I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being a chameleon writer. I’m a speaker at the OWFI Annual Writer’s Conference in a couple of weeks, and making notes to share about my Kindle-ization journey. Not just the way I did it (and YOU, boys and girls, can DIY too!), but why—and how I got from <—there to —>here. Those who follow this blog know I tend to
just make crappiocca up share thoughty prose once a week. So hold onto your swivel chairs, it may be a thorny ride.
Each of us comes to writing in different ways. For some, the urge to write has always been there, comfortable and familiar as the lap-sitting cat. Other times, the muse plans a gleeful ambush, dashes from a hidden place to trip us up, smack us upside the head with happy tail wags, or leaps to hug our neck. And sometimes leaves us squishy presents to step on barefoot when we least expect it.
A muse doesn’t care if we scribble on napkins, type with a keyboard, twitter or fritter our litter-ary time with print or Ebooks. She wakes us at 3 a.m. and demands to be fed, she sinks dagger claws into our heart and soul.
She won’t relent until we give in to the urge. The urge to write. To create.
Some of y’all know that we have had as many as 700 rose bushes surrounding our home. Over the years, the roses have been attacked by grasshoppers, leaving nothing but Adams Family stems; bulldozed by armadillos so tender roots fried in Texas sun; and over-pruned, which killed or crippled the plant. We lost roses that had spectacular flowers and amazing pedigrees. Mostly we lost the hybrids, high maintenance specimens that were less able to tolerate the insults, and demanded more attention and care to produce blooms.
But the grasshopper-eaten roses with viable roots produced fresh, healthier growth. Even ‘dillo-dozed roses survived—with scars, to be sure, but still produced stellar blooms. Stay with me, folks, there’s a sharp point to be made . . .
As an over-zealous pruner, I’ve learned to restrain my instincts and appreciate the thorny, hardened portions of established bushes. This was a hard lesson to learn. See, if they’re cut out completely, there’s no scaffolding to support fresh growth, and the blooms fall in the dirt and are trampled–and the whole bush becomes mulch.
After more than two decades of writing, I’m a prickly, hardened bitch-of-a-pet writer. I do not flinch at the “B” word, it’s a badge of honor in my world. I know when to show my teeth, and choose my battles wisely. So I have less patience for high-maintenance writers or circle-the-wagons “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” attitudes than in my youth. WARNING: Those grasshoppers are voracious and if your roots ain’t healthy, you’re toast.
Don’t let that fact scare you. I can say that now–you can’t seen the head-shaped dent in my office wall from
having the pee scared outta me mild concern. Writing is writing, and readers are readers. Publishing has a healthy root system, and will survive armadillos, grasshoppers–and Ebooks. It just needs to cut back on the fertilizer and prune judiciously.
Meanwhile, writers—and readers—support each other. Love a book or a writer—say so far and wide! Know a writer struggling with the effort of chameleon-icity? Shine a little color in that corner. That’s what sustains us through the dry spells, the never-ending deadlines, and rejections that nibble us raw. Mentoring each other keeps us sane–that’s the thorny protection that allows us to create our visions and bloom in our proper season.
Now then, listen–shhhhhh! Listen! Can you hear that?–put your hand over your heart, and you can almost feel the rumble!? No, it’s not the HP printer whirring…well, maybe it is. But listen closer—and you’ll hear symphony of blissful purrs–the sound of confident, tenacious, and oh-so-proud garden full of Muses.
Or maybe that’s tummies growling…go feed your muse!
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