When Life Gets in The Way

My wife’s recent and serious medical issues caused a downshift to writing. Time slipped away between caring for Linda, our animals (including proxy ownership of a rescue puppy), preparing meals, and the Eight Hour Grind of earning wages.

Reminded by a friend of the John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” I did what I could, wrote in scraps of time when opportunity presented itself, because, after all, I must write to ward off the insanity threatening to creep in and devour me.

(Interestingly, during my research, I learned the John Lennon quote is not his at all, but first appeared in the January, 1957, Reader’s Digest Quotable Quotes section, penned by Allen Saunders:

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
—Publishers Syndicate).

Sitting down and concentrating on creation proved a luxury beyond my means. I still made notes, jotted down ideas for future writing and posts, but the ability to complete a piece of writing (even a story scene) evaded me beyond the regretfully inconsistent Knights of Writ posts. Although meager in number this year (medical issues started on New Year’s Eve), I am grateful for the Blog and the many followers who helped keep me going.

Lack of writing is not and was not Writer’s Block, which does not exist (more on this in a future post), but time restraints, pure and simple.

I believe in daily writing goals, be it 500 words or an uninterrupted hour: daily is the operative word. But sometimes life gets in the way.

Regardless of what life throws at you, write when time allots, whether five minutes, a half hour, or 90 seconds to jot a note or observation. And don’t beat yourself up. Regardless of the time you have (or the lack), keep the writing wheels greased, no matter how meager. When the maelstrom abates, you will be prepared, and the mind will not have become a rusty and neglected tool.

While besieged by life, note the feelings bombarding you (anger, despair, helplessness, confusion, etc.) as they are fodder for your characters—your emotions are the best source to enhance the readers’ experience with the people you create.

My mind remained active throughout the ordeal, dodging back and forth between preparing Linda’s medications and observing emotions to imbue into a character. During showers, entire scenes played through my mind, hints of character’s subdued emotions and secrets. Despite not writing at the moment of inspiration, which I encourage whenever possible, even now, weeks later, the impressions are cemented into my subconscious, huddling there for future use. This is as it should be.

As to Linda’s current health, she rebounded with great vigor—as I write, she is gardening—and her condition is now a matter of maintenance. For that I am grateful, and though worrisome while in the throes of tests, doctors, and still more tests, the events and emotions are available for future writing. After all, for writers,

Life is what happens between writing it down.

And now, excuse me while I draw forth one of those too-close-to-home emotions and pour it onto an unsuspecting character. I wonder how they will react?

See you on the next page,

Rick

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Author Wanted: Courage Required

One must be courageous to write, to remove oneself from family and friends to tap thoughts on a keyboard. To be a writer one must fight the onslaught of time constraints, the torrent of second-guessing, and storms of doubt that ravage an otherwise positive outlook.

Fiction writers face the daunting task of shaping imaginings into a sensible and logical story, all the while hoping to entertain a stranger thousands of miles from where creation sprang. Writers live (some may say are haunted) with their thoughts, their characters, their dreams, wondering if they have the necessary skills and talent, and in essence, a vision to impart and be understood. But that comes later.

The first and foremost task the writer must master is the writing itself, and this is a special kind of bravery. Daily writing is ideal, and some claim (as I do) that nothing is as valuable as the habit of daily writing. Whether 200 words or 2,000, keeping the mind limber and active each day ensures improvement the following day, and so on. At times it is difficult, seemingly impossible, to forge those pictures from your head to words on a page, but it must be done—no different than those days you abhor going to the day job, but report nonetheless.

Writing takes time, effort, but most of all passion—writing is hard, and without passion, one cannot garner and sustain the courage to face the continual battles creation entails. You have that kind of courage, that will to succeed and improve, or you would not be reading and/or following the Knights of Writ.

The next step is harder still: others must read your work. Only then does one gravitate from writer to author.

First, friends will read your story, maybe a family member or two, perhaps an acquaintance who demonstrates the same love for writing. A critique group might follow, and it will hurt: not everybody will share your vision. Learn from them, acknowledge their right to not like phrases or word choices, or maybe they didn’t understand at all. It’s okay to be hurt by criticism, but the hurt must be turned into a determination to improve. Write more, improve—gaining skill is automatic.

Writing is a continual learning process, and even criticism can benefit your growth as a writer.

The following step is sending your “child” into the publishing wilderness where you are convinced pariahs lurk around every tree, intent on devouring what strength and confidence you built, bit by painful bit, during creation and revision.

Take Heart. Arch those fingers toward the keyboard and turn those imaginings and dreams into a reality. Let the critics scoff, if they must. It is not your job to worry about the reaction . . . your job is to write, to produce, to improve.

Remember this: opinions are like body orifices—everybody has several. Do Not allow the critics to take you down because you are striving for a better good, that is, to satisfy the yearning to write, the very need to write that which grows from your heart to your head and finally to your fingertips.

Be courageous and write that story because nobody else can do it like you.

See you on the next page,

Rick

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