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If You Want to be a Writer — Write!

The title of this post is a quote from Epictetus, a Greek sage (AD 55–135). I figured he was pretty wise – it took a lot of street smarts to live 80 years back then. Especially when he was a slave. So taking his advice on writing seems like a good move.

Another of my favorite quotes comes from a more recent writer, Ernest Hemingway. If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.

Both of these quotes are pertinent to my life, and this blog post in particular, because lately I had been thinking I wrote a book, I wrote a book. OMG, I have to write another book!

I spent the month of December and most of January relishing the fact that I finished my book, it is published, and I am actually selling copies.

“So why are you so glum?” Willoe entered and leaned on the back of my chair, looking over my shoulder.

Glum I thought. Was I really glum? Then I realized I was. “I guess I am a little blue.”

“Blue.” She turned me around and peered into my eyes. “Melancholy is more like it.” She stepped back and dropped into her worn leather chair. “You’ve been moping around for weeks.”

“Yeah.” I could feel the depth of my frown as I pushed back into my chair and looked down at my lap as I twiddled my thumbs. I knew she was right, but had been afraid to admit it.

“I have had a lot of fun with my book release.” I lifted my eyes just enough so I could see the sharp edged shape of her nose and her bright eyes.

“As well you should.” Her eyebrows knitted and I could understand her confusion. “You should feel proud what you have done.”

“Well, it is more than just being a little proud. My ego has been in overdrive and it has been a blast.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“I have to write another book.” I was taken back by how loud the sigh was that escaped my lips.

She didn’t speak, but the tilted head asked the question just as well.

“I have been coming up with every excuse I can, why I can’t find time to write. I think the problem isn’t that I can’t find time, I think the real problem is that the first book was so big, coming up with a book just as big, or nearly so, is such a daunting task. “ The sighs just wouldn’t stop. “So daunting I can’t seem to get started.”

Her lips twisted and she stared at the ceiling, a sign she was mulling over something. Then her eyes dropped back down and centered on me. “What was the most fun you had when you were writing Fire of the Covenant?”

“Well not Revision or Editing.” I grinned

“You won’t get an argument from me.” She smiled back. “But seriously, what engaged you more than anything else?”

Lately, I had been focused on all the hard things that I went through with the first book and not what had I enjoyed about it. But when she asked, the answer came easily. “Sitting down and telling a story. Having a general idea of where I want to go with the story and just writing it. Not focused on a specific goals, just telling the story.”

“Then you should do that.” She shook her head slightly like it was a no-brainer.

“That’s how I ended up with such a big book the first time.”

“So!”

“It will take forever.”

“So.”

“I have a lot of other things I have to do.”

“So.”

“What if it isn’t as good as Fire of the Covenant?” I blurted.

Her eyes narrowed. “Seriously?”

I opened my mouth to give another excuse, but there wasn’t anything I could say. It struck me that the only thing getting in the way of my writing… was me.

She let me sit for a few moments then asked, “What are you going to do now?”

“Tomorrow I am going to get back to writing the next book.” I smiled.

“What if the book is even bigger than Fire of the Covenant or if it takes you a long time to finish it?” She leaned forward saying the words slowly.

“It doesn’t make any difference. The story needs to come out and I need to tell it.” I felt like I had been hauling around a eighty pound backpack and just put it down.

She put a hand on my knee and with a self-satisfied smile told me, “We will tell it and it will be just as good as, if not better than, Fire of the Covenant.”

So if I don’t return an e-mail right away, or I don’t answer my phone, or if you see me and I look like I am daydreaming (well that is normally how I look), don’t be offended or worry about me. I am just writing my next book or thinking about it.

 

What are you keeping yourself from doing? Something that you know, deep in your heart, you can do, but something else, in your own mind, is throwing up roadblocks.

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