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Sunday, August 21, 2011

What Writers Need

Last week I attended a fund raising event for a woman who has brain cancer. The event was held by an athletic organization with all proceeds going to this member of their community.

It was touching to see these extreme athletes--many of whom follow the same types of exercise that, as their website claims "many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide"--compete with intensity and joy.

To say that I was out of my element is understating the case.

I saw on a number of tee-shirts a phrase that went something like this:

"What do you prefer?
The pain of discipline
The pain of regret"

And I couldn't help but wish I could buy a bunch of these shirts and give them out to my writers.

It seems these athletes know what many writers do not:

that one must try. And with trying, comes failures. And after enough considered failures, comes bits and pieces of improvement. And that this improvement is not final and requires testing. That the testing sometimes comes in the form of competition. That competition is really between the competitor and herself/himself not other readers/editors/publishers.  That competition leads to a certain kind of success. That there are many forms and levels of success. That success, ultimately, will arise from personal definition. That persistence, self-correcting focus and faith are elements, not only of success, but of a strong character. And this strong character is what will allow for the writing down of that which needs to get written  in the best possible way with, as one poet has said, with "the best possible words."

And this is success.


Anastasia said...

Thank you Lois.

Lois Roma-Deeley said...

Anastasia, you are most welcome.

karmenghia said...

I've heard that old 'it takes about 10,000 hrs of practicing something to become an expert' thing so many times in the past few years and I think there's something to it. When you think of the time and effort involved it can be scary and tiring. Perseverance is what makes us stronger in any area in our lives. Although I've worked well over 10,000 hours on sports and working out (in my lifetime) I don't enjoy it anymore...but I still do it. How is it that I love to write, but often that is the thing that gets pushed to the side because of the this whole thing called life? Something is wrong

Lois Roma-Deeley said...

I think the key to the writing life is to think about it as three-tiered activity. And, most importantly, to observe how we define--to ourselves--those tiers. For example, I see the three areas of writing as process, product and productivity.The first is creative process That is, I define creative process as the ways in which I engage with my imagination and how that activity gets translated to the page. The second tier is the creative product--this includes actual writing and revision(s). The third tier is creative productivity which I define as the "business" side of living a creative life. This includes, not just publishing efforts, but being involved in my writing community.

These definitions create expectations for me. Expectations create boundaries. With boundaries comes a sense of what is possible, necessary and "do-able." Add it all together a sense of purpose emerges. With purpose comes perseverance.

With perseverance comes a sense of accomplishment that is not dependent on anyone--anything-- but myself.