Yesterday, we lost a family friend--the father of one of my husband's best friends since elementary school. This man came to our wedding, always invited us into his home (with free insult to my husband), made apple butter every fall, and enjoyed the classic spider-on-a-string as the best Halloween trick ever invented, despite my husband and his friend's attempts toward big-budget movie style horror.
Every time someone close to me passes away, I always hear my sister say those four words.
Tomorrow is not promised.
If we are going to do ourselves, our hearts, our familys justice, then we must remember this phrase and act on it. Don't waste the time you have. Don't treat others with cruelty. You only get to clock in and clock out once in this life (we aren't all Elsbeth), so you better make the most of it.
Henry David Thoreau said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."
I assure you, our friend Bill did not, and I refuse to be one of those people. Hug your children, kiss your spouse, call your parents and grandparents, play outside, and write and create with passion streaming through your veins. You do not get a second chance at this. Make a difference for yourself and others. Improve the world through love and understanding. Sing the song you have at the top of your lungs, and go to your grave exhausted holding out the last note.
Whether you're a writer, artist, poet, crafter, or any person willing to look outside themselves for inspiration to create or do, there is never a short supply of places to find it. Recently I was loitering on Erin Morgenstern's blog and saw a link to a small etsy shop. What I saw there, sparked a domino effect of inspiring ideas which will be used in the sequel to Burning Spirit (the novel I'm currently editing).Although it didn't look like much and wasn't very large, the simplest of things, a ring, has made all the difference.
Every writer has a list of naughty things they do when they write that all but destroys the movie magic imagery of the creative type whisking themselves away to sit at an old table to focus and bang out a novel in a single weekend on a typewriter. If you're looking for some insight into my dirty writing habits, then you're in the right place.
Before I get started with my list, however, I must bash upon the rocks those "movie writer" notions. Novels aren't written from start to finish in one sitting and no one can seclude themselves for a weekend to complete the task either. There's a reputation/stereotype that writers hang out in their slippers all day, and while that's a possibility, the writing life is anything but comfortable. There's a lot of mental anguish going on that requires slippers, coffee, snacks, and a few other things to get the job done. No writer can snap their fingers like Mary Poppins and have the story told.
There's a dark place in all of us where we fear if the things we want in life will ever come to pass. We painfully yearn for relief from depression(me), to find a home, to publish a book(me), to cure a sickness, to find love, or money to afford the essentials of life(me). This dark place of fear and trepidation, however, isn't sold separately. It always comes prepackaged with Hope. Through my own depressive states, when things feel totally awful, I know somewhere deep down that my problems will lull and resolve...eventually. I have Hope, even when I have to really dig deep to find that sucker, and you should know there's always Hope for you as well.
If you're a would-be, wannabe, gonna-be, aspiring writer and you're just getting started (or you've dipped your toe into the pool, but have yet to make the plunge) a quick Internet search will provide you with a mound of both helpful and less than helpful information. There's no shortage of dos and don'ts about everything from plotting entire novels, to how to craft a good sentence. Want advice about descriptions? It's there. Need to find a suitable name for your character? You won't have to look far.
As for the actual task of "being a writer," there's a plethora of that, too. Stephen King insists you be a reader and I couldn't agree more. Neil Gaiman says to finish your work, also sound advice. There's also a lot of caution delivered by successful writers for you to quit while you have the chance. Writing is, after all, a terribly cruel and difficult business which requires the thickest skin and many hours of solitary work. My advice for new writers is this: