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Posts from the ‘writers’ Category

Gleanings: No Negative Criticism Allowed, and Writing is Medicine

“I hammer it into all my students: You must shut out all the negative voices that say you’ll never write as well as you hope, that you are just no good and why bother.” ~ Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Pen on Fire.

Boy, these voices are loud, and so authoritative sounding. Many come from outside ourselves in the voices from friends and family. I can recall a neighbor who said, “Oh, those romances, they’re all the same,” and dismissed my efforts. Then once my book was published, more than one person scoffed and said, “When are you going to write a real book?”

Most of the negative voices, however, come to us from within our own minds. They are our own voices, the doubts formed by impressions of living in the world, where there are so many disappointments. We’re taught to down-play ourselves. We’re taught from the time we begin school to ‘fit in’, and ‘don’t think to highly of yourself, missy.’  Society is all the time telling us we must do better, be better–television ads demand we have a whiter smile, colored hair, ripped abs, fast and gleaming car, cell phone that can run the world (never mind that it ends up running us), kids on the honor roll and best house on the block. These messages come relentlessly, and we end up feeling not quite good enough.

Also, and I’m going to say it, there is the devil. Yes. See that guy right there on your shoulder. You have a good idea and it excites you. That devil just whispers in your ear that you’re being silly. How many great dreams are stolen this way?

I want to tell you that I had those voices in my head, but I went on and wrote 30 books anyway. What I look back now and see is that once I began to write, once I turned my imagination loose, my imagination was so loud that I did not hear the negative voices. There were times when the doubts were so loud, I actually said: Shut up, I’m writing.

Today I know that writing is what Julia Cameron says:

“Writing is medicine. It is an appropriate antidote to injury. It is an appropriate companion for any difficult change.” ~Julia Cameron, The Right to Write.

Start writing, painting, cooking, anything you imagine, and the negative voices fade. Don’t let anyone, especially that voice of doubt, tell you that you can’t do something.


Gleanings: If You’re no Longer in Love With Writing, and other places of commitment

“But if you’re no longer in love with writing, for whatever reasons, then there are only three choices. The first is to abandon writing and look for a new love. The second is to continue with your dull marriage, writing but not loving. The third is to fall in love again.” ~ Eric Maisel, Living the Writer’s Life

The relationship between a writer and writing is a type of marriage, and one thing I have learned from a long marriage union to my husband is that on any given day we arrive at one of the three places named above. In any relationship, we have times of not loving, times of dullness when we carry on but wish we did not, and then times when we fall blessedly back in love again. The think to know is that each of these places of our heart is a choice.

Love is a choice. Not loving is a choice.

I went through each of the three places in my heart many times with writing. Not understanding myself or the nature of love and attitude, I slogged through years of a dull writing life, with one foot out the door, thinking that I had to do something different. When that door opened wide enough, out I went. I transferred my writing affections to caring for a new home and a small boy. It was right to do at the time.

Now I arrive where the choice is to be made again. Am I to write? I dabbled for sometime. And then I made the choice to fall in love with writing, head over heels, all over again.

This is no immature love. I’m in love this time with eyes wide open. Every weekday, I meet my love of writing and work on my project, and in between that, I read and pay attention to words. I play with words and express the pictures I see in my mind, shaving here, refining there, trying to express what I see and feel and know. This love has nothing whatsoever to do with publishing but all to do with my relationship with writing. I know now that being in love with writing means I give it my commitment. I pledge my heart to the writing.

Commitment to our unique way of life, then is our task today and every day. It is not to be undertaken for our self-improvement, nor for salvation of the world or society, but simply because we can do no other if we are to be true to the individual hypothesis of our lives. ~ Helen M. Luke, Women, Earth, and Spirit

Gleanings: Pen on Fire and One Woman Caretaker Lets Go

“My women students, especially, grumble that there is never enough time to write and still get everything else done. Rarely do I hear a man complain about time, perhaps because–and I’m going to make a sweeping generalization here–men tend not to be the caretakers. Men make themselves and their needs a priority, after which they have time for everyone and everything else… But we women, we are so loaded down with commitments and obligations it’s no wonder we find little time to write.” ~ Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Pen on Fire.

It is a school holiday, so 8-year-old Grandson is here with me. But it is Monday, and a writing day. I got my cup of tea and said, “I’m going to be up at my computer.” Just now the dog has begun to bark at the backdoor. I started to get up and then stopped, sat back down. I choose to continue to write. There is a boy and a caretaker for my mother downstairs who can see to the dog.

This is a huge shift for me, a born-in-the-blood caretaker. A woman who was, as many Southern women were in my day, raised, and falsely so, from birth to be responsible for everyone and everything in the household and family. That bent of my nature and training has been the largest block to my writing. Yes, I’ve written some thirty-six books, but I was only able to do it because my son grew up and insisted on living his own life, my husband had a healthy life of his own, and we moved to the country far from neighbors, in effect isolating me and blessing me with long solitary hours.

Then my grandchildren came along and my elderly mother needed care, and my care-taking nature rose up and before I had any idea that my writing life was being shoved aside and buried under everyone else’s needs. Buried under my grandiose idea that I was responsible for holding up the sky. 

Now caretakers get a lot of scolding in this culture, but frankly, where would humanity be without us? The long line of cars picking up children at school give evidence of how much we caretakers are needed. When I look back at the past six years in which I’ve struggled to write, and only marginally succeeded, when I’ve felt frustrated and given out, I see that I did right in caring for people who needed me. And what joy I’ve received from giving of myself! I’ve grown in stamina and compassion and wisdom and loving deeply. But everything passes. It is time to fold the caretaker cape away, or at least hang it up for hours at a time.

For the past two weeks, Monday through Friday, I have committed to writing every morning. I have showed up each morning on the page of a new novel. I have done it on purpose, taken the steps away from care-taking everyone else, even the house, and turned to care-take my writer self. With each step, the writing becomes the powerful force of habit. And page by page adds up. The novel is taking shape, and with it my writing life draws breath. And so do I.

God bless all we writers.



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