02 March 2011
Back in the Saddle by Lynn Crain
Now many of you who don’t know me will be wondering what I’m talking about. Those of you who do wonder when I was ever out of the saddle.
Well…for both of you groups, I was definitely out of the saddle. What do I mean? you may ask. For me it is obvious. Quite a few years ago, I became disillusioned with life. And writing.
Not that I didn’t want to do either…no, I wanted to write and live life to the fullest. I was disillusioned with the fact that all I did was work. All I did was have a business. I never seemed to have time for any of the things that I loved. Or those that I loved.
Then 9/11 happened. I along with millions watched in horror as icons for our freedom and financial well-being were toppled in front of my eyes. To top it all off, it was my niece’s birthday. I can remember thinking, Oh hell…what a day. I can remember thinking, My god…what’s this world coming to? I can remember thinking, This changes everything.
And suddenly, I was thinking much clearer. I was thinking with the part of myself that had been shut off by business deals and bottom lines. Suddenly, I thought about what mattered most in my life: my family and my writing. I had neglected both for many months.
My husband and I no longer took those long walks. My youngest son and I only argued about homework leaving very little time for anything else. My oldest was a stranger I barely knew. One of my good friends, who I considered a sister, and I fought constantly about the business. God only knew when I had last called my brother and his family. And my latest characters at the time, Trista and Alfred, were languishing in the limbo state of barely finished with many chapters waiting for revision.
Suddenly, I found myself on the road to recovery. Recovery of my craft.
The business, which printed financial documents for a mainstay, suddenly couldn’t earn its keep and the following April it was decided to close it at the end of May. I started to reconnect with those I loved. I now try to take a walk with my husband at least once a week. I care for my youngest everyday…and he drives me crazy but I love it. I love it when my oldest comes in to tell me about his latest accomplishment. Currently, they are his two new sons! My friend and I planned critique sessions.
Trista and Alfred are also on the road to recovery. Along with them, I write at least one article, possibly one poem, come up with some ideas and plan for my next full day, or week if it’s Sunday, of writing. I’m going to write for a living…even though I may need an outside job to keep the hubby happy and pay for my share of the bills. (As of this update, this has come to pass and I can say I’m happier than ever...woohoo!)
This time I will make it…I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Now having said all that, here are some tips to keep the writing muse alive. Because, even with all I’ve been through, the muse never left me.
1. Writing doesn’t take as much time as you think.
All you need is to give it a little portion of each day. Are there times when you are waiting for something? Like a doctor’s appointment? Your kids? Is there a television show you can live without? If you answer yes to any of these questions, writing can be part of your daily routine. Write things down in a journal, then transcribe them when you used to watch that TV show.
2. Look at the markets weekly.
The markets change daily. This is because of the Internet. Today, writers have more opportunities than ever before. Exploring those markets will usually kick start an idea which will then lead to you finding more time to write. I personally get up each morning and head for my computer. Once I’ve waded through the junk mail, I start looking for new and interesting markets for my work.
3. Make a weekly plan.
I say weekly plan, because life can be so uncertain any more. I tend to plan my life at least 6 months out but for writing I do it weekly and sometimes even daily when I have a deadline. I start on Sunday evening looking at all the guidelines I printed during the week. I then check to see if I’ve written anything that will fit the guidelines. If I don’t have anything, I ask myself if I want to write it. If I do, I put it in the weekly calendar. I plan to have the article done that same day. I then put it down for revision the next day and submission the day after that.
While this may seem ambitious, it’s the only way that I can keep focused and on track. Otherwise, I tend to never get anything done.
I try to read something new everyday. With the Internet, you can read articles and reviews or just about anything. I reserve my evenings for my pleasure reading or study.
I have certain things that interest me…such as medieval medicine. I have always been fascinated with how today’s medical system works in relation to how it really started. Because of that I am constantly reading on this subject. It gives me get ideas for some stories as well a good read about something I thoroughly enjoy.
Like attracts like. I cannot stress this enough. We are what we eat and whom we hang out with. Laugh you may but it is true. By this I mean, if you truly want to be a writer you will need to network with other writers. This can be done through meetings or conferences, both formal and informal. If you want to write…hang out with writers. Strive to do…not just be a wannabe.
Remember to write, write, write. It’s what makes you a writer.
Hopefully, I’ve given you some bits of wisdom that you can use in your writing life. Life is what life is…we can’t always change it, but we can shape what comes our way. We can make things happen…positive things. And like the old saying goes, it has to start with you. You have to make the changes, you have to want to write, and you have to do it.
And for this woman…I’m back in the saddle again. Permanently.
Anybody got any bag balm?
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Posted by Beth D. Carter at 7:41 PM