The house is quiet, and smells of my favorite jasmine candle. Outside, Texas is thundering rain on the roof and windows. I can write for hours like this. I like to think maybe today, I will get the chance to do so. The honest truth is this thunderstorm will pass in about twenty minutes, the house will be alive with voices sooner than later, and my candle will burn out. Then it’s back to the perfectly non-ideal writing environment, but you know what? I’ll still write. Nothing can keep me from it.
My inner self drives me to write, not my outside circumstances. The voices in my heart gather from experiences, and drive my fingers to pick up that pen and paper and scribble like a mad woman. Various emotions, thoughts, memories, take on a personality and demand a life of their own. I let my muse write whatever it wants. This is where magic and power lies. If I handcuff my muse to a turkey platter and demand it write turkeys, it will write turkeys, but the turkeys, unlike Edward, won’t sparkle. Powerful writing is dependent upon you giving boundless freedom to your muse to roam and develop.
Life. So much simple life eats up our time, just the normal things you need to do to get through a week, a month– jobs, commuting, dating, spouses, children, family members, family issues, friends, neighbors, college, illness, loved one’s deaths, car accidents, doctor appointments /dentist / hair appointments, church, holidays, yard work, paying bills, getting a second job to pay the bills, and oh yeah, having fun –that when you have a spare second, that moment in the evening when the world is quiet, dark, and you are left with your own thoughts, a glass of wine on your desk, and a blank computer screen, it’s so easy to let the negative voice come out.
It discourages you because: another reject, there are those ‘other writers’ that are better than you, you don’t get grammar, what the heck is a ‘sympathetic character’? Or is it ‘pathetic character’? Are you supposed to be outlining plots or do you go all willy nilly all over the place- omg, does your writing suck? You feel like it sucks. Is this just a pipe dream? Your spouse/ girlfriend/ boyfriend/mother/preacher/brother/best friend/ co-worker thinks your writing is lame and childish – who reads anyway? What if the preacher finds out your character said the F word, and he thinks you are the one really saying the F word, but you really honestly don’t say the fucking F word, but he might think you do…
On and on and on these thoughts go until your glass of wine is gone, and you wonder what the preacher would think if he knew you just drank a glass of wine, and then you remember you have to take your grandmother to chemo tomorrow. You feel tired, drained, discouraged.
What happens next is what separates the people who succeed from the people who don’t. It’s not about genes, money, health, good looks, or ‘natural talent’. It’s what happens with that very next breath and decision you make. You either:
1) Stand up, drop your glass in the sink, brush your teeth, flop in bed exhausted – another day done and gone. You will rise tomorrow, none the closer to anything. In fact, you are falling backwards from your dream because you lack the motivation to move forward.
2) You tell all your doubts to go hell heck. You sit down and force those thousand or five hundred words. If you are writing a novel and the muse wants to write it – write it. If you are worried about grandma’s chemo because the nurse can never find her frickin’ vein and you know its going to hurt when the nurse inserts the needle, fishes around, draws it out, stabs it in again – you write a story about that anger, that fear. You just write it. And then, if you are writing flashes or shorts, you submit it – even if you think it sucks and it probably does. Doesn’t matter. You do it anyway. Someone will publish it. You keep writing, day after day. Night after night. And when you are done writing, you read. You read because you need to keep that creative tank filled with how the pros do it. You do it and you keep on doing it. You’re more exhausted than you would have been without writing and reading, but it’s okay, because you are working your dream, what you want. No one can take that from you. No one.
And this is what I’ve been doing.
I hope this speaks to you. I hope this causes you to ditch those doubts, fears, fatigue, and just go for it. Magic beans, golden pens, or supportive friends aren’t going to fulfill your dreams as a writer. Only you can do that, butt in chair, writing away when the whole world is sleeping or falling apart around you.
Decide not to let outside circumstances be a barrier to your muse. Let your inner voice speak, and write it – no matter what. Trust you to be you. This is your life, your dream. The only way to make it as a writer is to jump in heart and soul. That sounds so cliché’, huh? Sometimes the truths in life are cliché’. Deal with it.
My muse wants cheesecake. So far, the ingredients can be difficult to come by, but it tastes great, and it just keeps getting better.
Jodi MacArthur serves imagination raw on an open flame. Bring your fork to www.jodimacarthur.blogspot.com. Published online and in print, she is working on her first novel, Devil’s Eye.