What I find most motivational during those dark hours of self-doubt is reading what other writers have to say.
Summer invaded. Visitors. Camping trips. Family. And my writing went the way of dead spring flowers—faded, dismissed but never forgotten—praying for a rain endowed wind or a hungry bird to escort them to fertile fields.
My novel, White Owl Dancing, reminds me it is waiting for me to revise, edit, and submit. As do Book 3 of my YA series, The Other Kind, and my novel Cleaner Man.
Writers rarely limit themselves to one project at time. It blew my mind when my first agent told me to write another book while he found a publisher for White Owl Dancing. For a first novel, there was some interest. But I fired the agent. (So dumb.) I thought, he’s crazy. Start another novel! No way.
White Owl was my firstborn, you see. It was my heart and soul. I couldn’t dare think of having another child.
That was twenty years ago. Now my White Owl novel beckons me nightly. And daily. And hourly. Get on with the nurturing, it demands.
As I edit and play catch-up, I dedicate this blog—and a couple in the making—to the advice given by those more established and successful than I.
As one writes, he/she/they do not experience loneliness, though she may live a secluded lifestyle. The writer always has those individuals—lovers, friends, family, demons—she creates.
All that quickly changes, however, when the writer drops her word.doc into a file at night, or in the predawn hours, and rubs her sleep-burdened eyes. A sense of, I’m all alone, creeps in and scurries about like dinosaurs. It leaves footprints that generate giant crevices in the muddy matter that occupies the space between the ears.
Some writers cave never to retrieve that word.doc from the file. I shamefully admit that I too have wallowed in the murky muck of the engulfing footprints.
Luckily, a family member, or friend, or stranger tossed me a rope in the form of a quote from a famous author. This rope rescued and pulled me from the hollows of the relentless pain of self-doubt.
A light in the attic flicked on and the dinosaur footprints disappeared.
I write the quotes on index cards and keep them within arm’s reach, a readily available source of nutrition for the mind and soul of a writer.
During my fall blog posts, as an origin of motivation and information, I offer some inspiring quotes I have used to pull myself from the murk.
In my search for the perfect inspirational and/or informative quotes, I found two very befitting passages that demanded to be featured at the very beginning of our endeavor so that a level playing field could be constructed upon which those following me might build, dance, play, and inevitably create.
Beware of advice—even this.
As a writer progresses in her career choice, she realizes how fitting Sandburg’s advice is. Everyone will offer you advice. Even me. Some of it will be priceless. Some of it will be garbage.
I had an editor once who told me not to use commas with the word too. She cleverly explained: too is too short of a word to warrant a comma. However, according to The Chicago Manual of Style, a comma before too should be used to note an abrupt shift in thought.
Example 1: I, too, like dogs. (Correct)
Example 2: I like dogs too. (Correct also)
Example one displays a shift in thought. The editor didn’t take the time to explain there are times you do use commas with too. So I made the mistake of never using commas with too.
To market my books, someone told me I needed to write a blog everyday. It didn’t take me too long to realize, if I wrote a quality blog every day there would be no time to do my real writing. Plus, as much as I enjoy writing my blog, it has yet to sell a single copy of any of my books. And I have heard this from other writers as well.
The only advice you can really trust is from those writers who have proven themselves. (And, of course, The Chicago Manual of Style.)
American poetry, described Sandburg’s success in the following way.
…whatever its other virtues, has seldom promised a path to fame and fortune. One lively exception was the work of Carl Sandburg, who achieved a celebrity before his death in 1967 that seemed more typical of a Hollywood screen legend or a Hall of Fame athlete.
Sandburg won three Pulitzer Prizes. Perhaps we should consider his advice.
Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience. — Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau died at 45, but during his brief life he filled twenty volumes with his works, unfortunately, only a small portion was published during his lifetime. In 1906, his journal with over two million words was published in full—a first for an American author. He is noted as being one of America’s most influential writers. His prose style has never been matched.
Do you have an inspirational quote from a famous author that pulls you from the murk? I’d love to hear it.