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Archive for the ‘Inspirational Post of the Week’ Category

Me and Kerrie Patterson - both gritty writers

Me and Kerrie Patterson – both gritty writers

Just recently, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I write, why I write, where I get inspiration from, and how it is I can keep going when the obvious rewards (publishing, money) are so minimal and rejection is so rife. All good questions and I’m not going to answer all of them here as I’d go on for pages and pages trying to cover it all.

However, I will answer the how I keep going part despite the negatives, because I think that’s an important subject for all writers – for anyone actually who is wanting to do anything and stick at it.

It all comes down to grit.

Aint Love GrandI always associate strongly with music, and there have been a few songs which have spoken to me a lot about the drive to keep going despite all the odds and the push backs and the rejections. I actually sang these last year at the Romance Writers of Australia, Ain’t Love Grand! conference last year. The weekend’s theme was a cabaret one, so it seemed to fit, especially with my background in performance, primarily in cabaret and theatre restaurants. I sang ‘Maybe this time’ from Cabaret, a song the editors at Harlequin Australia had asked me to sing at the cocktail party they sponsored after they found out about my performance background.  I was very happy to sing this song, as I play it to myself (and sing it to myself) a lot when I’m struggling a bit to find the oomph to keep going. It speaks to me about never giving up, always looking to what you want, even when you keep getting knocked to the ground over and over. I finished with ‘They just keep moving the line,’ from the TV musical, Smash, another favourite song to listen and sing to. It once again is about putting your head down and just keep marching forward, keep reaching for the goal, even when that goal is moved over and over again. It was an amazing pleasure to share these with my writing friends and compatriots at the conference and I know that those songs spoke to them as well.

Singing about grit

Singing about grit

But to go with these songs, I had to write a speech to go with them, to explain why there are important to me, what they give me, and why I think the meaning behind them can speak to others as well who are in this crazy writing journey as well. I closed the conference with this speech, and it went over well, but I didn’t really think much about it afterwards. However, given the conversations I’ve had lately with a number of people about how I do this, how I keep on keeping on, it seemed to me that the best thing to do is to share the speech I gave to RWA members last August and hope it speaks to others now as it did then.

GRIT – A WRITER’S BEST FRIEND

With this being our 25th year, and with the Olympics having just been on, it has made me think about what it is that drives people and organisations like ours to success. What made Lynne Wilding and her fellow romance authors think they could succeed in this industry all those years ago when they were stuck here in Australia, so far from the home of romance publishing OS and what made them think that they could start RWA and wish to succour and help other authors like them? What kept them going through the hard times? And for that matter, what makes any of us want to excel at something, to turn it from a hobby to something more, to exceed expectations, to overcome difficulties, stress, personal and physical struggles, to enhance our own abilities to the point of success and then do it all again?

Are we touched with madness? Are we delusional? Were the ladies who started RWA either of those things?IMG_1008

I don’t think so. I think it is something else that drives us – and them – to what others perceive of as madness.

Many people say, ‘Oh, I wish I could become a writer,’ or ‘I wish I had time to write,’ or ‘I know I could be a brilliant writer, if only…’ but it takes a certain kind of person to rise above those procrastinating sentences and to actually put the hard yards in to make the time, to learn to be brilliant, to take a wish and make it real. Lynne Wilding and her fellow authors who started RWA were that certain kind of people. And I think that none of you would be here today if you also weren’t that certain kind of person. But what is it in us that makes the difference between the ‘I wish’ and the ‘I do’? (and yes, that is the world’s worst pun for us and the HEAs we write!)

The one essence that rises above talent, or natural proclivity or drive, is GRIT. Yes, grit. Psychological research states that grit is as important in a person’s ability to succeed as talent or drive. What is grit, I hear you ask and why do I think you might like to hear about it? The reason I think you need to hear about it is that everyone here is dusted over with varying layers of grit – and you thought that was the tiredness of the long weekend you’ve just got through! No, you’re not tired and covered in dust – you’re just gritty.

Grit is the ability to keep driving through, no matter the obstacles, to pick yourself up and dust yourself down after knockbacks, to get on with the myriad, boring little activities and repetitive tasks that ensure expertise in something; the knuckling down when it seems hopeless and finding some way, any way, forward.

Eddie the Eagle movie poster

Eddie the Eagle movie poster

Have any of you seen or heard of Eddie The Eagle? He was a British man of no particular talent who decided that he wanted to go to the Olympics. However, he was only the 9th fastest skier in Britain at the time. And he’d tried many other sports before he’d hit on that one. When everything seemed to be ranged against him, he looked up, pressed on, and found a sport that nobody in Britain had pursued in a competitive way since 1929 – ski jumping. Despite having no sponsorship and many other obstacles in his way (including people telling him that he was demented), Eddie the Eagle found his way to the Winter Olympics in 1988 and won the heart of the spectators, media – and the world. He did it because he never gave up. He wasn’t good – just good enough to qualify. His jump was less than half that of the person who actually won. And he came roundly last. But that didn’t matter. He wanted to do it and he found a way. He didn’t give up. He had grit. And he succeeded in his dreams of participating in the Olympics.

I think RWA has had grit – despite hard times of almost bankruptcy – where a few, wonderful women knuckled down and wouldn’t give up because they didn’t want to lose what was so precious to them and others (see, grit). Despite the knocks our genre regularly gets from the media and literary types, our organisation has persevered, we’ve grown, we’ve got better, we hold onto what’s important and look to the sky, like Eddie the Eagle, wanting to fly. RWA has grit.

Lana and Daniel - more gritty writers

Me, Lana and Daniel – writers with grit

And as individuals, each and every person in this room has grit. You have to hold onto that grit no matter what, because this industry is ever changing. It can feel like you’re flying one moment only to hit the snow pack hard and feel bruised and broken because you’ve got a bad review, or not done well at a comp, or your critique partner doesn’t like what you’ve written, or your book didn’t sell and your publisher won’t publish the next book, or your self-published or traditionally published book is just floundering in a sea of other books. Feel sad – have that pity party for one, I’m not saying don’t. But then dig deep. Use that grit I know you have and raise your head back to the sky and forge on. Read, watch TV or the movies, go out with family or friends, play sport, go to the gym, sink into another hobby that brings you joy, do whatever you need to do to fill that well and make yourself feel better and then get stuck back in. Because nothing is truly worthwhile in this world when it’s too easy, when it’s handed to you on a silver platter. When you’re in the depths of despair, it can feel like that would be nice – I’d rather like someone to just float on by and tell me how brilliant I am out of the blue and give me everything I’ve ever dreamed of. But is that likely to happen? Nope. What is more likely is that the grit that’s inside me, the thing that makes me want this and hold onto that dream for grim death and never give in, will rise up with a little bit of coaxing from me and carry me forward.

RWA logoSo, going forward, I wish you all grit. I hope you have enough to cover yourself in it, to breathe in its gritty-grittiness, to feel the coarse-edginess of it on your skin, toughening you a little bit more, making you harder to knock down. And for this next year, while I am still president, I promise you that RWA will continue to have grit too, will continue to help you, work alongside you, be there for the good times and the bad, give you a helping hand to get back up, yell at you a bit when you stay in your pity party a bit too long (but nicely), and help give you the strength to make that grit truly mean something in the end.

 

I love series, whether in book form or on TV or at the movies. I love when there are characters to follow and a story arc that encompasses episodes or books that requires me to remember events and references from former episodes/books to help give depth and greater understanding of what’s going on. I love the cleverness of the writing when something is references in the VERY FIRST EPISODE and then the payoff for that is in the last episode/book. It blows my mind and makes me go back to watch/read the series over and over again to enjoy it all over again, and if it’s really good, get even more out of it on each read/viewing.

It’s nice to know others think that series are pretty hot shit too. Check out what Kristen Lamb has to say about why she thinks series are amazing, are coming back into popularity (although for some of us, they were never ‘out’ in the first place) and why we need them. Love this.

Series and psychopaths: the author sadist and why authors love the pain.

I was going to write a great and insightful piece on what I love about writing descriptions, but once again the brilliant Kristen Lamb has beaten me to it and has really hit the nail on the head.

I bow down in awe and wonder and freely put on my padawan hair tail once more – although, I don’t think I ever took it off, still being firmly in the learning process of this writing thing I do. I’m in the process of writing a new romantic suspense and re-editing Healer Moon and Seer’s Blood, so I will most definitely be keeping this in mind while doing that. No, ‘her black hair hung around her face’, or ‘she sat on the green chair in the corner’ for me. I will endeavour to be far more clever than that (note, I said endeavour. Perfection is a long long way away!)

I hope you enjoy her blog on descriptions as much as I did and get a huge amount out of it. If you get even a little inspiration and learn something, then my job here is done. 🙂

I’m not sure how many of you out there are migraine sufferers, but I can tell you, it’s a horrifying thing I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy or arch nemesis. Not that I have a worst enemy or arch nemesis, given I’m not a superhero or X-man or live in a fantasy or sci-fi show or book! My life just isn’t melodramatic enough to have a ‘worst enemy’ or ‘arch nemesis’. Although, if I was to say something was that, it would in actual fact, be my migraines.

They are the interrupter of plans, the destroyer of lovely days with the family and the heralder of pain I would rather not experience again, but know I will, regardless of how careful I am about what I eat and drink, how much I make sure I get to bed early to try to get a good night’s sleep and do all the things I need to do to reduce stress. They are an unwanted journey my body insists I go on every now and then when things are just not going right inside. I call it a visit to Migraine City. I’d prefer to never have got acquainted with Migraine City, but I have been making visits since I was 9. Mostly, they don’t come more than a couple of times a year, but there are times when other factors can make them worse.

When I was pregnant and going through IVF, they were at their absolute worse. I journeyed to Migraine City regularly, with many days recovering from my trips there – the Migraine Hangover Days. Not to mention those days spent in the outerlying suburbs, where the growth of a nasty headache is the passport through to the centre of Migraine City. Sometimes there were very few days between these times and I spent much of that period of my life living with the threat of the next trip looming close on the horizon. Those days, thankfully, fell behind me as I worked hard at righting all the things that were made not right by the IVF and pregnancy woes I endured.

Then, a few years ago, I was injured and my back, neck and shoulder were affected and the headaches and trips to Migraine City started up more frequently again. It is an ongoing issue that I am trying my hardest with trips to the physio, massages and the occasional accupuncture to deal with. At the moment, my neck particularly is out (which can give me headaches and migraines) and my hormones are not being good little hormones, so it was no surprise I got a migraine. I managed to fend it off a week ago with medication and half a day in bed, but I was foolish to think it might have gone away. My trip into Migraine City had only been postponed, not avoided completely.  Yesterday was a horrible day and today I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck – my muscles are weak and aching and yet tight at the same time and I have a dull headache I know won’t go away for a few days. My hearing is still a little touchy and my sinuses, ears and throat feel like I’ve had a cold and are a bit touchy and sore.

Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband and family who are incredibly helpful so that I don’t have to worry about getting the boys to and from school, call work to organise someone to cover my shifts, pack lunches, remind the boys if it’s music or sports day and so on when I am curled up in bed, clutching my head and am hardly able to think around the pain to speak, let alone organise the ins and outs of my day. I still have to catch up on everything I missed yesterday, and my writing schedule is now behind, but I couldn’t imagine having to go through this without the help I have. Every time I have a migraine and am laid up in bed for a day or two or three, I thank whoever is in charge of such things for the family I have. My family can’t visit Migraine City with me, (and I would never want them to actually come with me) but I am thankful they are there, ready to pick up the slack and pick me up on the other side when I stumble out.

Who do you have around you to make the shit times better? I hope you all have someone – it’s a hard road to do it all alone.

This isn’t normally a post day for me, but I just read this blog post by Kristen Lamb and had to share it with you:

Everybody Arcs – How to Use Emotional Growth to Propel the Story and Capture the Reader

I just love the way Kristen explains things. I find her take very inspirational and it’s certainly helped me in my journey to publishing Dark Moon and Killing Me Softly. I hope you find her blog useful too.

I just read this and I have to share. I think it’s a wonderful, motivational ‘go write the sucker out of that thing, you writer, you’ kind of piece.

You can find it on Chuck Wendig’s  oft quoted by me site. I just find what the man says to be nuggets of wonderful truth wrapped up in a loving punch. I hope you find inspiration in it too.

Now, in Chuck’s own words:’

‘Writers write.

So go write, writer. What are you still doing here?’

Yes, Lord Wendig, I will go and write the third in the Witch Were Chronicles. First there was Dark Moon, then Healer Moon (currently with beta readers) and now, on to writing Blood Moon. Hi ho and away I go.

Romance Writers of Australia