Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Growing as a Writer

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. ~Henry Ford

Once I stepped into 30 (sometime back), this became my mantra. Every birthday, I choose to reflect on the past year and make a resolution for the next. Generally, this is a private exercise, however since I’m scheduled to blog and it’s my birthday tomorrow…well, why not bring my thoughts into the public sphere. Give an account, make a commitment.

Last year’s resolution was to simmer myself in the writing craft. Seek out teachers I admire and spend time learning, honing, experimenting. I’ve been to conferences with wonderful panels, where I, along with throng of others, have rushed from one session to the next. The learning was fast and furious. I enjoyed and benefitted from these sessions.

But I wanted something more. So, this past year, I looked up favorite authors, admired publishing professionals and checked out their schedule and venues. In the end, I treated myself to two:
1. A week in New Orleans at the Pen to Press Retreat where I attended a master class with author CJ Lyons.
2. A weekend in Dallas with the wonderful Donald Maass at a Fire in Fiction workshop.

Both cost money and time, meant work while others played, but the best part was connecting with other creative souls, the sharing of ideas and methods, and getting re-energized. I brought back tons of notes, flip chart pages, books. Most importantly, I have brought back the experience and knowledge of two people who know and love the business, the craft and the joy of writing.

Of course, not all the advice given applies to my writing, but some of it resonates. And as I write, if I hit a stumbling block, I stop and consider my options. I find myself wondering what would CJ do or Donald Maass say. I work my way through.

Thanks to them, and to wonderful readers/CPs, I’m taking my WIP to the next level. I don’t want it to be good enough, but the best I can make it. Both the story and I have changed over the last year.

So another birthday, another resolution. This year I’m turning 38, just two years from 40. This year I resolve to dare. I’m going to start a new book. I will not worry about trends and markets. Instead, I will dare to write the story I want. I will not worry about making my main character likeable or flawed. Instead I will dare to let her be who she will be…a woman on her own terms. When opportunity knocks, I will not wonder if I’m ready or good enough. I will throw the door open and smile.

If it slams shut in my face, I will journey until I find another.


Callie James said...

Well said! Good for you.

I've recently hit this mark. Just write the dang book you want and to heck with the rest.

Good luck.


Heather said...

Happy Birthday! Great post.

Jeanie said...

Happy birthday and a big rah rah for your positive attitude! Keep on keeping on and you will get there. You are doing all the right things. May your next year bring you blessings.

RK said...

Dear Callie, Heather & Jeanie,

Thanks so much for the wonderful birthday greetings! Yes, I actually like having birthdays. :)
Glad you enjoyed the post!

CJ Lyons said...

Happy Birthday!!! I love your resolution--and thanks for the mention!

RK said...

Thanks CJ! So glad you visited :)

Carla Swafford said...

That's the way to do it!

Congratulations on another year, Rashda!

Naima Simone said...

Happy Birthday, Rashda!

And your goals are awesome! With the positive attitude you have going I harbor no doubts you'll achieve them!

Lyn Stone said...

When you're a writer, every day is research whether you like it or not! Happy Birthday!

Cari Hislop said...

Write what you want to write and you'll find there are readers out there wanting to read it. I write stories set in a Regency world that defy the genre. I don't think they'd be accepted by a normal romance publisher (I've never tried as I chose to self publish). One of my readers sent me a lovely e-mail the other month saying my stories were the sort she'd been looking for, for a long time. My stories aren't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but there are people out there who want and need my stories...and there are people out there who want and need yours! Write what you want and have lots of fun!!!