March is over and we are already into the second quarter of 2012. Don’t look now, the year is flying by. So how are those goals, ambitions, resolutions and aims looking? You know, the ones you made in that fresh first blush of 2012. Some of you may be feeling pretty damn happy with how the year is going so far but then some of you will be wanting to throw up in your hands in frustration and just bury your head in hibernation… For me, this year has been a mixed bag so far … I have taken steps forward and I have wanted to step back and throw things. But this is not a moan or a groan… You don’t have the time for that and I don’t have the energy for that. Three months are done. Three months are gone. No point in complaining. If you stumbled off the path to success, it is not too late! You just have to keep walking and when you don’t have strength to walk, keep crawling as long as you are moving FORWARD! So say it with me now: Goodbye March, Hello April!
Make April all about the “A” in ATTITUDE. My April is about being a FIGHTER. No, fighting is not wrong at least not if it is done the right way. The FIGHTING I am talking about is the Fight to put your own stamp on this world. Personality can’t really change but ATTITUDE can. You can choose what Attitude you are going to begin April with. Don’t give up just because you are behind. Behind is a good place to start from, it motivates you to kick some ass and get ahead. Fight for your goals. Fight for your dreams. Fight for your wins.
Think of 2 boxers in a boxing match. (I meant the human kind not the dog kind.) The fight is not always won by a knock out. It is won by the fighter with the most guts who gets the most “right” hits in. The point is to keep fighting until that whistle blows. So are you going to be the fighter who backs away or are you going to keep swinging and stay in the fight? It’s your choice. Nobody can make it for you.
Over the last few months I have been doing battle with one of manuscripts. It had got to the point that I wanted to give up fighting for it and wanted to just give it up. I was very close to hitting the delete button on the whole thing. But I have this stubborn streak in me that just won’t quit and won’t give in or give up. I think my ms has a little of that too. One of the people in my life, a writer, friend and mentor, got “real” with me and told me to quit “bitching” about how much I hate this manuscript and to send it to her for a second opinion. She told me I was not allowed to delete it, was not allowed to do anything to it until she had read the whole thing and offered me her thoughts and opinions. So reluctantly I sent it though in the back of my mind I was still going to delete it but this time I would have even more reason because she would tell me what I knew all along: this manuscript sux! She read it. She skyped me. She told me she loved the story and was super p…ed off that I had not sent her the ending as she was left wanting more. (I had deleted the whole ending because the ms was not feeling right to me.)
HOLD ON! What! She “loved” it. This turned my decision on its head. We skyped some more and she convinced me that there was something special in this ms. It took a long conversation (ok it was more of a pep-talk) to remind me why this story and these characters had called to me in the first place. So I agreed to her kind offer that she would walk the edits through with me chapter by chapter. This is what I have been doing the last couple of weeks.
You know what? The manuscript’s beautiful layers are being revealed bit by bit. I am back in love with the story. I can see the holes and I know what will fill them. I still have quite a bit of work to do but I am now excited because I am back on the path and walking up that hill. But the great thing is that when I get too caught up in doubts (or ego as she likes to say) I have another pair of eyes on it. Sometimes working on your own manuscript is a bit like looking in the mirror. You don’t always see the truth or the beautiful parts because you are examining the faults too closely. Sometimes you have to look at yourself through another’s eyes to appreciate the “real” you. I think it is the same way with a manuscript. And this is why it is important to have a writing BFF or two.
What’s a writing BFF? Let me start by what they aren’t. Writing BFFs are not YES People. Writing BFFs are not jealous of your success. Writing BFFs are not your mothers or your puppies. Writing BFFs are honest. Writing BFFs will not pander to your particular brand of head-crap. They are the people who will tell you the truth about your writing. They are the people in your corner who will wipe your brow and then push you back into the ring even when you want to leave the stadium. They are the people in your corner that stop you from hitting delete just because you can/want to. They are the people who are there, whether you are flying high with success or at the end of your tether over the edge. They are the people who understand my particular brand of self-doubt/ battle against perfection because they are running the same marathon. I am lucky to have a few writing BFFs, each vital for my sanity. A thousand thank you’s to you!
Writing is hard. This is not an easy thing we have chosen to do. We put ourselves and our work out there for people to judge and sometimes the judgements (though not personal) feel very personal and feel like a kick in the gut. I was asked the other day whether I regret quitting the day job and doing this writing thing full-time. The writer who asked me was thinking of doing the same thing. I was honest. I told them that it is hard work and it is an uphill run most of the time. But I also told them it was the best choice I have ever made. I don’t regret it not one bit. Writing is also not a race: not a race against other writers or a race to finish. It is a marathon. You are the only runner on this marathon. It is your path and only you can run it. Success might take time but that is ok. You have time. Don’t waste the time you have. I may never make millions from it (if wishes were gold) but this is not why I am on this path. Millions of dollars might make life easier but it doesn’t grant happiness. Chasing your dreams gives you a reason for happiness and obtaining those dreams makes you happy. I write because this is what I love to do. It is not the only thing I can do but it is the thing that makes me happiest.
Maybe you have been in the same spot as I found myself a couple of weeks ago. Maybe you have been tempted to hit delete or worse to think you are not a writer and want to give up. STOP. Get honest with yourself. Lose the EGO. Get yourself a writing BFF you trust and let them get “real” with you. You may be surprised like I was. You may be talked down from the edge like I was. So make this your month to get real with your dreams and get back to the reason why you started in this fight in the first place. Don’t step out of the ring just because you got scared. There is nothing wrong with being scared. But there is something wrong with fear stopping you in your tracks and knocking you down. I am sure even if we speak to the best of the best in any industry, they all have moments of fear. But it is FIGHTING through that FEAR that is the important difference between failure and success. Try for success, you have nothing to lose!
Have you had doubts fill your head? Have you had an MS you wanted to/did delete? What got you through it? Tell me, I would love to know. After all we’re all just dreamers chasing a fantastic dream. How many people really get to say they chased their dream, win or lose, they did not give up? That is true success. The rest is just icing on the top.
- First Manuscript: Reflecting (davidcalves.com)
- Writing is a Muscle, Flex it (wordservewatercooler.com)
- Editing – Personally and Professionally (genesedavis.com)
- It’s Over (gabrielletheauthoress.wordpress.com)
- Battling Your Evil Editor (sisterhoodofthetravelingpen.wordpress.com)
- Along With Editing a Manuscript I Need to Edit Myself (awritersquery.wordpress.com)
- The Perils of Comparison and the Posse of Imposters Answered (jodicleghorn.wordpress.com)
- I’m (almost) certain someone would like to read this! (ibookpublishing.wordpress.com)
- Day 332 – Doubting the End (ayearoflivingwisely.wordpress.com)
- from david foster wallace: (everywhereleonine.wordpress.com)
- There’s a light, what light! (anikocarmean.wordpress.com)
- The Dreaded Writer’s Block (efharvey.wordpress.com)
- ennui (annaonthepage.wordpress.com)
- Writers on Writing [Clodagh Phelan] (ecademy.com)
- “4 a.m Writer’s Block” (goldenwillowrose28.wordpress.com)
- Writer’s Block Cause 1: Fear (nhwn.wordpress.com)
- Changing Point of View to Defy Writer’s Block (brwesterberg.wordpress.com)