I read a blog last Friday that really resonated. Robin LaFevers wrote The Writer’s Life is Full of Second Chances (or: Abandon Despair, All Ye Who Enter Here) on Writer Unboxed (a great blog, BTW). There was one line that made such an impression I had to share it. She said, "Just as we must dance as if no one is watching, we must write as if no one is reading."
It's about taking chances, writing that novel for yourself, writing what you love (the book of your heart), even if you believe there is no market, that no publisher will ever take a chance on it. So, why did the blog make such an impact on me? I write futuristics. Not hard science fiction, more space adventure. Not a high-volume market. But that isn’t why I felt such a connection to LaFevers’ blog post. It was the part about second chances.
There was a time when my writing took a back seat to what was happening in my life. Still, I kept at it. Sort of. Then, writing was shoved into the trunk. I carried it around with me, thought about it, but didn’t do much. Then, writing was moved to the garage and finally stuck in the basement. Out of sight, out of mind. I had no energy left to even think about my stories. When “life” returned to normal, I had the time to write and discovered another truism—use it or lose it. I’d lost that creative spirit. The muse said bye-bye and I never noticed. (I guess she got tired of being ignored and went to inspire someone who appreciated her—like Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rolling, or the above-mentioned Robin LaFevers.)
It took a while but my creative energy came back. I issued an e-version of Switched, finished the sequel (which will be released shortly), wrote a YA futuristic, began a detective series, and I write this blog each week. How did I persuade the muse to return? I told myself to forget the career. I remembered the fun I had writing stories with my best friend in high school. We only shared them with each other. No turning them in for a grade in English class, no sending them to a magazine editor for publication. We wrote because it was fun. So that’s what I did to rediscover my spirit. I wrote for myself. It was very liberating. The enjoyment came back.
Throughout that difficult time, there must have been a tiny part of me that still hoped I wouldn’t be a one-book wonder. I never completely left the business. I kept up my membership in Romance Writers of America and my local chapter, but I rarely read trade magazines, ignored most of the writer loops, and pretty much went silent on the remaining ones. I hardly ever attended meetings. But when I did, I got kicks in the pants from writer friends about not giving up. Slowly, the desire to share what I wrote returned. Writing what I enjoyed was the key. That and the admonition from Galaxy Quest, “never give up, never surrender”.
I’m reminded of another movie quote, this time from Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come.” It certainly has for Robin LaFevers with her teen assassin nun in Grave Mercy. Doesn't that premise sound intriguing? It's definitely on my to-read list.
Time will tell if this is my second chance. In the meantime, I’m still writing. I’m still having fun.