Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beyond the Hazards

"The great secret of writing is not becoming a writer, it's staying a writer." --Harlan Ellison

Off and on while on my walks, I come across different hazards. This time of year a healthy crop of poison ivy is a threat. It grows alongside the most vulnerable stretch of road--there are no sidewalks out my way--where space for walking is already at a premium, and a driver's visibility is most restricted. Do I hug the road and risk a car passing too closely, or do I jump into the midst of the one kind of plant that can cause me so much misery?

Oh, the hazards. A few weeks ago it was snakes. Other times it's stinking road kill. Once it was a Mama deer with two young ones that stared me down. Her snort made me take several quick steps backward.

"Would a deer charge if it had a mind to?" I asked my husband upon my return that day.

"You better believe it," he answered.

Oh, the hazards. And it got me thinking, what are some hazards in a writer's life? For many of us, I'm sure the list would include doubt, discouragement, distractions, dry spells.

Ralph Keyes, The Writer's Book of Hope, says such problems are common. Nerves, he says, are normal, frustration happens, and periods of despair are inevitable.

So, if writing carries with it such hazards, why write? If, as Keyes says, "desperation is the writer's norm, serenity the exception"--why go down that road?

Well, just like E.B. White once said, "I am still encouraged to go on. I wouldn't know where else to go."

There is hope. In Chapter Nine, "Keeping Hope Alive," Keyes suggests several helps to aid in our journeys, including writer's groups, conferences, continuing education in the craft of writing. He also advises we "go easy" on ourselves. Don't look too far down the road. Write on good days and bad days. Join up with those who will encourage you. Encourage others.

So what do you say? What hazards make you apprehensive? What helps keep you truckin' forward? What gives you hope for the journey?


  1. Love the quote from E.B. White! I keep moving forward b/c I don't want to lose ground and I desire to fulfill my calling.
    Karen :)

  2. I agree with E.B. White I don't know where else to go! I'd like to believe I have a great destination to get to, and I do believe that. The journey seems a bit long though. ;)

  3. For me it's querying when you think your ms is ready and it isn't. But doesn't really sidetrack me. I figure out what my weaknesses are, and focus on them for the next book (and find as much info as I can to help me strengthen it). With the last book, characterization was a major weakness, not so this time around. :D

  4. I love the quote at the top:) Very good post. For me right now, my hazards are that I gave my WIP to several Beta readers. Waiting for their feedback--good and bad is killing me. I just want one to say they love it!