“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ~Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Detective
This post is for a writer friend who has been feeling “empty” recently. We all know the feeling. It’s no fun. I hope this helps—at least until spring arrives.
Lee Smith’s “A Life in Books” Talk
Author Lee Smth’s AWP Conference Atlanta 2007 Keynote Address is available as a free podcast, and I strongly recommend it for anyone who needs a passion boost. Smith’s memories of obsessive childhood reading and writing, not to mention her warmth and musical voice, may re-awaken the feeling of writing simply because we love to. Consider her description of writing what is in essence “fan fiction”:
“I started writing in the first place, because I couldn’t stand—and this is as a child—because I couldn’t stand for my favorite books to be over, so I wrote more and more chapters onto the ends of them. I wrote many, many chapters onto Heidi, for instance, and The Secret Garden, and Misty of Chincoteague.”
Oh, do her words bring back fond memories of a childhood in books! I am also reminded of one of my favorite quotations about writing, from Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
The Value of a Single Page
The second inspiration I found recently is from a two-part guest post on Writer Unboxed with debut novelist Jeffrey Small. I really needed this part of his advice this week:
“4. Write one page at a time.
The thought of writing 400 pages of a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end that has all sorts of twists and turns is intimidating to point of being paralyzing. Novels, however, are not written in one fell swoop. Each day, I had to sit down and begin by starting with a single page, just as twelve step programs encourage their members to take one day at a time. Rather than focus on the end product, or even the challenges that might face me in the next chapter, I set a modest goal for myself: 1000 words a day, about four or five days a week. But I always starting with that first single page. Day by day, the pages began to add up.”
Small also offers this encouragement:
“When I was in the midst of receiving rejection after rejection, I spoke to an old high school friend of mine who is now a best-selling YA author. She said these very simple words that became the most meaningful advice I received through this entire process: Giving up is not an option.”
He goes on to tell how his friend wrote five books, all rejected, in five years before she sold her first novel, which then went on to become a bestseller: “I took my friend’s advice and vowed that I would never give up. Instead of writing five books over five years, I just kept rewriting the same book over five years, until it became good enough.”
If Winter Comes…
Finally, when all else fails, change is the one thing we can always count on. As Shelley wrote,
O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? ~ “Ode to the West Wind“
It’s coming. I promise.