Monday, June 2, 2014

If you want to be a writer.

Just a reminder that I'll be in Toccoa, Georgia at the Stephens County Library on Thursday, June 5, for a reading. The event will start at 10:30. Later in the day I'll be at Troup's for signing at 2:00. Hope to see you there if you live in the Northeast Georgia area.

Sometimes, I get this question, “What do you do all day?”

After decades of keeping journals, I became serious about writing for publication when I still had children at home and was also home schooling. I learned to write in between all the other duties I had. The children have split now, but I still have chores, so they’re interspersed between the times I spend at the computer.

My days don’t always look the same, but I start my day with a time with the Lord.  A couple of mornings a week, I write at a nearby restaurant, because they don’t expect me to clean, and I don’t have to drop everything and stop Mama Kitty from killing a chipmunk. I don’t have Carl and Wilbur sitting on the arm of my chair staring at me, either, making me feel like a specimen under a microscope. My office is in the sunroom. No door. Lots of distractions.
Other days, I'm at home with the zoo and spend a few hours in the morning at the computer. I may get up to put a load of laundry in the washer, to let Lucy out, or to deal with other duties at home.

After lunch, I’m back at it again at the computer.

Over the years, my inspiration for orchestrating life as a writer with other responsibilities comes from Newberry Medal winner, Madeleine L’Engle, who said, “. . . there is a constant balancing of priorities. We have to learn to turn away from the typewriter in order to cook dinner. And, yet, we mustn’t lose the train of thought.”

I love this life I have. When I think about doing anything else, tears well. However, writing involves many challenges.

It isn’t all about creating the story, the part I really love. It’s also about editing the story, so when people ask me what I’ve done all day, I don’t think they want to hear that I spent six hours getting rid of “ly” words, trimming just, that, and so from the manuscript and making my verbs stronger. I spend many hours doing tedious jobs that I’d like to hire out, but thus far, no one’s been willing to work for hugs.

No matter how long one writes, there will be rejections and criticism, which can kick the breath out of us. However, if we’re called to write, we lick our wounds, get up, and keep going. If we can’t deal with rejection, we’ll never make it as a writer. If we can’t take criticism, we’ll miss a premier opportunity to make our work better.

Another challenge is dealing with expectations of others. Books don’t get written unless someone writes them, and for me that takes sitting all day in a chair for many months. If I don’t watch how I use my time, the book doesn’t get written. If I allow distractions to overtake me, the book doesn’t get written. If I don’t set goals, the book doesn’t get written. If I have lunch out every day, the book . . . well, you get it. There are sacrifices that have to be made, and sometimes others besides me make them, too.

Having said that, I do try to balance time I spend alone writing with time with others. We can get a bit eccentric if we don’t keep connected to friends and family.

I heard a statistic lately that 23% of people in the United States want to be writers.

If you’re thinking about writing yourself, as you consider the life, ponder these questions:

Did you dream of being a writer as a child?

Do you already write even though no one reads it but you?

Do you write when you feel inspired AND when you don’t?

Do you see a story in everything?

Do you have something to say that could benefit others?

If you answered yes to these questions, then write, study, learn, and work on your craft.

L’Engle said there is no work too small and that it takes, “ . . . time and energy and considerable pain to give birth to even the most minor of stories.” She asks, “Are you willing to make the sacrifice? But if you feel that you are called, then I can promise you great joy as well as conflict and pain.”

To that I say, Amen.

“Your marvelous doings are headline news; I could write a book full of the details of your greatness” (Psalm 145:6 The Message).



Anonymous said...

Beverly, once again you have inspired me. Yes, I want to be a writer, and these are things I need to take to heart. I wish I could head north from Tallahassee to attend your reading and meet you, but maybe another opportunity will come. Thank you again for your words that always seem to encourage me when I need a boost. You are a blessing.
Beth Andrews

Beverly Varnado said...

Would love to have a chance to sit down and swap stories. Who knows but what we may have a divine appointment some day. I'm glad God brought encouragement to your heart today. Beth, you are a writer. Blessings, Bev

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Beverly, that means the world to me.

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