Archive | March, 2011

Taking Myself Seriously as a Writer

29 Mar

For all of us who still have a “day job,” it is often difficult to take oneself seriously as a writer. As much as we might say, “I am a writer,” it is easy to shunt the writing tasks off to the end of the day, after work, household tasks, family, shopping and even exercise. After all, I have to take care of myself to be a good writer, don’t I?
I sometimes exhaust myself with multi-tasking. I try to find time to write and revise throughout my day as a substitute teacher. I respond to emails at my laptop in the kitchen while my husband does the dishes (Bless him!). But it all often leaves my exhausted to the point where I think, “Why am I doing this?”
But I keep doing it, and occasionally am rewarded by publication, nomination as a finalist for an award, or a request to join a mystery writers’ panel.
I am fortunate that I can take a day off now and then to catch up and recharge my writing batteries.
How do other people do it? How do you keep up on the demands of your life, and still take yourself seriously as a writer? Is it all about money? Do I have to be making money at it to call myself a writer?

Different Kinds of Creativity

14 Mar

I am a writer. I get up in the morning and think about which of my projects I will work on today, since I always have several projects I am balancing in various stages of development. Currently, I am working on revising my latest novel, which is tentatively titled Lydia’s Story. And I will be using my creativity and skills to draft a query letter to prospective agents. I am finishing up my third book review for Suspense magazine, a fun project that includes free books delivered to my door. I am finishing a short story I plan to submit to a midwest literary journal. Although I live on the east coast now, I grew up on a farm in southern Illinois, and like to return to those roots now and then. I am also “resurrecting” a short novel I wrote before my first novel, The Gate House, was published.
Although my present projects are all in the revision or revisiting phase, that is not to say I am not being creative. As a writer, the most fun part of what I do is when I am in the flow of a story, and I am able to allow the creative ideas to jump out, often surprising me.
Revision and revisiting are still creative activities. I look at them as getting dressed up to go out and meet the world. They must be at their best, and it is my job to polish them, take away what is superfluous and make them brilliant in their own way. I love this process because I have a chance to show that I care about what I write. It is different from the original flow of ideas, but not tedious. Every creative effort needs refinement: a cook improves a recipe, a musician practices, a film maker shoots a scene over and over. And a writer revises. It’s not that we strive for perfection, but we strive for our best.

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I am currently reading: Dewey by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. This is the story of the library cat in Spencer, Iowa who canged a town and became a world-wide celebrity. I am about three quarters of the way through it, and am finding the story of the autor, who struggled with her own personal problems, as fascinating as the story of the cat. It is light reading, kind of a “rest book” between more challenging fare, but enjoyable.