Pumping Iron

(May 2018) WRITING WEDNESDAY: Another birthday came and went, and I’m obsessed with blogs and books about how to get your financial state in order for retirement. The good news about writing is that even though it’s not usually lucrative, it’s something you can do when you’re older . . . and many readers are older women, anyway. While teaching can either be wearying or taking valuable time or energy away from your own work, spending most of your time writing can lead to more ideas or expand your notion on what you can write. I just read a blog how ageism is rampant in the high-tech industry where 30 is the average age of employees. The same is true for other corporations; you may want to work until you are 70 but you may not have a say in the matter. (It’s especially challenging for women.) If you have been slowly building a body of work, you will have a niche platform by the time you are in your 50s. It’s difficult to create that instantaneously. You are calling your own shots and digging your own path. I figure that I have 14 more years of writing left in me. I’m savoring this time of my life. Pumping iron (yeah, only 2.5-pound weights, but still) and eating more protein. I’m going to be working hard these last 14 years, but it’s a joy, not a burden.

Digital Junk

(August 2017) WRITING WEDNESDAY: If you have a pencil and paper, you can write. But we’ve made it much more complicated — with laptop computers, Microsoft Word, Scrivener, etc. For the past few weeks, I was having major problems with my laptop. The start-up disc kept filling up and when I attempted to find out what was eating the space, my computer indicated it was “Other.” I was madly trying to complete a couple of manuscripts and I couldn’t afford losing the time of taking my computer in to get repaired. I felt like I was sitting in a boat with a hole and as the water was entering my vessel, I was busy getting rid of unnecessary files to buy some more space. To make a long story short, it turned out e-mail messages were taking up 150G of my hard disk space! The problem has been remedied, my three-year-old computer system updated.

I did have to dump all my e-mails off of my laptop, and I have to admit that it has been surprisingly liberating. I feel like I have a fresh piece of paper without the weight of reminders of what I needed to do three years ago, not to mention the ubiquitous junk mail that seems to be sneaking into my Inbox. Marie Kondo has written about the merits of “tidying” up physical possessions, but for me, getting rid of my digital junk was the best move in my writing daily life.

Intention

(June 2017) WRITING WEDNESDAY: I’ve been thinking lately about intention. About why we want that big book or movie deal. Do we want it to make sure that our stories receive the widest audience possible? Or do we want it out of validation, to prove to people, both known (maybe even ourselves) and strangers, that we are indeed worthy to be pursued. I’ve come to the conclusion that the latter intention is a fool’s errand. Very few writers are going to be widely desired all throughout their creative lifetimes. That’s just a reality. Trends change, world events transform what people want, new writers enter the field. Somehow we as writers have to be okay with our insignificance. It’s humbling, for sure. But that’s where our work comes in. Make the work the No. 1 priority and be content with that.

Waiting

(August 2018)¬†WRITING WEDNESDAY: Much of a professional writer’s life is spent waiting. It’s from the very beginning. You send out queries and sample chapters to agents. And then you wait, sometimes for two, three months. You finally get the agent (this could take years, BTW) and then she sends out the sample chapters to editors. And then you wait again. It used to be the waiting at this point wasn’t that long, maybe a month. But these days, it’s longer–two, three months. It’s a wonder that any of us can make a living, not to mention the psychological toll of waiting. Over the years, I’ve learned how to better handle these times of waiting. One is to snag short-term projects–I call them cash crops–to financially buoy myself in these “in-between” times. I’ve been lucky, because usually I haven’t had to seek them out. They float my way and it’s up to me to say “yes.” (In other words, I’ve been able to sort which projects makes the most sense to agree to.) The second action item is to work on the next book. Don’t put all your eggs in the basket for the project that is on submission. This writer’s life is not for the weak-hearted. You need to be skilled in writing, but just as important is learning how to deal with the waiting.