As writers we spend so much of our time
banging our heads against the proverbial or literal wall trapped in our climate-controlled offices, staring at blipping cursors, and trying to figure out how to make our characters real and alive on the page. It’s often, however, that, while we are distancing ourselves from the world in order to pursue our love, our art, we often forget to step back from the writing itself and step out into the real world, interacting with people – you know, the real life characters!
Writers adore talking about how “real” their writing is, how “like life” it is; we love to strut our stuff
On the catwalk, oh on the catwalk…I shake my little tush on the catwalk! and talk about how our writing stems from our lives and experiences. But there does come a point in most writer’s lives that we seem to retreat from those lives and experiences we’ve accumulated and hide inside the shell of our art, our productivity.
We all want to be productive, meet our deadlines, and come out with enough material to satisfy our
ever-growing fan lists. But too often in order to meet those personal wishes as a writer, we find ourselves sacrificing the most important thing about being a writer – LIVING LIFE!
Until recently, I was one of these writers. I had become a slave to my word count, my productivity. I felt deep guilt if I missed a personal deadline or blew off a writing session for a day. I was ashamed to admit that I might be thinking about something else except for the latest project or next project. I was stuck, sinking into the deep, dark well that writing can become if it’s no longer fun. Then I was thrown a lifesaver.
No, I’m not talking about the candy, people.
I am fortunate enough to be blessed with an SO who has a very unique look on life.
At least unique for me. This SO believes that, while art needs to be directed and worked at, the art itself can’t stand in the way of life, just as life can’t stand in the way of the art. I always thought that dedication to my craft meant a deprived life and long, lonesome days and nights of solitude. And, to a point, it does. No one can sit down with me and write the words; no one can be inside my mind and see the images and pictures I see, desperately trying to determine what is the best way to convey them. BUT and it’s a pretty big fucking but here if all I spend are long, lonesome nights of weary, dogged solitude in front of my computer, what am I really writing about? I’m no longer writing about life. Why? Because I’m not enjoying it; I’m not living it. How can I write about something that I’m no longer experiencing?
Yes, I do write about things I’ve never expereinced. I am not a former cop (for those of you who follow my books), nor am I a clairvoyant. I have never been orphaned (again for those who know my books), and I’ve never been someone’s slave. Also, I’ve never had to experience someone else’s death at my hands (again my books), nor have I been admitted to a psychiatric institute
this might surprise a few lol. But the core fundamentals of each of my books – a woman abruptly changing her life and learning how to love again; a young girl who feels cut off from the world and yearns to be like everyone else; and a woman who has experienced guilt on a personal level and is struggling with her own mind – I understand and have lived. The details like those I mentioned are icing; the fundamentals are what I have experienced in life and are the real cake.
A good friend, MD/KM, invited me to Romantic Times Convention in Chicago, IL. this past weekend. My first inclination was not to attend.
Yeah, it’s true, MD/KM. But the nagging little voice that’s taken up residence in my head recently that I’m missing out on life somehow insisted I go. I’m glad I had the opportunity. Despite the “writer” in me thinking how I could have used that time to finish edits, plug away at the ol’ word count, or outline the next project, I was hobnobbing with other authors, connecting with new friends, and wandering the streets of Chicago’s Wicker Park. I spent the afternoon having drinks in a pub where I’m fairly certain Greek was the official language of the neighborhood; I rode the train (something I haven’t done in Chicago since I was a child); and I meandered in and out of shops and people-watched to my heart’s content. And, the best thing about it all? It was exactly what I needed to revitalize my writing! A new sense of urgency is pumping through my veins to write, promote, and experience life so I can write some more. It’s Grrrrrrr-eat!
I guess what this means is that while I am scraping out time to divide between actual writing, actual editing, and actual promotion, I’ll also be finding time to actually live, instead of hiding behind my computer monitor pretending to do so through my characters who, unless I do it, aren’t.
Oh, yes, and I learned one more thing too that also applies loosely to this article. Great advice from a newly met-in-person but longstanding online friend/author BG…Just because I’m a writer doesn’t mean my regular life isn’t interesting from time to time. I don’t need to let my writing consume EVERYTHING I do.
Dream, but remember to live those dreams! -b
Author of A Touch of Madness (Spring 2012 – coming soon), A Touch of Darkness (Fall 2010), Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows (Summer 2007), and contributing author to Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction (Fall 2011)