Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What's holding me back?

                Here I am, January 2014, and everyone thinks I’m piddling around playing at writing. I recall a former supervisor who once told me my work never was stellar. It was a snide remark designed to hurt me. (I later decided she was envious of me. At the very least we had a personality conflict. We didn’t like each other very much. Mom always did say everyone wasn’t going to like me. Oh, well. I always have been a little independent.)

                Then yesterday a young man in our community said he didn’t want to be insulting but he wasn’t aware of any of my work being published. It was a post online so I interpreted him to be questioning my claim to being a writer. My own spouse says the same kinds of things. I look at the piles and shelves and drawers and boxes of papers and files of articles, research, stories, flash drives and floppy disks and can’t fathom how he can see all of it and ask, “How long is it going to take you to start that book you started 30 years ago?”  He really has no idea.

                Ah. Maybe the thing is, he’s trying to push me to write and sell so I can carry us financially while he…does what? He never has been much of a supporter of what I do. It’s hard to be a believer when you don’t understand a profession…and writing is a profession you aren’t going to understand unless you are one.

                The point I’m trying to make is that there are reasons (excuses?) that hold us back from achieving those dreams and goals.

                I was cleaning a bit in my office/study the other day, I found a story I had written a while back and asked someone to critique it for me. It was an important story, he said, but didn’t have enough action. (Or did it lack tension?) It needed work, he said. (Ah! Light bulb above my noggin.)

                When I submitted my thesis novel to a publisher he came back with “This is an important story that needs to be told.” Two men had made the same statement, a very important statement. This is an important story.

                So, what should I do with it?

                I wrote a children’s picture book when our twin daughters (now 26) were small. Mom liked it. I edited it. Mom said I had been too heavy-handed because I had taken the heart and soul out of it. I never touched it again.

                In November I found a rough draft technique that allowed me to write a complete rough draft. I used a journal and hand wrote the story from start to finish. I could see how many pages I had written, how far I was proceeding and when it was time to start to move toward the resolution.  I did it again with another story in December. If I hurry, I will have a third one for January. I have written “books.” The next hurdle is revising and editing. You have to start revising and editing sometime, that little voice inside my head says.

                Patti Capel-Swartz says editing is the fun part.

                Someone else – I can’t recall who it was – said it’s the worst part. I guess it doesn’t matter which it is or whether it is. If I’m going to publish a book, I have to do it, fun or not.

                2014 is MY year. I’ve been preparing for 2014 for two years. MY YEAR. So I’m going to put the polar vortex to good use, drink hot tea and café au lait and write … write … write … And edit … edit … edit ... The words have to come from the heart and the hearts of my characters. What I say must be believable through the course of the story. And I need to follow Maureen’s advice, Just write a good story.

(c) 2014 Cathy Thomas Brownfield ~ All Rights Reserved.

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