Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Put a Ring On It: Commitment to Writing.

From bronswirlz13
I was thinking the other day about writing now and writing when I very first began Haven. After my 10+ year hiatus, it was like falling in love all over again. I stayed up all hours of the night, pounding away on the keyboard like a psychotic Mozart, less the innate mad skills to create genius without even trying.

When I made breakfast, I thought about the book. When I took a shower, I thought about the book. When I drove the kids to the park, yep, I thought about the book. I'd lay in bed for hours some nights, plotting and having conversations with the characters in my head. I'd sit up from a half-sleep and frantically scratch ideas on paper using only the insufficient light from my phone. Believe me, I have notes I can't even read, and the ones I can read are mostly nonsensical.

But I was completely in love with my project... I felt like a teenager again when everything was fresh and exciting. No matter how flawed my story might be, it was mine, and I was over the moon.

As time wore on and I made a genuine, till-death-do-us-part commitment, the glory began to fade. It wasn't because I'd lost interest in the project. It wasn't because something newer and more interesting came along. But now, the real work began.

Getting words on a page is the fun part. It isn't a struggle for me to come up with ideas or characters. The work is introducing those things in the way they deserve. We're a team, my story and I, and I want to be the best teammate I can for what's been given to me.

Instead of creating adventures, I found myself removing those things that didn't move the story forward. Plot holes here, irresolution there. I suddenly found I was patching up the relationship between my story and myself, and I didn't even know we were having problems.

According to the story, I wasn't devoting enough time to the characters' needs. Sometimes I took situations too lightly. I tried to work on it. But it's in my nature to make light of something that makes me uncomfortable. Apparently, my characters didn't like that. They wanted me to feel the things they felt so I could share that with the reader.

So, I adapted. I started listening and trying to be more understanding. I made sure to clean up my messes and take out the trash. I was more cognoscente of their plans when I made my own. Over time, our relationship began to flourish once more. Haven hit the shelves with a shiny new wedding band and all.

There have been a few naysayers along the way. Those people who spew out relationship advice left and right even though they've never been a part of a successful one themselves. They squawk like harpies flying overhead, pointing out all the things you're doing wrong. And I'll confess, their bitter words are as piercing as acid-tipped darts on bare skin ... if you let them be.

But I made a commitment to my writing a long time ago. I know I can't live happily without it. Writing has become a part of who I am and who I'll become. I may never be a J.K. Rowling of a success or a Tennyson of beautiful words, but I choose to love our relationship because it's ours. No one else has one like my writing and I do. For that reason, I can't let anyone else tell me how to manage it. I won't compare my relationship to the relationship of others, because no two are alike. When it comes to your writerly marriage, you find what dress fits YOU, because wearing someone else's just won't work.

A writing marriage, just like a real one, isn't always beautiful. You'll have up days and you'll have down. But just like a real marriage, you choose to make it work. The writing isn't going to bail on you, so the ball's in your court to maintain the passion. Ignore what others say unless it's helpful. Just remember, not everyone with an opinion is qualified to have one. Even crazies think they're right.

At the end of the day, it's just the two of you. Enjoy every heartache and every victory, because not only do you grow with each experience, so does your relationship.

Happy writing.


  1. I have finally stopped feeling guilty about spending my day writing, editing and social networking. I would never have finished MY ZOMBIE DOG if I didn't start taking it seriously and now it's paying off. GO FOR IT!
    Wagging Tales

  2. I long to have a day where I feel less guilty about my time spent with my computer. It's practically an affair lol. It's nice having some good return on my work now though.

    I love the premise of MY ZOMBIE DOG! I'll bet I can guarantee that's completely original story! Way to stick with it, and congrats on the release!

  3. I love this post! The thing is, like a marriage eventually the honeymoon is over, the shine wears off that apple, and writers are left with the nuts and bolts of where the rubber meets the road (sorry for the mixed idioms, its early :-). Anyway, my point is that, as with any relationship, we are often faced with a choice. Either abandon the relationship or commit to it. I'm so glad you've chosen to dig in your heels and stay the course. I just hope you don't plant me before you celebrate your 50th writing anniversary. I'd love to be invited to the party!

  4. Well said. As I have told folks (and written in blogs) one of the reasons that I write is because the words are in my head...while making breakfast, taking the kids to daycare, walking on the treadmill, etc. I just *have* to write them down. Why would I ignore a gift from the Muse?

  5. So true about being left with the nuts and bolts, Chi! Anything worth having/doing is tough. You choose to stick it out. ...And NO planting before the 50th! ;)

    Michael, there's no denying a true writer's heart. While we love what we do, it's less of an option than a need. At least it's a good need though, huh?

  6. How do I always click on the posts that have something to teach me? I too quit writing for a long time, but I couldn't stay away forever. I'm a writer; that's who I am.

    The immersion process you describe is exactly what it takes for me to get my story down on paper. I love it, but it's been a long time coming. Thanks for the advice!

  7. Ohhhh... where's the "Like" button??? Serious. Hope, I really enjoyed this. And I needed it. Thanks SO much for sharing! :D

  8. I love you guys! It's so awesome that writers get each other. I love being able to talk and be understood. Y'all are the best.

  9. I agree with pretty much all of you, but I struggle with balance between “real” and “writerly” relationships. Characters, scenes and plot lines dance freely in my subconscious, and often remain there for lack of attention. It’s difficult to make time for writing when there is a Spouse, a family and friends requiring consideration. What are some good tips for devotion to BOTH without the neglect of the other? How do you avoid the “correction” associated with devoting time to one aspect of life?

  10. Wow - I'm writing a blog on writing and commitment. I googled "commitment" images and found your amazing photo of LOTR and saw that your blog was on commitment to writing!