No Excuses: Get to Your Writing

Welcome back to the Friday Artist Entrepreneur column. Today I tell it like it is. Even though there are no excuses about getting to my writing, boy do I have them.

Being an artist entrepreneur, an author and a business owner, is a tough gig. {Can you hear the whining already?} There is no one else who writes exactly like me — the kinds of fantasy novels I write — part fairy tale, part gritty, all fantasy. So it stands to reason that there is also no one who runs a business in the way I do. And to stay true to the core of my business — helping writers succeed in their writing, in their books, and other writing projects — I have to write. I especially need to write my fiction.

There really are no excuses I can give for not getting to my writing. Actually, in my case it’s editing the next book, the one after Henrietta The Dragon Slayer. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of editing and rewriting — lots of re-visioning– I have to do on The Dragon Stone, especially if I want to release it in June 2012.

I sure want to point my finger at the business I run, and work in, and say, “I can’t write/edit/rewrite/disappear into my fiction. I have client work.”

But of course, I don’t have client work all the time. At least I’ve managed to not work ALL day every day, and still make a living. {Good job, Beth!}

Here’s the thing. I want to whine. Really whine about how editing my novel is hard. How I don’t know where to begin. How I don’t feel organized enough in my business. How things aren’t perfect. How I don’t work out enough. About how I need down time. About how my relationships — primary and others — need my attention.

Really, though. What is more important than working on my fiction?

Well, living actually. Yes, living a life, breathing, walking, moving, enjoying the company of loved ones, taking care of business. These things are ALL important.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Well, write, of course.

I only know ONE way out of my confusion. And that is to write. And to feel the love.

I’ve cracked the whip so well for myself over the years. So well. Out of fear, pain, desire. But not necessarily out of love. More like out of desperation.

Many years ago, at the tender age of 20, I read some of my journal entries to my boyfriend at the time, Bruce, and asked for his feedback. I thought the writing was good and heartfelt. Maybe it was heartfelt. In his lovely and refreshing honesty, he told me that the writing didn’t move him, and that he liked my colorings with watercolor pencils much better. The colorings he thought were good. The writing was not. I was a little crushed, and mostly surprised. I didn’t, and still don’t put much thought or effort into my visual art. I just do it for fun.

What I really care about and have cared about since I was at least 7 years old has been my writing.

And I’ve worked damn hard at it. Because I wanted to write the kinds of stories that so moved me, taught me so much about life, since I was a little girl.

Fiction. Story telling. A story that makes you forget who you are and teaches about yourself all at the same time.

I want to come to my writing with love now. No more cracking the whip. I want to gently re-create my writing practice  — and my whole business, too — out of love, not out of fear. Not out of anger. Or revenge and competition to be better than another.

All those intense emotions I used as fuel. They’re real, they have worked, and have gotten me this far.

But a new year is starting — the legendary 2012 no less — and I want to do things differently now.

I want to lovingly listen to all my excuses, recognize their validity, and then gently bring myself to the page.

My warrior has proved herself. She’s handy to have. I’m not letting that part of me go. Hey, with my warrior self I’ve written Henrietta The Dragon Slayer and will continue to for at least two more books.

I’d just like to bring in the gentle and firm mothering self — yes, mothering — who has a touch of humor and lots of understanding. She also deeply has my best interests at heart and doesn’t let me forget what is most important to me: my novel writing, the art and craft of fiction.

We all need ways to navigate the world, and helping others make their dreams come true via succeeding with their books is absolutely one of mine. But I can only do that because I walk my talk. Really. I mean I really have to walk my talk, or I feel like a fraud.

I know what it’s like to want to write a book, but not yet have that as a reality.

I know what it’s like to start from nothing… with only my wits and my determination, and my bravery to ask for help.

I know what it’s like to be stuck, to have writer’s block, to not know how to write a scene, or even how to plot.

I know what it’s like to have a busy life and struggle with it all, and to still find time to write, edit, rewrite, and edit some more, then publish, market, and market some more.

I know all this and still, I struggle. Hey, I’m human after all.

Nevertheless, this struggle feels new. I’ve never been in this position before: my business as a writing and book coach and editor is blossoming — it’s so lovely to experience this confidence that I can make my business work (be profitable!) and have done so and will continue to do so; I’ve written an award-winning novel that is starting to find it’s audience; and am finishing a sequel due out in 2012.

If this wasn’t enough to work on, I want to get more fit, get enough sleep, and have time to be with my loved ones. Like I said above.

So, I’d like to reword the title. It’s not that we must brush aside our excuses and push ourselves to the page, like a reluctant and wild horse. It’s that we need to “Bring Ourselves to the Page.” We need to gentle the wildness that has so many needs, say “Yes!” to them all, and focus on the most important thing right now: our writing.

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  • Don Wilde says:

    Hi, Beth –

    Right on. I have had to be both pushy with myself and gentle with myself. What I know is that after three totally bad starts the writing is now flowing.

    I remember back to a book I read years ago about building really fragile indoor model airplanes. The author advised you to “build up to building” in the sense of getting everything in your life aligned so that the wood and the knives and the glue in front of you are ready for you to arrive and you show up and you are ready to build.

    The story line is clear in my head, the computer is arranged and powered, and I arrive in total intention to write without pressure or doubt. Writing flows. Tommorrow, work will flow and then writing will flow again. Goodness is happening, and I know it to be so.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Hi, Don –

    Thanks. And lovely metaphor with the “build to building.” Really lovely and useful — a combo I love. Let us build up to the writing. Thanks again!

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