"How do you get started with your writing and keep going with it? I've tried but always end up quitting?"
Tonight, I was catching up with my beloved Facebook Family and up-dating my author fan page, when I noticed a new e-mail in my in-box. The above question awaited me from a lovely friend.
Immediate and heart-felt, it spoke to my soul. I couldn't move on to other tasks I'd set for myself on this peaceful Saturday night. A quiet resolve softly encouraged me to answer it right then. And, with a bit of editing, this is my response...
I got started in the business of writing at my mother's feet, as she read to my siblings and me nightly before we bathed and went to bed. A reading mother, she adored books. Perhaps it stemmed from her love and respect of school. She was Miss Tennessee State and an excellent student throughout her schooling.
Under the music of her voice bringing my favorite stories to life, I was imblued with a passion to write my own stories to satisfy my soul's desire to weave a yarn that tickled my fancy. So I put pencil to notebook and came up with female heroines who did what I wanted to do...travel the world, love deeply, stand and fight (if need be), and bow to a greater power in the Divine.
Not only that, while writing juvenile stories I recorded in spiral notebooks, I learned to tell a good story, feeling the ebb and flow of an intriguing tale, with nuances of sound and gestures to match. My audience, my cousins and siblings, sat around my grandparents' fireplaces and heaters, enthralled, their faces glowing. Oftentimes, they begged me to continue the storytelling, one night after another.
Years later, while teaching high school English and raising a family, I continued to write...only it trickled into the summertime. Thus, I lived for Friday evening, so that I could immerse myself in novel writing. My first novel, "Dolly: The Memoirs of a High Schoool Graduate," appeared in 1986. I was charmed. How did it happen? I'd sent a short story to PLAYERS magazine and the editor loved it, asking me if I could make the main character live throughout 250 more pages. If so, he'd publish it. Turn to his word, he helped me publish it via Holloway House Publishing Company in Los Angeles!
Then it seemed my writing time waned and became harder and harder to come by. My soul wept. But I persisted. It was a sweet persistence that carried me through the up's and down's of my life at that time. The more difficult times got, a shift appeared in my writing. Poetry stepped in and picked up where novel writing could not go, when I moved through divorce. Poems were immediate. They snapped pictures of my inner landscape. They gave me to myself. I like to say poetry saved me. Welding a melodic pen and performing at Atlanta's open mics, I wrote myself out of the closet of my life. The bulk of these poems I now cull and record to create my coming Spokenword CD/poetry collection, "Soft Tsunami."
Newly single, I returned to the marriage of Claudia and novel writing! I began the story, many years ago, that would become the novel I now promote, a novel that has received rave reviews. Thinking about it, I smile, my heart singing the same proud melody a new mother croons at a newborn's first smile.
I wrote that novel. Stopped. Got derailed. Started again. Got picked up by a New York literary agent, the best in the business, Marie Dutton Brown. Life flowed in on me like a tsunami. I could not write, similar to other times--the best of times, the worst of times, in my life. When I could though, I continued to write, a lovesick woman trailing her first love.
The persistence gradually paid off, even though I was no longer represented by the Marie Dutton Brown Agency. "The Marie," as she is fondly known in the business, had praised me and the completed novel royally then asked me to edit it from 600 pages to less that 350 pages. Publishers simply did not want to take chances on a new author whose manuscript boasted that many pages. That's when other waves washed over me. How was I to cut a manuscript I adored? Was that possible? The tale demanded each chapter to arrive at its memorable ending...or so I thought.
Years swept in. I determined if I were to witness the book's publication, I'd better learn to edit. After all, I was an English teacher by profession. My red pen dashed across student essays artfully, opening veins and restoring faith, simultaneously. I cut it. Then learned that Marie Dutton Brown had cut me and moved up shore. New writers could not be counted on, most times, to finish writing and editing, a common consensus.
But I did. Now I write and publish independently. I no longer wait on others to save me. That Power Within guides me, and I come into this realization each time I pause to let Peace be Still in meditation. Sometimes I am saddened and discouraged, thinking I should be further along than I am. I compare myself to other writers. Before an inner inquisition, I flog myself for not banking millions, like Amanda Hoecking and others inducted into Amazon's Millionnaire Club. I wonder if my work is enough, the thought chasing me to desist and get off a rollercoaster my pen is obviously not fit to ride.
Then I remember to go within, where I am reminded that the Divine Is Enough! This never fails to unleash the magical. Once cloudy and murky, my eyes and heart clear up. I invite judgment to the front door. My horizon manifests an eggshell blue clarity, and again I turn to this keyboard, renewed. Refreshed. And invigorated.
I write because I cannot NOT write. I have tried it. A cessation of all writing. When I do it, guess what? I write in my head. Snippets of stories and characters take shape, and I am back at it...in time.
There are times I read to stop the love/hate passion I have with writing! Yet in the act of giving myself to reading, I find myself inundated with ideas to fuel my own writing. HERE IS MY ADVICE TO MY FACEBOOK FRIEND: Stop trying to do anything. Give yourself a pink slip. Just stop. Go within and determine what your soul wants to do. And do that! If Spirit returns you to the writing, you will do it with a REJUVENATED fire! That is a promise. I have done it many times.
But when you know deep within that you are a writer, ask the Divine for the strength neeeded to birth your gifts. Whether your own or from others, rejection can slice your heart into red ribbons. Make you drop the pen. Run from the sight of sheaths of paper or a vacant computer. Despite that, if writing is your talent, lift it for FREE...and simply write for you. Whatever you come up with, loving it, someone else will love it also!
I hope that was helpful!
Love & Light,