I have a new addition to my regular post. I am now part of the BLOG CHAIN. Each member of the group post on a specific topic, one at a time, like the links in a chain. For a complete list of participants, see the side bar. I am excited to be part of such an amazing group of writers…and a little intimidated. But, here it goes…
This round was started by Terri. Here is the topic she selected:
Have you ever had anything cause you to step back from writing? If so, what was the cause and how long did it take you to get back into the swing of things? If not, do you have any advice for other writers about not letting life get in the way of writing?
This topic was an interesting one to start my chain experience with, tapping into some recent discovers about what writing means to me. I started writing – I mean REALLY writing about nine months ago. Don’t get me wrong. I had talked about writing, dreamed about writing, made goals about finishing the elusive first novel, and fantasized about being published several times. In fact, I recently found files full of story ideas, half written scenes and a few small critiques from “back in the day” (about 20 years ago, give or take). I don’t count that as actual writing time. I wasn’t serious about the craft of writing then. I just knew I had ideas that seemed to ‘need” to be written down.
Why didn’t I attempt writing then? Timing I suppose. At that time in my life I was a newlywed, worked as a buyer for a major department store, traveled extensively and just never seemed to have time. Over the next 15 to 20 years, I had children, went back to school and finished my Masters, changed careers, and just got busy with “life”. Everything was going along just fine. I was happy with my life and never expected to again look towards writing – at least not writing fiction.
Being an avid reader, I read A LOT during this time. It was on one particular reading binge, about nine months ago, that the writing bug struck so forcefully I simply had to pay attention. Characters and storylines starting forming in my head, relentlessly demanding my attention. For whatever reason, I paid attention this time.
And so began my journey into the field of writing fiction.
Over the last nine months, I completed one story, revising it several times. I have written two more books (one fiction and one non-fiction) that are being revised and critiqued, and have started another novel. Pretty busy nine months. (I’m a little obsessive – a different story for another time J )
But I did not write the entire time. Life got in the way in September and October. I learned an important lesson during this time, discovering why I HAVE to write regularly.
I work a job that gives me the summer’s off. So, I spent last summer finishing my first book, revising it, learning about the publishing industry (what a learning curve that has been), writing queries and synopses, and trying to find an agent. Although I learned a ton, I had no luck with the whole “find an agent” thing. I went back to my 9-5 job in late August. Boy was I busy…too busy. The nature of my job had changed, as did the time I had to write. I decided to let writing slip away for a little while, concentrating only on the art of finding an agent and learning how to do my regular job a little more efficiently.
Then it happened…pneumonia, excessive work hours, and stress…lots of stress. My life collapsed in on itself and for the first time in more than ten years, I could not cope. I stopped everything as I wrestled with finding balance in my life – unsuccessfully, I might add. Being a person that hates being unstable, I made finding my equilibrium my first priority.
I created “sacred” time for myself, spent quality-time with close family, stepped back a little from work and discovered some of the best online writers one could ever find.
And I started writing. A LOT.
By the end of a few weeks, life had regained its balance and I could function again. NaNoWriMo came along and I entered. A couple of online friends (thanks Elana and Carolyn) helped me complete it and my writing obsession had started back full swing. In December I started a blog and January I agreed to participate in a critique group (SO SCARY).
I learned a lot about what writing means to me during that rough patch. For me, writing provides an outlet for the stress of my everyday world. I can “escape” for just a little while into a world of my own making. Writing, along with my daily doses of exercise, meditation and family time, provide everything I need to stay in balance.
I wouldn’t say I have learned exactly how to keep all the balls in the air just right yet. But I would say that I learned that I have to keep the writing one afloat lest I risk everything crashing down again.
One final note, I do step away from writing at times – but only for a day or so. This usually happens when the “find-an-agent, get published” part of writing becomes too overwhelming. Fortunately, I have a great family that keeps me writing – even if it’s only a few stories just for them…
Happy writing everyone.