This past year has been difficult personally, but the biggest hurdle for me as a writer was losing my beta reader. We've been together through thick and thin, bleeding virtual red pencil over each other's stories and commenting, asking questions, and even hotly discussing different points. She was my partner in writing, but I didn't feel I could go to her any more since she was now a bona fide editor. I didn't want to take up her time, and that decision (mine alone) had a deleterious effect on my writing. I couldn't find the rhythm any more or was completely stalled.
It is difficult finding someone to work with, someone to trust completely, and someone I respected. She was that someone and I was bereft. Add in the death of my mother and my youngest grandson Connor and my year was pretty much shot. I seldom opened my files and wrote anything except for dribs and drabs here and there. After talking with her tonight, we are back in business. She's writing again and so am I. Best of all, I have my beta reader/editor back.
I often wonder what other writers consider necessary tools, aside from computer, typewriter, pen, pencil, or whatever instrument is used to put the words on the page -- virtual and paper. I never really thought about it until recently. For me at least, a good and trustworthy beta reader I respect is a necessity.
One other tool is not caring what anyone else says as long as what I put down on paper is my truth and my creation. I have worried far too much about reviews and ratings and social networking to the point that I have allowed such trivialities to hamper my writing.
For some reason, I began thinking about Roark from Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and how Roark didn't care if he wasn't popular and his work was trashed in reviews and in the press. What was important was the work and the integrity of what he created. I've not had much integrity in my writing anywhere but in my paper journals and when I blog. I couldn't find the integrity in what I was writing because I was twisting myself into an emotional and creative pretzel, and the pretzel wasn't very creative at all. More than anything else, I need to remember that I write for myself above all. I write to please myself and say what I have to say without thought or regard for trends and social networks and how it might affect the way people see me.
Someone recently told me that I have to be the hero of my own life. Who does not see themselves as the hero of their own life? How else could some people do the things they do? I'm not a criminal or a nut job or even someone who is unbalanced, but I do see myself as the hero of my own story, even when I fall down, make mistakes, or falter. Why should I not? After all, making someone else the hero of my life means I give them power to decide my life when that is not the best for me or the way to live life at all. If nothing else, I will be the hero, a flawed and fallible hero, but my own hero all the same.
Integrity is what I need to be able to function and second guessing myself and my work is no way to be productive.
Today is my birthday. The one gift I gave myself was permission to write what I want regardless of who else approves or likes it. I write for me in the same way I have been keeping journals for more than 20 years. That is the way I will get the words out -- of me -- and onto the page.
Whether you like what I write, disagree, agree, or don't care, it isn't about you. It's about me. My voice. My vision. My words. Come along for the ride or stay behind. It doesn't really matter. Those who find my books and read and understand will continue to buy and read my books. The rest do not matter. At least not in the grand scheme of things.
Each person must find their own path. This is mine.
What is yours?