Today, I find myself sitting at the bookstore cafe with a grande soy chai, notebook and laptop open. Not an unusual scenario.
What is unusual, these days, is for me to be drawn to a book on writing. A book that promises to help me “become a more productive, resilient, and successful writer.”
Now, I used to devour these books daily when I first knew I wanted to write. It was how I taught myself to write. I read books on writing fiction, writing essays, writing from prompts, writing practice, the writing life, writing goals. You name it, I bought it and read it. What I didn’t do was write very much.
Oh, I’d write Morning Pages and I filled notebooks with writing practice gleaned from Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones.” I loved how she made writing so much more accessible by declaring that just as an athlete practiced drills or a pianist practiced scales, a writer also needed to practice. It bought writing back from that lofty pedestal I had placed it on. It took the fear out of it by calling it practice.
I hunkered down into my writing practice for years, filling notebook upon notebook. The problem was, I got stuck in practicing. Don’t get me wrong. It served me well. I learned to put pen to page and write under pretty much any circumstance. I learned how to make space and time for writing in the life I was currently living ( a stay-at-home mom with young children) instead of waiting for the perfect time. I learned to write past my censor.
But I didn’t use what I had learned to actually get in the game of writing. When I finally began writing stories, taking classes and workshops, that’s where the bulk of my learning took place. Writing and finishing stories taught me how to write.
I’ve written dozens of short stories, some published, some not. I have a completed novel-in-stories (looking for an agent). I am well into my second novel, about 6o,000 words into the first book of a YA fantasy trilogy and am beginning to gather notes for a memoir on writing and yoga.
So, with all that writing under my belt, why do I find myself drawn to this particular book today?
Because it’s a process.
Because I am always a student.
Because I am not afraid to be a beginner.
Because of course I want to be a more productive, resilient and successful writer.
Because now I know that I can read a book like this but, more importantly, I know I have to follow through with action: writing, querying, submitting, reading, setting goals and meeting those goals.
I know there are no quick fixes or shortcuts to being a writer.
I know that merely reading about becoming a successful writer is not enough but I am humble enough to be open to advice from others along the path.
I know that I am willing to put in the hard work necessary. And these kinds of books feel like my own personal cheerleading squad, telling me I can do it. Telling me that I am not alone.
Telling me that it’s okay, that we can walk this path together.
I am grateful for their company.