Search:
 
 

The Confessions of a Non-writing Writer

Several weeks ago, I attended my 40th high school reunion. My high school was located in a small rural farming community in northwest Mississippi, and my graduating class was small. Because of our small number, you would think it would be easier to get us together through the years, but we’d not had a reunion since our ten-year one. Ten years hadn’t changed us that much. We were still young and our looks hadn’t changed much since graduation. After forty years, that wouldn’t be the case. So, it was with a mixture of excitement, curiosity, and trepidation that I made the trip “home”. 

1266645_734120523290796_5268491061047238115_o

Grooving to the music.

The reunion was a weekend event planned around the Great Annual Roast and Run Festival. On Friday night, we gathered for dinner and drinks, started the catching up process, took some pictures and then headed to the park where the festivities were getting underway with music, dancing and fireworks. The next day, the park was filled with booths selling homemade crafts and tents housing massive grills that were lovingly tended to by cooks vying for that Grill Master Title in the cook off. Additional tents, sponsored by local businesses and groups hosting events, such as our class, dotted the grassy area to provide places for people to sit, relax, and visit.

 

10379481_734120689957446_5926626181357104580_o

Lighting up the sky

When I attended our ten-year reunion, I was a teacher. When you haven’t seen familiar faces in years, one of the most asked question is “What are you doing now?” The majority of classmates were in the same line of work they’d chosen way back when. They may have changed jobs, but they were still following that same career path. Me? Not so much.  I’d gone from teacher, to customer service rep, to office manager, to vice-president of a small Swedish company to writer. 

Remember I said my 40th high school reunion. If you do the math, or even if you don’t, it still means I’m a few years shy of my sixtieth birthday. Here I was listening to my friends talk about retiring in a few years, while I’d not even gotten my writing career off the ground yet. Talk about a rude awakening.  

Checking out the goods.

Checking out the goods.

Before we go any further, I need to take you back to four years ago to give you a glimpse of the full picture and why the rude awakening took place. During those four years, a chain of events involving my family, my day job, and my after-hours writing all led to my decision to pursue a career as a full-time writer. According to the plan I’d made back then, I should have finished several books and have a contract signed for at least one of them. That hadn’t happened. Instead, I was thrown off track by some things that happened that deeply impacted not only my every day life, but also, my writing life. 

I spent those days dealing with family obligations and believe me, there were a lot of them. I traveled a lot (out of necessity, not pleasure), worried even more, and stressed over not writing. I tried to find time to write, but every time I sat down at my laptop, my mind would wander to the million other things weighing me down.  I couldn’t focus and after days, months, and even years of basically being non-productive, old insecurities crept into my head. While my writing friends were turning out book after book, I stared at a blank screen, willing my fingers to move over the keys. It seemed every one I knew in the writing world was moving ahead while I was left floundering in an ocean of confusion, self-disgust, and yes, that most horrid of feelings, self-pity. 

Now, let’s get back to the rude awakening and the class reunion. Where was I? Oh, yes. That familiar question:

The Class of 1974 Tent

The Class of 1974 Tent

“So, June, what are you doing now? Still teaching?”

“No. I left teaching years ago. I am a writer.”

That was when the heavens opened, a ray of light shone down on me, and a deep voice thundered, “June! You are a writer! Go forth and write!” Okay, so it wasn’t quite like that, but believe me, saying those words aloud had a profound affect on me. I. AM. A. WRITER.Who knew the power those four little words held? How long had it been since I’d said those words, but more importantly, how long since I’d believed them? 

Grill Masters at work.

Grill Masters at work.

After a weekend of hugs, laughter, and shared memories, I was in my car headed home. It was then I realized that I had to let go of a time that no longer existed. For the past several years, I’d wanted things in my life to be like they were before that chain of events. (Except for the job. The job I would give up all over again. No regrets there.) If you’re familiar with the stages of grief, then you will recognize this as the acceptance stage. The final stage of the healing process. A few miles and some tears later, I understood that I was leaving behind a large part of the reason that had kept me from writing all these many months. The trip was bittersweet, but by going back, I was now ready to move forward. 

As much as I believed I wanted to jump back into my revisions, I knew it wouldn’t be that simple. Things are rarely as easy as they seem. As I go through the process of moving forward, I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned along the way.

  • Never compare yourself to others. Just because Positive Jane with a million books under her belt can write as the world crumbles around her doesn’t mean you must to do the same. It doesn’t make you weaker or her stronger. It just is.
  • You can walk in someone else’s shoes or they in yours, but that doesn’t mean you’ll experience the same emotions. We are all different. Thank you, God, for that. :-)  Sharing similar experiences doesn’t mean you know how someone is feeling. 
  • You can’t be responsible for things over which you have no control. The emotions/thoughts of others is one such thing. Dealing with your emotions can be difficult enough, therefore, you must allow other people take ownership of their own feelings.

Because I love happy endings, I thought I would save this one for last: Losing that all-consuming passion for writing doesn’t mean you’re no longer a writer. Don’t let the fear of not producing get into your head. You have a writer’s heart, so listen to it. Believe in it. Believe in yourself. The joy will return. The passion will surface. You are a writer.

Are you one of those writers who can write come hell or high water? If so, I’d love to hear how you do it. If you’re like me and have suffered some writing lapses in your career, how did you rekindle that passion? 

Return of the Slog

A few things have converged this week and I wanted to address them under the broader heading of “The Slog.” We discussed the idea of “the slog” in a post back in February, which you can find here At the time of the article, I asked the question, “What makes some days a slog and some […]

RUBY RELEASE: Seventh Grave and No Body

WOOT! It’s release day for the next book in the Charley Davidson series: Seventh Grave and No Body. I’m thrilled to be able to share this with our readers, especially in this, my favorite month of the year! Nothing says Halloween is coming like one of Charley’s creepy cases. This time Charley gets to do […]

Motivation through workshops

My first book came out two years ago this month. In the subsequent twelve months I had three more out and one novella, and then this year two and a novella. Next year will hopefully be three full lengths (and just maybe three novellas). I know plenty of authors do more than that, but for […]

Katie’s Birthday Bash

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!   Don’t you just hate people who throw their own birthday parties? Well, get over it because I’m throwing my own. Today, I’m 43 years-old and proud of it! My father died at the age of 59 and then my sister at the age of 39, so in my […]

How I Know I’m Meant to be an Author

Or…”A cold, rainy day in October.” Last weekend I was invited to speak at a local literary festival held in our local U-city Loop. It was a happening area with a lot of foot traffic–sure to attract many passsers by.  As publicity chair for the MORWA chapter, I also thought it would be a great […]

Zombies, Snow White, and Gypsies Oh My!

I’m a dresser-upper. Not in sophisticated jackets with heels and a stylish clutch. I’m talking about costumes. Since I was a little kid I’ve donned the clothes of characters. From a pilgrim on Thanksgiving to a decked out green kid going to school on St. Patrick’s Day, I dressed up whenever I could get away […]

You Are Not Alone

Robin Williams was such an amazing and multi-talented entertainer. He seemed equally comfortable with comedy or drama, scripted or unscripted, and everything in-between. He was enormously successful and, unfortunately, in great pain. Yet the tragedy of losing him too soon has shone a light on depression. October is National Depression Awareness Month. Let’s start the […]

Struggling to Be Heard

I have this theory, about the impulse to write, and I’m curious if it holds true for other writers, so please chime in with your take.  Here’s the thing: I think a big chunk of my drive to write comes from a feeling of not being heard.  Trying to communicate and finding either that no […]

Creative Minds: Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Having recently hit a rough patch in my own creative process, one of the things I’ve been doing to refill my personal creative well is to explore the creative processes of people whose work I enjoy and appreciate.  Fair warning: This video-heavy blog post is likely to be the first in an occasional series because […]

The Teal Pumpkin Project

It’s the scariest time of year for my daughter, and for millions of kids just like her. I’m not talking about goblins, witches, and ghosts, although that is pretty spooky. Actually, what I’m talking about is even more terrifying — candy. WHAT?? How can candy be anything other than delicious, a treat clearly sent by […]

A Yak On a Cliff

I’m always amazed when my day job in marketing and advertising intersects with my writing life and today was one of those days. I’ve been a fan of the magazine, Redbook, for a long time. They have a sassy sensibility about them – the magazine’s fun and trendy but in an attainable way – and it’s […]

Ruby Release: Whisper Falls Book 3 — Whispers From the Past

Amanda Brice here, ready to celebrate the release of Whispers From the Past, the third and final book in my Ruby Sister Elizabeth Langston’s amazing Whisper Falls trilogy. I read each of these books as they were released, and gobbled them right up. Seriously, I couldn’t wait to get my greedy hands on this third […]

Are You An Affiliate?

Amanda Brice’s parents ended up surprising her by coming for a visit, so she didn’t get a chance to write the post she’d planned for today. So instead enjoy this reprise of a post from last year. About a month back, I gave you all permission to laugh at me. My offense back then was […]

Plan Now for NaNo!

Just before dawn today, when I opened the door to let the dog out, the morning air was crisp and cold. The grocery stores are filled with Pumpkin Spice everything, and my daughter keeps pointing out turtleneck sweaters in clothing catalogs (and reminding me how often she empties the dishwasher without me asking…well, without me […]

Hour-a-Day Challenge: The RECKONING!!

Well, it’s October!!!! And that means the September Hour-A-Day Writing Challenge has come to an official close. How’d we do? Pretty damn well, thank you very much! Enough that a core group of us are re-upping the challenge for the month of October. (WOOOOOOT!!!! I’m so excited about this!!!) Also enough that I’m going to […]

Writing Linked Books – Ruby Release Taming the Lion

I love perspectives. We all see through the world through our own filter and when I began writing the Lone Pine Pride series, I knew I wanted each book to not only advance the series arc, but also to show the reader a new perspective on something they’d seen previously from a different angle. It […]

Make It Golden Contest WINNERS

And the votes are all in! As always, trying to pick a favorite in the Make It Golden Contest is a wee bit like picking a favorite child: we really loved them all!! For those of you who may just be joining us, the Make It Golden Contest celebrates excellent beginnings in unpublished romance novel […]

Romance writers as Travel Companions

Please don’t tell the extended Essex family, but I’ve just discovered that I like to travel without them. It is a rather astonishing revelation for me, as I very much enjoyed travel with my family. But I’ve discovered better companions—other writers! Imagine yourself on a road trip with a fellow writer—I took just such a […]

Make It Golden Contest Finalists Announced!

It’s time to announce the Top Ten Finalists for the 2014 Make It Golden Contest!! Finalists: be sure to post your EXPANDED entries in the comments below (a maximum total of 250 words, starting with the opening lines you showed us already, plus what immediately follows) by 12:01 a.m. September 27 to stay in contention […]

And While We Tabulate the Votes…….

Yesterday, brave–and uber-talented–folks posted dozens of great entries for the Fifth Annual Make It Golden Contest! If you weren’t on the blog yesterday, go read them all right now!!! (Seriously…it’s an amazing mix of funny, poetic, suspenseful, intriguing story openings!) Once again, the wonderful writing community around us has set us a REALLY, REALLY hard […]

Fifth Annual Make It Golden Contest Entry Day!!!!!

update: the contest has closed to entries! please check for the list of finalists at one minute past midnight, right at the start of  September 26. ******* Welcome to the FIFTH Annual MAKE IT GOLDEN Contest!! The MAKE IT GOLDEN contest is designed for unpublished authors who are polishing up their entries for RWA’s Golden […]

Plot and Premise – An Epiphany

At the recent RWA national conference in San Antonio, one very simple tip from best-selling YA author Ally Carter almost tipped me out of my chair. I noticed other workshop attendees’ faces lighting up at the same time. (They were reacting to what Ally said, not to me falling out of my chair. Just thought […]

The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood Blog-O-Versary!!! Five Years and Counting!

It’s Our Birthday!!! Today marks FIVE YEARS of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Blog…. That’s 1,667 posts and over 60,000 comments, and more than 675,000 reads from visitors we love!! (And don’t forget the hundreds of Ruby books that have come out since we started in 2009!) Thanks to you, Loyal Readers, we’re in the mood […]

Milestones

When I realized my birthday is tomorrow and I’ll be hitting another decade milestone in another year, my first reaction was, “That’s it—I’m not having any more birthdays after this one!” Then it dawned on me that the only way to avoid getting older is . . . well, you know. Death is not an […]

Subscribe to the Blog

Name
Email *

Coming Soon on the Blog

Newsletter Signup

* = required field

Find the Rubies