How We Write: The Soul of the Matter…

If you want to write, write. If you want to publish, prepare to work your ass off getting very, very good at your writing. This business is all about soul. And I’m not just talking about your unique, creative voice–though that’s incredibly important, too. Today, I’m talking about grit. Stick it out, find your own way, stop waiting for everyone else to make this crazy business sensible and welcoming and easy, G-R-I-T.

grit

I write my books; I edit for other authors. I’m close to offering my first two book contracts for Entangled Publishing. After publishing 16 novels of my own and reading countless propsals others have written over the years, all I know for sure is, this is all about soul.

  • Have you been rejected (like me)? Figure out if you have what it takes to get up the next morning and start over from nothing–because every published author must do that each and every time they meet a deadline.
  • Do you have a day job (like me)? Buckle down and accept that your personal life off the clock belongs first to the book you need to finish, not your hobbies and social (media) life–because the majority of published authors don’t make enough off their writing to support their families, so we’re all hoofing it to make ends meet while trying to stay creative in the dark hours of early morning.
  • Do you have a busy family (like me)? Love them and care for them, the tell them your entire life doesn’t revolve around them and they’re going to have to take care of themselves the 1,2,3 hours a day that you devote to your writing. Otherwise, they’ll consume you (and maybe that’s what you want, if family is the excuse you’re making daily for not creating new words).
  • Have you been dealing with an illness (like me)? Deal with it, by all means, your health is everything. But for Dog’s sake, knock off saying your illness is responsible for you not moving forward in your writing. I don’t mean to be insensitive or unkind, but whatever your condition is, I assure you I can find others who’ve managed to succeed battling far worse circumstances–because they refused to quit.

Soul is the thing that lives and breathes inside us, regardless of the piles of s**t raining down on our worst days. And on our best days, it’s the piece of us that sings the loudest, reminding everyone of who and what we are at our essential core. So, what are you? How strongly do you want that dream you say you want? How hard and for how long and through what difficulties are you willing to grit out this journey?

soul

Grit is what I call that indiscernible thing I’m looking for in my own work and the manuscript submissions I read. It’s my name for what drives us as artists to create, then to refine and revise and rework and create some more, until we’ve done absolutely everything we can do for a project. Grit is the magic we all hope to write and read one day. It’s the soul of every thing and every person who’s touched us in that indescribable way we’ll never forget.

I went for nearly 2 years before my thyroid issues stopped zapping every ounce of creativity away, not to mention the energy it requires to sit before a computer and write thousands of words a day on deadline. So, instead, I read research for 4 different projects (3 of which are being considered by publishers now). I upped my freelance editing business, because it took less concentration and allowed me to work in shorter spurts of time (and now I’m doing that as a second career). I got excited about my life again, despite the rest (and that excitement, I’m told by others, is shining through my new novels and every new endeavor I’m undertaking). It wasn’t easy. I nearly quit–every day. It took grit to keep going, but try as I did, I didn’t know how to quit. And here I am(hopefully), on the other side of it, wondering how I could have ever thought about stopping.

As I read for authors fighting I have no idea what obstacles themselves, and as I write my new books and look forward to seeing them published and hearing from their readers, it’s grit that I long to see. Mine and others. I want to feel that faith and determination and the beautiful inspiration and inventiveness that flourishes when we persevere until our dream becomes reality. I want to see that in every beautiful word. If I don’t, I instantly know something’s missing. That either you or I have only given a portion of ourselves. And it’s not enough. Time is too precious. We can’t afford to waste it on sort-of, maybe, kind-of creating or experiencing anything.

time slipping

Books/stories are our dreams playing out for the world to see. The courage it takes to touch another’s heart with our own, with nothing more than words strung together on a page, stuns me. Every time I see it in others or realize that core of pure steel that’s driving my own writing journey, I’m humbled that this is what we get to do with our lives on this earth. You inspire me, and I long to inspire you. Don’t short change that. Not a single word of it. Give your writing your all, your grit, every single day.

Put your soul in every word, my writer friends. Grit out whatever obstacle stands in your way. Slay every excuse that tempts you not to revise or resubmit or start over or learn whatever lesson is holding you back. Make yourself proud, be proud of your work, be prepared to do whatever it takes.

And in the middle of that insane journey, know I’ll be writing, too, trying to make this craziness work. It’s all about soul. Leave yours on the page. I’ll meet you there!

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5 Responses to “How We Write: The Soul of the Matter…”

  1. Susan says:

    Anna… Well put, and much needed in my world right now. Thanks!

  2. Cathy Tully says:

    Anna—-it’s like you read my mind!

  3. When the reviewers were being carnivorous, inspiration wasn’t coming, and self doubt was grabbing me by the ankles first thing every morning, my editor put it this way: “Write anyway.” She was right. When I pushed through all the emotional pollution to find the computer and write, a story came–not brilliant, not a masterpiece–and the air quality improved each day.

    And it isn’t as if not writing was an option, anyway. Keep thumping the tub, Anna–we need to hear it.

  4. Thumping away, Grace… Nice to know fellow inmates are listening ;o)

  5. Elaine says:

    Anna,

    LOVE this blog post!

    Elaine

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