There’s a lot of unhappiness out there in Writelandia. As I blogged last month, many writers feel overwhelmed with tasks from turning around edits in ever-faster times, to promoting on social media, giving library talks, answering readers’ questions; dealing with our use of diverse characters, even accusations of cultural appropriation. If you’re indie publishing you add in hiring cover designers, professional editors and other help.
All while incomes seemingly dwindle before our eyes.
As I flagged last blog, next weekend my agent and I are presenting a session at the annual conference of Romance Writers of Australia. Our topic – getting back the joy of writing. Because yes, despite all of the above, writing should be creatively rewarding. This doesn’t mean you have to skip to the keyboard singing. But it shouldn’t feel like drudge work, as I’m hearing it does for too many writers
Like any profession, writing has challenges. They keep the work interesting. But writing should give you joy at least some of the time. Anything else is a recipe for burnout.
Among my favourite mood lifters are inspirational books and posters. One in particular has inspired me throughout my long writing career. You may have heard of The Desiderata. For many years it was believed found in an old Baltimore church and dated 1692. We now know it was written by American poet, Max Ehrman.
I’ve written this version to inspire writers. The italic lines are from the original poem. The interpretations are mine.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.
How else can writers listen to their inner voices and tune out the hurley-burley of modern life? By avoiding “loud and aggressive persons” you avoid the vexations of the spirit which are so bad for your creative work.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Comparisons are everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others are filled with them, making you wonder how your own writing journey compares. The answer is, it doesn’t, nor should it. Aim only to exceed your own highest standards.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Celebrate your small milestones as well as your major successes. Content yourself with sharing your stories, even if the prizes elude you for the time being.
Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery.
Any writer looking at a publishing contract knows this only too well. Indies have many pitfalls they need to avoid.
Let this not blind you to what virtue there is: many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
A fortunate truth, providing writers with much to write about.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is perennial as the grass.
A cynic cannot write convincingly about love or any other human emotion. Only genuine emotion felt by the writer can move readers to laughter, tears and other vicarious experiences.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Age confers many blessings on writers, among them available time to follow your craft and a wealth of lived experiences from which you can draw.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Two occupational hazards of writing, and nowhere is strength of spirit more needed than when faced with a rejection.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.
Even if no-one else understands the drive to express yourself in words, you owe it to yourself to respect, nurture and explore your gift as fully as you can.
…whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
All writers share a common aspiration – to communicate. By sharing your stories you not only keep peace with your soul, you contribute to the pool of human understanding.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
Do these words speak to you? Is there a point that touches you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below. It’s moderated to avoid spam but your comment can appear right away if you click on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.
@valerieparv on Twitter and Facebook
Saturday Oct 12 in Canberra for ACT Writers Centre
My new workshop, Making Your Book Work, details-