In your head
One of the seven books was Heather Sellers’ “Page after Page”. It had attracted me by it’s subtitle: “Discover the confidence & passion you need to start writing & keep writing”. I browsed the table of contents. She had divided the book into three parts: ..”Creating a new writing self”, “How to maintain your commitment to writing” and “Finding your place in the world of writing”. The book seemed tailor made for my journey.
It opened me up to the idea that how I approached writing mattered. How I attended my aspirations mattered. I found her second book, “Chapter after Chapter” the next month. I picked it up too. What I read in it created the second flashpoint to my transformation. It wasn’t even in a chapter, it was in the introduction.
Here it is: “A failing we writers have is that we confuse the voices in our heads with writing: we tend to do exercises in our heads because thinking and writing feel so closely related. Visual artists never have this problem. ”
Read it again. If you have a complete novel in your head and have known your main character since forever, please, read it again!
She built on that in a way that made me light up like a solar flare. Then she followed it up and laid me out on the floor: “Chapter 1: Rose to Ash”. I was transformed. No, I’m serious. I was transformed. I had a breakthrough.
I looked at all the books scattered around me and saw that while each book presented their ideas differently, there were patterns of commonality in them. All waving flags, trying to get me to pay attention. I saw them now. I said to myself: “If only I had bought books like this earlier”.
Readers, I had.
I pulled all my books together for this post. Stacking them in four piles. Writing exercise books (3). Writing platform books (7). Writing books (14). Books I had bought long ago on writing (7). In that last pile, so small after all the Writer’s Digest and query letter and agent books had been pitched, I grinned when I saw Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird”. I loved that book. One of the few that I read from cover to cover. She has a sarcastic wit, and I love that. I love it so much, I started to re-read it.
She said everything that all the other books were saying. All those tips that I now understood how they fit in my new life; they were there. I had read this book over ten years ago.
So I learned what many before me have learned – you can’t implement a fantasy if you never allow it to leave your head. You can’t even talk meaningfully about a fantasy that lives only in your head. You cannot be reached on how to become a Writer until you know you are a Writer.
Then, all you need are a few good books and the will to put down your thoughts “Page after Page” and “Chapter after Chapter” and “Bird by Bird”. Then, the work really starts.
Are you a writer in denial, not writing on the outside?