This week, Lord Midnight author Donna Cummings is gracing our blog with her presence once again! This time, she’s sharing with us her author journey. Thank you for your post, Donna!
The Author’s Journey
For anyone who has been on the author’s journey for a little while, it’s comforting to think it’s always going to be a straight shot, and that you actually know where you’re going. But it’s a comfort only because it’s a delusion. Whatever you know about writing or the writing journey is based on someplace you’ve been, not where you’re headed.
You change as a writer with every book you write. So it makes sense that the path you’ll take is going to morph as your writing abilities grow and improve. Also, every “next book” we write is always going to be slightly outside our skill set. Even though we’ve just added to our resumé and repertoire by writing that last book–the one that stretched us way beyond our comfort zone, leaving us half-dead on the side of the road–we won’t be writing that book anymore. We have to accept the fact that we never really know how to write the book we’re writing–until we’re done writing it.
The other thing I’ve learned about the author’s journey — and let me stress that I have resisted learning this — oh boy, did I resist: this is a journey without an end goal.
Now, before you start wailing because you’re envisioning a football field that goes into infinity, with no goal posts. . .well, that’s kind of what I’m talking about. Those yard markers are the real goal. They represent what we’re trying to reach when we talk about getting published, or getting an agent, or hitting a bestseller list. It’s important that we celebrate each and every one of these awesome achievements.
But we have to remember they are “a” goal. Not “the” goal. Because if we’re writers, “the” goal is to keep writing, no matter what. No matter if we get bad reviews, or editor rejections, or a story idea that kicks us in the groin every time we try to whip it into shape. “The” goal is to keep putting words down, yanking them back out, figuring out where they really belong, and polishing them until the gleam of that awesome story brings tears of joy to a reader’s eyes.
Now, I know it’s not easy to accept that we’re on a trip that has no real destination. We’re writers, and we’re used to having a beginning, a middle, and an end. What I’m saying sounds like there’s just middle, endless days and days of middle, without the bookends of a beginning or end.
But instead of being discouraged by that, it’s actually kind of liberating. We can continue jotting down every story idea that comes to us. There’s never going to be a time when a proctor says, “Put down your pencils”. We get to decide when we’ve accumulated enough writing goal markers along the way.
At least once a month I’m convinced I’m done writing. I tell myself it’s not worth the time and effort I put into it. I want to have a life that doesn’t include writing, or at least one where I don’t have to feel guilty about not writing, or despairing about how to get a written story to match the perfect one in my imagination.
When I have these thoughts, it’s usually because I have a specific end goal in mind, and I’ve just plowed into it face-first. I’ve practically garroted myself by flying into that goal line that has no business being there. But since my mind has installed it, stopping me from moving forward, I have to sit down and re-evaluate. This is not when I want to gauge how far I’ve got to go. No, this is when it’s important to look back, to see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.
It doesn’t take too long on that jaunt down memory lane before I get antsy. Quit writing? What was I thinking? I just needed a little R&R, a reminder that I felt this same way with the last book, and the one before that. And then I’m off on another new adventure. . . one without any kind of final goal to impede my progress.
That’s what the author’s journey is really all about.
Bio: I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances. I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton. In addition to my current release, I Do. . .or Die, a romantic comedy/mystery, my available books are Summer Lovin’, a free romantic comedy novella, and Lord Midnight, a Regency romance. My contemporary novella, Back on Track, part of the Strangers on a Train collection, will release from Samhain on April 2, 2013.