Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Writer Regrets

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak on a panel at a writer's retreat in a gorgeous lodge in Sundance. The food (three meals) was cooked on site by a professional chef and was amazing, the lodge and surrounding views were gorgeous, and I got to hang out with fellow writers and editors for a whole was as incredible as it sounds.

That's me rocking the panel with Valynne Maetani,
Courtney Alameda, and Marion Jensen. 

Author Mette Harrison hosts these retreats about once a month. Contact her if you're interested and she'll give you more info. on pricing and schedule. You can't beat a private critique session with a visiting editor/agent in addition to a great day of writerly classes. (And the location!)

Our panel was about breaking into the publishing industry, and I think it was a success. Our scheduled one hour morphed into two-and-a-half as the questions kept coming, and I enjoyed every minute of it. One topic brought up was about what we regret in our experience so far in our publishing journey, and for the first time, I voiced something I've kept quiet about until then...

I wish I never started writing.

I know. Possibly the worst thing to say at a writer event, but on most days, it's true. I started writing in 2010 as a bucket list item to check off. But once that writing fire was lit, I couldn't keep it under control and it spread. If I had known what this writing life would be like, I don't know that I would have started. Because it's hard. So so hard. There are oh so many ups to balance those downs, but all that movement can make you kind of dizzy too.

I've been more emotionally unstable, anxious, stressed, depressed, impatient, and frustrated in the last few years than I've ever been before, and the insecurity I feel has only increased the longer I do this--it's like the more I learn what good writing is, the more I realize my writing needs A LOT of improvement. My house is a mess, I don't get enough sleep, my family eats a whole lot of cold cereal and pizza, and I don't have time to volunteer for so many worthy causes I wish I could. Life would be SO much easier if I wasn't a writer.

I've tried to quit. Really, I have. But writing is like a drug. I'm fine at first, but then I start to have withdrawal symptoms--anxiety, insomnia, restlessness. I can't concentrate on normal everyday things and feel depressed and cranky all time. And none of it goes away until I get that next fix: fingers on the keyboard, playing with the characters and stories in my head.

Do I regret becoming a writer? No. I don't regret it. I LOVE writing, now that it's a part of my life. A part of me. But if I had the chance to choose it again, I'm not sure I would. So if someone asks me if they should become a writer, I'll probably tell them yes...but only if you can't NOT write. And you love it. REALLY love it. Because it will kick your butt.

Do you love being a writer? Think you could quit? Any writer regrets?

I get to see this band live tonight along with Paramore and New Politics. I can't wait!

My songs know what you did in the dark...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Butt. In. Chair.

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I've been through those times before. You know the ones. Where you hit a wall and either have no idea where to go next in your book, don't have the motivation to finish and just want to start a new project, or need to take a break from writing all together because you just aren't feeling it.

I'm going through that now. Where all I want to do is work on the book I'm excited about, NOT the one I HAVE to write with a tight deadline and no desire to do it. But I have to, because it's my JOB. And did I mention tight deadline?

I have to constantly tell myself: Butt in chair, Ilima. Butt in chair! I've decided to take it one day at a time. I WILL do this.

How do you motivate yourself to keep going when you REALLY don't want to?

I keep feeling smaller and smaller...