Tuesday, October 20, 2020

My Not-so Glamorous Writer's Life (Heather)

Recently I signed a contract to have my first three books turned into Disney movies! And my series is currently ranked #1 on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and is likewise moving up the ranks on the NYT Bestseller list! And I bought a private jet to travel to the massive amount of book signings my publisher has lined up!


Okay, okay. JUST KIDDING πŸ˜‰ 

Sheesh, these Writer’s Life posts are a bit intimidating. Talk about a reality check! Thankfully, I know that most of my writer friends can relate. There’s usually not much to report on beyond: Yay! I wrote a chapter in my new novel this week! But there are weeks when I don’t even have that much progress to brag about (if you can call it bragging!). 

I’m in a small accountability group of speculative fiction writers (all of whom are more prolific than me) and I can testify that 2020 shall not be dubbed “the year of progress" for any of our seven members. Beyond COVID there have been a plethora of job losses, severe illnesses and diagnoses, heartbreaking family problems, school (and virtual school) dilemmas straight from the seventh level of Hades, and more. I’ve heard three different authors voice aloud their doubts about being able to write anything for the foreseeable future—there are too many other crisis demanding their energy right now. 

I believe the best part of being in this group, for myself anyway, has been to see that I am not alone in the struggle to write—and it’s not for lack of desire or trying. My mother has been seriously ill or incapacitated for a year now and her care takes up a lot of time. That's my reality right now. In fact, this post is about twelve hours late as I was supposed to schedule it for early this morning...but, alas, my schedule has fried my brain, and so I'm on the better-late-than-never train (with apologies!).

I think we’ve all found that just being able to spill our guts and know that others will be praying has been what keeps us checking in with the group. I’m so thankful for these women, most of whom I’ve never met in person, and that they have allowed me to share in their 'Writer’s Life' with them. Although it may sound as if I could get the same benefit from my church friends or family members (and yes, I do share my struggles with them) there's something about our collective call to write that brings a solidarity to our ongoing struggles. And, although I don't yet know the ladies here at Lands Uncharted very well, I'm doubly blessed to walk alongside another set of authors who understand my limping efforts to create.

Friend, are you a writer who is struggling? Well, it’s taken me a few years to wrap my head around this reality (after all, I DO write fantasy and am good at coming up with alternative possibilities) but, y’know what? THIS IS THE WRITER’S LIFE. Those mountaintop-moments of contracts and awards are few and far between (and I admit, they are FUN), but it's the nitty-gritty, everyday struggles that make up our career. 

Yep. Just gonna pull the bandaid off in one, quick swipe here. After that honeymoon period in which your first few articles, or short stories, or novel oozes out of your fingertips like sweet honey...this writing gig will hit rough patches that last longer than you thought possible. It's going to feel more like the Mount Doom in Mordor than the adrenaline rush of conquering Mt. Everest.

My advice? Find a few writerly friends and learn to celebrate and commiserate together. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall short of word count goals or cram for a deadline. No! Walk the writer’s life with other imperfect wordsmiths like yourself and you’ll begin to see you’re not a failure or an anomaly. 

You are just human. 

And humans need each other. Most of us writers are introverted by nature (INFJ much?) which means we do a pretty good solo act. But naval-gazing can lead to finding all sorts of problems with the size, shape, and pudge of your bellybutton…unless you find some fellow naval-gazers to talk to and learn with that your bellybutton is, indeed, perfectly normal. 

Isn’t it just like God to wire us so that we need each other? Yes, it can be hard to put yourself out there but it is worth the effort. Having other writer’s in my life has NOT triggered my inner-author Beast-mode. But it has helped to quell that inner-voice of condemnation that is so counterproductive and, often, destructive. I hope you’ll consider finding a group of like-minded writers (or whatever you love to pursue) to help talk you down from those mental-ledges as well!

I appreciate God’s reminder to us in 1 Corinthians 12:24b-27 "But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

Do you have a group of like-minded friends that hold you accountable, rejoice in your successes, and pray for your struggles? Tell me about them in the comments. Do you need to find some friends to walk with? Raise your virtual hand πŸ™‹and maybe a few of you can find a connection here! C'mon now, introverts, you can do this!

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