I Promise to Write Every Day

A writer tries to take a picture of the writing space.
A writer tries to take a picture of the writing space.

There is an article traveling through the Facebook writing pages about an author that wrote a book, quit the day job to write a second, then panicked when it didn’t happen.  She went back to  working day jobs, still unable to write, because…lots of reasons.  Why?  Because working two jobs sucks!

Writing–whether it is full-time or just during your lunch break– is a job.  A hard job, that you can’t leave behind when you go home for the day.  It’s in your head, ticking away, plotting, noticing characteristics of the people around you, keeping track of stories, watching TV with you, and playing with your dreams.  You can ignore it, stop writing for “reasons”, but it’s still there.  You can try to switch to another hobby.  (Good luck with that.)

Or you persevere.  You edit, revise, edit, submit, revise, submit, etc…  At some point you get accepted, or push that publish button yourself.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are done.  That’s not the way an artist’s brain works.  We’ve all seen the warnings; the wise advice from prolific writers.  Don’t ignore the danger signs, like the author from that article did.

This is why you try to write every day, people!  Finished that manuscript?  Find another project the very next day.  Write anything.  Don’t lose that momentum.  Find the next thing you are excited to write.  Even if you type random words for days, even if everything is a steaming pile, keep going.  Carve time out of each day that you can.  Revise as much as you need, just don’t forget to play with fresh thoughts.  New thoughts.  Exciting thoughts. Scary thoughts.

Family crises?  Journal it.  Short of ideas?  Find daily prompts.  Sick of novel length?  Try flash fiction.  Can’t stick with it?  Try a writer’s group that will poke you.  Blog.  Tweet. Engage in pointless Facebook commentary.  Jot limericks on napkins.

Do I write every day?  No.  I suck at it.  I’ve fallen between projects, so I know exactly how hard it is to get up and get going again.  You have to forgive yourself, and push yourself harder.  Eventually the mind starts working again.  A couple of years back I did write every day, for a year and a half, so I know what it is like, and it was good.  Damn good.  I want it back.  I crave it.  Food, drink, air, & words.

Place your hand on whatever book you respect and say it with me.  “I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”

Wait.  Wrong promise.  Let’s try that again.

“I promise to find a way to write every day.”

Find.  Write.  Every.  Day.

Do it for you.  You deserve it.

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You Can Have The “Suprise Kiss” When You Pry It From My Cold, Dead Lips

I am very glad there are so many helpful articles about avoiding sexism and racism in our writing, but why do so many of them make my blood boil?

These articles are a mix of sensible thoughts, badly chosen examples, condescending attitude, and weirdly unhelpful tips for improving your work.  I’ve decided to no longer post those types of articles on Facebook or Twitter, even for the lively debates.  The most recent of these, an article about the harmful effects of sexist tropes applied to male characters, left me with a bad taste and these helpful impressions:

  1. We can only write about well-balanced characters.  No Fatally Flawed People!
  2. All characters must have a wholesome and fulfilling home life, with perfect parents.
  3. Everyone must be a winner, and nobody can be unattractive AND a bad person.
  4. No seducing anybody, male or female, ever.  No changing your mind.
  5. Don’t match negative qualities with stereotypes, or… something…  What?

I get it, writers are trying to help other writers.  I’m trying to pass along helpful tips, too.  But the sheer audacity to feel you can write down a set of rules to control what can or cannot be written about stuns and infuriates me. I will use anything and everything I need to tell the story.  If I get it wrong and readers don’t like it, fine.  I will dig my hole with my own damn shovel, not a borrowed one.

It is the suggestions about sexual assault and rape that really ball up my fists.  There are some very uncomfortable truths about these topics.  Yes, male rape exists.  No, you shouldn’t include rape in the story to make a character more interesting.  Seduction exists.  Changing your mind isn’t rape.  Men and women have the right to change their mind about a situation.  Someone can go from dislike or nervous trepidation to accepting sexual advances without losing consent, and can also reverse that decision.  Consent isn’t a fixed point.

But to suggest that no one should ever write about sexual situations that aren’t 100% consensual to all parties is ridiculous and unrealistic.  Yes, consent and rape are controversial subjects, but to silence writers and other storytellers is sweeping the subject under the rug.  As a writer and a survivor of rape, I Will Not Be Silenced! I will use the emotions, unflinchingly, to tell a story.  You live through it, or you die inside.  You can get professional or spiritual help, but it is the internal self that makes that decision.  Being told I can’t write about all of my experiences, whether in fiction or blogging, is my trigger.

Heart pounding, muscles tensed, skin tingling as my senses expand.  Weight shifting to my toes, ready to fight or take flight.  Hands clenched next to a keyboard as I read a damn article.  On a computer.  In my home.  That is what a f**king trigger is like.  It’s a visceral reaction I found–oddly enough–reading words meant to silence me, not words in some novel (with or without a trigger warning).

Trigger warnings are a nice idea, but unrealistic.  You can’t bubble wrap the world.  You learn to survive, just like with any other type of abuse.  You learn to cope.  To thrive.  In my case, to write.

I guess it’s not too surprising that my plots tend towards Romance (and because I don’t look away from the relationship once it ends up in a bedroom, shifts over to Erotica).  The edges of consent and seduction fascinate me.  The negotiation of ego verses vulnerability, and who you choose, and why.  Who pulls at you, opening your soul, giving you a safe place to simply exist?  Who becomes your bedrock, a stable place to stand and face the world?

Do I think surprise kisses are bad?  NO!  Look, if you misread a situation and go all “50 Shades” in an elevator, you deserve the sexual assault charges.  Attraction doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  Consent can be implied through action and reaction.  We are past the formal courtship rituals of bygone eras, and you don’t have to ask for permission and have a clearly stated “Yes” for every level of contact.  Body language exists, learn it.

All first contact, like a touch on the hand, is a risk.  Both the chance for outright rejection, and the chance for pushing a line too far because you misread the situation.  If no one ever took that risk, there will be a lot less love, happiness, and children in the world.  You might as well supply your genetic sample to a computer and let it make the next generation in sterile laboratories.  Personally, I don’t want to live in a world without good surprise kisses, even at the risk of bad surprise kisses.

Life isn’t sanitized for your protection.  Live, laugh, and get messy.  I hope you receive at least one steamy, decadent, toe-curling surprise kiss in your lifetime.  It is well worth the risks.