One just needs to be disciplined. Anyone can blog, too. I don’t want you to think that I am doing something super difficult. You just have to commit to doing it! If you want to write or blog, you can! I support your decision just as so many of you encouraged me last night on Facebook. Thank you to all of you who enthusiastically received my first blog. I thought it was great that I could share it with my friends and family. You were all so supportive, and I truly appreciate it. Yet, according to Brenda Ueland, author of If You Want to Write, A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, anyone can write, and we all have a unique story to tell. Do you want to hear how I derived the courage to begin this blog? If you just said no, sorry! The question was rhetorical, so here I go.
I started my novel 10 years ago, and mind you, I didn’t set out to be the next Harper Lee. No, I simply love Chicklit, and after reading my beloved Sophia Kinsella’s novel, Can You Keep a Secret?, I felt this sensation in my gut telling me that I could do this. So, I grabbed my computer and just started writing. No outline. No path. I just got in the creative flow and let it take me. I soon discovered that I loved writing in this genre. I would reread what I had written and laugh out loud.
I was so enamored with myself and what I had initially created, I allowed my sisters, my niece, and my best friend to read the beginning. Yes, I encouraged them to be brutally honest, but inwardly, I was so nervous to hear their true reactions to the scenes I had created. To my pleasure and astonishment, they all said they loved my heroine, Nora Donovan, and her wacky adventures– and they wanted to read more! The immediate problem that faced me was I didn’t have any more.
Now, you would think this would have given me more impetus to write, but it didn’t. It caused me to do the exact the opposite. I began to put all sorts of pressure on myself, and started reading books on the craft of writing. Unfortunately, that was all I was doing. My inner fear became a barrier between me and my story. The critic came out in full force, and she started jabbing me in the chest. I stopped writing for my own pleasure, and I couldn’t bring myself back to my novel.
I’ll admit, my house was never cleaner; I spent the majority of my weekends mopping my kitchen floor and cleaning every bathroom instead of writing; as a result, my family was continuously sick; the germs had to find someplace new to live and prosper, and they jumped down their throats. By the time I but the Lysol away, the afternoon would be dying, and I’d tell myself I would write tomorrow.
Well guess what; each missed tomorrow added up to 10 years! Yeah, sure, I gave myself many outs: I needed to clean my house, right? I am a wife and a mother after all. Oh, and lump on top of that my full-time job as an English teacher. Really? After a full day of teaching eighth graders how to write, who in her right mind is going to go home and tackle her own writing? Uh, plenty of people, Jayne, but unfortunately you chose not to be one of them!
So here’s the thing. Try not to judge me, but last summer, I went to a medium. I know it seems that I am meandering off topic, but I bet you can guess what I asked her. Yup, I asked her if I would ever publish, and she said, “Uh, Yes… but not the way you expect.”
For a moment I pondered what that phrase really meant, but I was excited that there was a strong chance that my writing intention would find its way into the universe, the stars would align, and by gum, by golly, I would publish.
At this point, are you expecting me to tell you that this information got me back to writing? Uh, it sort of did, but very intermittently. I’d devote some time to it here and there on a weekend or a vacation–when I wasn’t vacuuming– but I was stuck for sure. I began to worry that I liked the idea of being a writer far more than actually being one! At the rate I was going, I might need to hire a ghost writer to write my novel for me!
As this summer approached, I decided I was not going to practice another summer of avoidance. I admonished myself: Everyone is busy; however, if one wants to write, he/she will surely figure out a plan.
Therefore, I decided to stop being a pantser. This is someone who doesn’t outline and merely writes as she flies by the seat of her pants. This is a right brain trait, and an author of this type focuses on characters more than plot. However, this type of writer–me–tends to write a lot of superfluous stuff because he/she doesn’t have the full story mapped out; instead he/she allows the character(s) to dictate where the story goes. Thus, I decided I would need to be a plotter. I couldn’t afford to lose any more time, and decided I could accomplish far more if I did what the left brain people do and formulate an outline of my novel. It was time to be sensible.
I had already written 249 pages, and I knew I would need to go back and figure out what vital pieces needed to be deleted or added. So I did just this, using the book, First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner. I followed the day-by-day instructions and started analyzing my book so far. As helpful as the book was, it still didn’t stimulate me to continue with my novel. I did character and setting sketches, outlined the important elements of the structure, but I couldn’t bring myself to fire up the computer and joyfully pick up where I had left off. I was out of the flow; I had lost my muse, my bliss, my way!
Realizing I had a major problem, and I was the one standing firmly in my own way, I knew I needed spiritual guidance. As Julia Cameron states in her book, The Artist’s Way, I was reminded that “everyone has a dial to God. No one needs to go through an operator.” So, to God I went.
Look for my next blog on Friday, and I’ll tell you how God showed me it was time for me to be writing upside down! I promise it will be shorter, too!