Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One Pill Makes You Larger...

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: Untitled Project #1
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True story. My love affair with books began when I was little—by which I mean somewhere pre-kindergarten—fueled first by my parents reading to me, then by reading on my own (I love you, Dr. Seuss, wherever you are in the cosmos!). Books were magic and somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that authors were magic, too—that they were some rarified form of human being and that writing books wasn't something just anyone could do. Years later in school when we would discuss books and "what the author meant," I knew in my head that a person like you or me wrote those books, but somewhere in my soul I still believed that authors were magical creatures. Aspiring to be one was as foolish as trying to catch a leprechaun to make him give up his pot o' gold. Better to stick to something down to earth, don't you know.

Fast forward *cough* years past several twists and turns in my life, past the degree in Computer Science and the career in IT (all of which I've loved, by the way), past the years of writing stories for myself—all the way to today. I joined RWA because I'm serious about writing as a career (i.e. writing for publication). I'm working hard at learning all I can about writing, about publishing, and at improving my craft. And yet there's been an invisible wall holding me back: I'm still trying to shake that long-held belief. Not so much the belief that authors are magical, because I still think they are. No, it's the corollary to that belief that I've been trying to get rid of. Leprechauns and unicorns, after all, are born that way. They didn't wake up one morning and become magical; they just are. If authors are magical...well, you see the problem.

I'm sure there are lots of ways to modify behavior and break long-held false beliefs. But I think, in my case, I've found the solution. I've been looking at this from the wrong angle. It isn't that authors, like leprechauns and unicorns, are born that way. It's that they've found the magic elixir that can transform them into a magical being. If that's true, why is it, then, that it takes some authors longer to be published than others? Shouldn't a sip of the elixir instantly transform them? Ah, but you see, just like with modern medicine, so with magic potions—some authors need more of the elixir than others before their transformation takes place.

I know you're dying for me to tell you all about the elixir, aren't you? I'll tell you a secret—you already know what it is. Authors have never tried to hide it. It's free to anyone who really wants it. Are you ready? You're sure? Okay, then, here it is. The magic elixir to becoming a published author is...to write!

See, I told you you already knew it.

The thing is, it's easy to forget that those magical creatures called "authors" are really writers who continued to plug away at their writing until they finally reached the point where a publisher wanted to buy what they wrote. I suppose some people would say that's a bit mundane for a magic potion. I don't think so at all. Writer's write. Sounds pretty magical to me.


Deborah Wright said...

Just checking the box to get comments by email!

Paty Jager said...

Great post, Debbie! And so true! As a pre-kindergartner learning to read with my brother who was in school, I thought books were magical and the people who wrote them were magical. I also thought teachers were super-human they had access to so much knowledge.

But as I grew and learned to write, I realized anyone who put their heart into writing could write and tell a story others would want to hear.

Alice Sharpe said...

Loved your clever post, Debbie. I think understanding what the elixir is and how often we might need to re-take it is half the key.

I loved to read as a child, too. I started writing young, however, and never thought it was something I couldn't do -- in fact, I never thought much about the process at all, it was just part of who I was. I, too, was enchanted by the stories - it's just that I felt entitled to create them and it never dawned on me that I couldn't. It has dawned on me since that I can't do it as well as I'd like and that I have limits I wish I didn't, and that there is so much to learn and understand and that some of that learning and understanding may continue to elude me, but that just means I need to keep taking that elixir you mentioned.

I'm glad you are opening yourself up to all the possibilities ...

Kendra said...

Yes, I've always seen authors as a breed apart, but I've learned in the last few years that they worked DAMNED hard to get there. Even the writer whose first book sold worked long hours to get those words on the page.

The magical elixir has several formulas. All are a mixture of hard work, determination, and talent.

Genene Valleau said...

Interesting post!

The more I learn, the more I believe that writing IS magical. Just as is working with computers or raising children or the myriad of other things we do every day in these physical bodies.

I've been reading books and listening to MP3s that put forth a theory that resonates deeply with me. Like we peel away the layers of our characters to reveal their true selves, under all our own layers of doubt and fear and guilt and anxiety and whatever else we've picked up during our life's experiences, WE are the magic.

Or, to use Debbie's analogy, we brew our own elixir. That's not to say we won't get distracted by interesting side roads or fall down rabbit holes occasionally. We may even need to tweak the recipe for our elixir or try a different recipe altogether.

But if we keep the vision of what we want to do or become, feel passionate about that dream, and take action--we can feel the magic of our journey. It may even be better than we imagined!

wavybrains said...

Awesome post Debbie! You are really on a roll lately!

Katie said...

Writers are like rockstars to me. Beautiful, wild, passionate creatures who rip into intensive riffs with their pen. Or something like that. Fishnets and mussed hair with bright streaks of color are definitely a part of that image.

Except for the male authors. They don't get fishnets.

Anyway, while they may be strange and have artistic eccentricities, their stories are magic, and speak to the soul. I'm excited to get over my stage fright and bellow into the mic with my own expressions of angst, love, and drugs. Except not the drugs. ^_^

That was a weird comment. Sorry about that. I must just be excited for the Muse concert this Saturday... LOL