Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Writer's Abundance

If you’re a fiction writer, you swim in a sea of abundance.

Yes, Grace, you say, abundant deadline pressure, abundant self-doubt, abundant time management challenges, abundant pain in the butt from sitting too long at once, abundant chocolate wrappers on the floor around where you sit for too long too often, abundant whining from other writers…abundance on every hand.

No, silly, not that kind of abundance.

And I’m not talking about material abundance either though we’ve all heard the statistics: If you have a roof over your head, some food on the premises, some money in the bank, a computer, and a little retirement, you’re in the top one percent of the globe for wealth.

That kind of reminder always makes me feel a little scolded, and while it’s good to appreciate one’s blessings, that isn’t the kind of abundance I refer to.

As a fiction writer, you have abundant imagination. You can create whole worlds just sitting in your Thoughtful Spot and pondering. You dream up families and futures, feuds and fairies while other people are dwelling on whether to try sweet corn in the garden this year.

You also have abundant determination. In the middle of day jobs, deadlines, dirty laundry, and dying dogs (I’m having an awful attack of alliteration today), you carve out time to write or revise. You drop by your must-visit blogs, look up that article on Wiki about pipes or Hyde Park or sweet corn, and still get dinner on the table most days of the week.

If you are a fiction writer who has made it as far as publication (and usually if you haven’t), you have abundant self-discipline. You take deadlines in stride, you answer fan mail regularly, you get the galleys turned around promptly without fail, and you still get the laundry done and the Work In Progress lurching forward.

And at every phase of your writing career, you are imbued with abundant optimism. You labor without much (if any) reimbursement in hopes you will a) finish your work; b) sell your work, and c) sell it moreover to somebody who will get it to publication and possibly even promote it. And that’s all before we talk about the hope that the readers will love your book enough to buy it when it hits the shelves some eighteen market-changing months hence.

And finally, if you write fiction that has seen the light of even one critique group, you have abundant courage, because you took something born of your heart and soul and mind and strength, and put it out for the world to see, criticize and/or adore, in hopes that this exposure would make your work better, or, when it’s been made better enough, lead to your dreams coming true.

I’m glad there are neighbors who grow sweet corn, and glad I have all the material comfort I do. I am more grateful still that I have all the abundant blessings that allow me to make progress as a fiction writer. All the material blessings in the world will not make me a successful writer without the intangible abundance I also enjoy within.

16 comments:

  1. Great post, Grace. I have those alliteration attacks myself. What do you think causes them?

    About the abundances writers have, I sometimes volunteer to judge a contest. Whenever I read an entry that shows a lot of promise, but is a long way from publishable, I wonder if the entrant has those qualities you mention. I hope so.

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  2. Mary--I think some of the best guidance I got before being published was from contest judges, particularly from the Georgia Romance Writer's Maggie judges. That chapter has a mentoring award that seems to eclipse all of the other gestures of recognition they make, and rightly so.

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  3. Grace~

    Fabulous blog. I've always had a very abundant imagination. It's gotten me in all sorts of trouble through my life. I'm thrilled that now, when people accuse me of daydreaming, I tell them I'm plotting...

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  4. Thanks for the reminder that my writer's life is full of abundance. I'm stretched pretty thin at the moment and sometimes lose sight of that! *hides abundance of chocolate wrappers*

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  5. We can all relate to this post. My problem is that in addition to all of the above, I do try to raise a few vegetables--but not sweet corn. Never had much luck with that...

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  6. Grace, you're right on target here, though I'd have to argue about the self-discipline one in my case. I'm usually writing because I should be doing something else, but I suppose that's why my laundry never gets done!

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  7. Robin,
    And writers are abundantly flexible, converting burdens into benefits on the strength of sheer determination. I too have an imagination that won't quit. I used to think it was only good for nightmares and awfulizing, then I started writing romance...

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  8. Robin,
    I used to think my imagination was only good for conjuring endless nightmares and awfulizing, then I started making up stories to tell my daughter. Writers are abundantly resourceful, aren't they?

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  9. Olivia,
    I try to think of the miserable times as when I get in touch with how my tortured heroes and heroines are feeling at the opening of the book and in the Big Black Moment. I keep a journal so I can spew first person about my low spots, and it does yield a few insights, LATER when things are going better, which I hope they do for you soon.

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  10. Cheryl,
    But I'm sure when YOU ponder what vegetables to raise, you're also thinking up a hero who gardens, a heroine whose roses get black spot, or a what plant a kid could eat that would cause his parent just enough anxiety to make a really good opening scene.... am I right?

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  11. Abigail,
    No, No, No, it is NOT procrastination to put off the laundry. Nobody will steal your dirty socks, but if you let that brilliant snippet of dialogue go by without writing it down, it might be gone FOREVER. It takes discipline to ignore those stinky socks! Discipline, I tell you! Lots and lots of discipline!

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  12. Wow, I am feeling quite wealthy all of a sudden! LOL! Thanks Grace! Most of the time feel more abundantly overwhelmed than anything else, but of course you are correct.

    Always count your blessings and look at the glass half full :-)

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  13. Outstanding post, Grace! We do indeed have an abundance of all those things. Courage is probably the most important one. It takes a ton of guts to put yourself and your dreams out there. Thanks for posting this.

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  14. HI Grace, I'm late stopping by. We writer's do have a lot of abundance. Now if I can work on the self-discipline part.

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  15. Wonderful post, Grace. I have always been grateful for my abundance of imagination, for it has kept me sane with life's challenges. It still amazes me that there are those who love to share my imagination with them.

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