I've always accused myself of having too many interests and viewed it as a bad thing. Even today I tell myself that maybe I would be better at some things if I had fewer interests. But the fact of the matter is that God has given me these interests for a reason. I just have to figure out how He wants me to use them.
It is obvious that one of my interests is writing. Actually, I think it would have to be my major interest because every other thing can be included in it, such as writing about crafts, about science, about fashion and history, etc. But before I wrote on these subjects, and before I was a blogger, my main focus was fiction.
I don't know when I first decided I could write fiction. I was probably 8 or 10 when I wrote my first short story. I laugh when I think of it. It was about a bad bunny who had a sort of "A Christmas Carol" experience before discovering how important it was to be kind. I think my little bio just glamorized it more than it deserves. After that I wrote Barbie-inspired adventures (I was a Barbie fan, you see) and some others. But as I got older I somehow began to have ideas of what writing professionally looked like. Somewhere along the way I began putting more impossible standards on my writing so that nothing was good enough. Time and again I would have a story all worked out and be halfway done with it before deciding on a plot change, taking me back to the blackboard where I would start all over again.
The sad thing is, I still do it. I have realized my misconception that a piece has to be perfect before you can be finished with it, but I still catch myself dragging the draft back to the blackboard for rewriting. Frankly, I envy those young writers (especially those who are younger than me) who have a handful of finished stories under their belt. How do they do it?!
I have at least three short stories (wait, only three? Oh, don't forget the novels) sitting dormant in my notebook where they have been for many years. And I know why I can't finish them. The reasons are multiple.
One is a lack of inspiration.
Have you felt that way? All fired up over an idea, storming ahead with possibilities, brainstorming plot and character development? And then, partway through writing, the fire has died down and you suddenly feel like you are getting nowhere. You pick at the plot and the reasons and ask yourself, "why would so-and-so do such-and-such? That's just plain silly!" and before you know it you've thrown the story aside to work on another day. And that day never comes.
That is me to a tee. Thus the pile of unfinished manuscripts and an overwhelming sense of impossibility.
Another reason is one I have already mentioned -- personal restrictions.
I am a fact checker by nature. I want the truth and I want to learn. My reading diet during my younger years were classics and historical fiction. Boy, would I pick at some of those historical fictions! Ladies and gentlemen, a 17th century Lady (as in a woman of good breeding and good morals) would not consider becoming a pirate!! (Sorry, Elizabeth Swann). You do not want me to began critiquing contemporary piracy novels.
It is obvious I hold writers to higher standards, thus I am often disappointed. But the expectation works both ways. I must write the way I want others to write, factually accurate and humanly logical. In my case, I expect perfection. (Which is strange, because I am not a perfectionist by nature).
I have since admonished myself for this unrealistic mindset, and have tried to change it. I tell myself, "Just write, nothing else. Don't let your 'logic' interrupt, don't let anything through but the story." It helps, but it is taking a lot of time to brand permanently on my brain. Which brings me to my last reason for why I have so many unfinished works.
(In my mind) At my age, a woman should be working hard and making something of herself. Although I grew up believing that a person should do what they love, even if it wasn't the best, money paying job, there's a time when outside pressures makes you think otherwise. Maybe it's an excuse, but either way, right now all I have is my business and it is my main priority. Every other interest must take a back seat. Sadly, my fiction writing has taken the very back seat of a 15-passenger van.
I wish I could say that things are going to change. That's what everyone would like to hear at this point in the story. And so would I. But as I said in a previous article on New Year's resolutions, I don't like making commitments until I am sure I can keep them. And yet, as they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. So maybe things are going to change.
Let this be a lesson to others of you who see themselves in me. Write! Write and don't stop. One of my favorite quotes is the one by Agatha Christie (I'm sure you've heard it) which says, "Write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you are writing, and aren't writing particularly well."
Another of my favorites is by Francena H. Arnold. Her writing tips are priceless. She says,
"1. Be natural. Don't preach! If a witness to Christ is to be made, make it short, to the point, and in harmony with the character.
"2. If you want a touching scene, make it so, don't just say it is. If you want a funny situation, make it so, etc, etc.
"3. Live with the characters until they come alive to you. Then you don't have to worry about what will happen. It just comes as you live with them day by day.
"4. Have something worthwhile to say in writing. (Illustration: The woman who wrote me saying, 'I want to write a book but can't think of anything to say.' My advice: 'Don't Write!')."
However, I am probably being too hard on myself again, so lest you get the wrong idea about me, here are a couple of fiction pieces I have posted here on my blog --
I'll Be Home For Christmas - Christmas Songbook Series
A Beautiful Love Story
I'm actually particularly fond of these pieces. But let me know what you think! In the meantime, keep your hypothetical fingers crossed as I attempt to put fiction writing back into my schedule. Maybe this post will be the thing to hold me accountable for my lack of motivation. We'll see.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post! Leave me a comment telling me what you think, or any advice you might have.
Come back soon for another free crochet pattern, and later, a Valentine's plaque!