stop to be happy and then it's off to the next idea. Or, if an idea just isn't coming, they set it aside and work on something else.
+Writers can be creative in other ways if words just aren't coming—like by drawing, playing an instrument, taking pictures, etc.
+Writers write using all five senses, having the character grow and change and learn something by the end of the story.
+Writers hope some day to become authors so they can dedicate their books to someone and they can travel around doing school shows and signing books with their golden pens
+Writers just make themselves write. Even if it's not good. But, they keep on going and trying.
Which, of course, is what I'll be doing, unless of course, I'm ironing. Then, feel free to come and remind me to keep on working.
So--what does being a writer mean to you? Post a comment and share your thoughts.
"If Mama's not happy, no one's happy!" What Brings You Happiness is a blog designed to encourage you to take better care of yourself so you can take better care of others. Click on the categories below to find how I've dealt with various situations in light of who I am.