This is my October post for Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group and guess what? Amazing Alex and his minion of helpers will be publishing a free eBook to benefit all
writers - The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond and it will include posts from this month. The eBook will be free and available for all eReaders by early
Five years ago, corporate America and family occupied most
of my time.
When the grind of the day
job got to me, like millions of people, I’d muse, Gee, wouldn’t it be cool to
write a novel
I imagined myself working
in a café part-time, so I had time
write the book, which was kind of like thinking
it would be cool to win the lottery.
I don’t play the lottery.
Then, in a workforce-reduction, expense management strategy, corporate-downsizing or whatever buzz-phrase suits your mood, my employer dropped-kicked
me across the parking lot, and within twenty-four hours of that pink-slip event, I
started writing. Not a novel. Nothing like a little layoff to
call that bluff. No, I wrote personal essays–unemployment therapy I suppose, but so much more. I wrote blog
post after blog post having recognized within hours of my job elimination whatever I did next in life had to involve writing and the only way to
get better at writing was to write.
It wasn’t fiction though.
Curiously, during those first butt-in-chair years, I did stumble
into a part-time job in a café. Well,
not a café, but pretty close. A gourmet
food and cheese shop selling prepared items and made-to-order sandwiches. And on the days I wasn't standing on a cement floor preparing panini's, serving up carrot hummus, or lugging cast iron pans to the sink, I planted myself in front of my computer and wrote.
But still. The idea of fiction drifted out there, mist at dawn—until an acquaintance recommended Julia
Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY, a book of
twelve week-long lessons subtitled A
Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.
Don’t worry. “Spirit” is
subjective, and if mine happened to be the ceramic vase sitting on my window
shelf, it would have worked in context of this book.
As I plowed through the program, each chapter forced me to
confront my creative future, to challenge myself to make my dreams happen. THE ARTIST'S WAY works for anyone, but in my case, each lesson said, you want to write
fiction? You are the only one stopping
yourself. Before I’d finished the
exercises in THE ARTIST’S WAY, I began
writing a novel, to see if I could get to the end, which happened, though the
result was so awful it was impossible to fix.
So, more butt-in-chair. Plus, I read writers on
writing. I gave myself timed writing
exercises and scene-stormed. I wrote a second book and submitted it to agents and received a request for one full manuscript that went
nowhere, form rejections and lots of cold silence. I took a Grub Street novel-in- progress
course. And then another.
I know. We’re well into
this piece and you expect to read I’ve got a novel coming out. Nope. Not yet.
Lovely word, “yet.” We needed better insurance, so I’m back working in an
office, almost full time. I get up early
every morning to write. If I can, I write
after work too. I’m getting ready to submit
my third novel to agents with this perspective. There’s no winning the lottery to it. Standing up in a café all day is brutal work, and writing a good novel is even more difficult. But thanks to Julia Cameron, I get it. The only person who can give up on me, is me.