Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A writer's life for me?

This post is most likely going to wander. I've just finished Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and I've been pondering much of what she said. The book is fabulous, btw. I'm not going to review it, though. It doesn't need to be reviewed--it just needs to be read by every writer out there.

I thought the writing bug bit me only a year and a half ago when I started working on my novel, Finding Angel. I felt an overwhelming desire to have my name on the cover of a book--a desire that seemed to hit out of the blue. But once I embraced it, I began to remember things from my youth--a sixteen-year-old me sitting on my bed with a legal pad and pen, trying to write a novel that compared with Flowers in the Attic. Oh, yeah, I may have gotten a sentence or two out before crumpling the page in frustration.
I believed I didn't have it in me. I was good at writing and I knew it--the straight A's on all of my assignments attested to that. But I didn't feel like my heart was in it. My heart beat for art. I was rarely found without a pencil in hand, sketching. I didn't realize back then that a person can have more than one skill, much less more than one passion.
But over the years, I've discovered I am a person of many passions. And when my husband said to me, "Honey, if you want to write a book, I'll be supportive," I took him up on it. I dove in head first, and I've barely come up for air since.
Writing takes everything you've got. Just like any other artform, a writer's work is a piece of her soul. Artistic masterpieces, musical masterpieces, written masterpieces--they all have that in common. It's exhausting and lonely work, and one of the most gratifying experiences possible. I believe God made us in His image, and He creates--why would we not?
Still, on a daily basis I wonder if I'm doing the wrong thing. My kids are young. Am I neglecting them by spending so much time in front of the computer? Well, we homeschool, so we have lots of interactive time. But I'm a mom. Guilt comes with the job. My house is not spotless, my truck needs to be vacuumed, dinner is usually a last-minute decision. All because I have this crazy dream, which may or may not be realized based on the publishing goals of people I haven't even met.
And then weeks like this last one happen. I've received THREE acceptances for personal essays. That makes five out of six essays that I've written scheduled for publication. The sixth was only recently submitted, so I merely haven't heard back on that one yet. I'd say that's a pretty good track record.
So, I plug on, encouraged once again that I'm on the right track.


Shawna K. Williams said...

WOOHOO! Proud of ya Kat.

Also, it's wonderful to have my normalcy affirmed in that I'm not the only one who puts myself through a daily guilt trip over writing.

What's wrong with eating scrambled eggs and toast for dinner. . .again?

Janet Ramsdell Rockey said...

Hey Kat,
Just wanted to say your comments reminded me of my first writing experience at age 13. In December of 19__ (know one needs to know the year ;-}), my 8th grade English teacher instructed the class to write a story. My imagination ran wild, so I didn't hear the rest of the assignment. I came up with a sci-fi thriller. Yeah, me...the romance/suspense writer. I remember it well, but not well enough to rewrite it now. I wrote about a young girl who discovered she was related to a pack of werewolves.

When it came time to read our essays to the class, I was aghast to learn the theme we were to write was, "What Christmas Means To Me." I looked for a hole beneath my desk that might mercifully swallow me up. Suffice it to say, Mrs. Thomas wasn't amused by my story, and the other students...well, let's just say kids can be cruel.

And when I see the vacuum cleaner standing on the cat-fur layered rug in the living room for the 4th day in a row, my guilt over writing kicks in, too!

Your published track record speaks for itself. You're definitely doing what you're called to do!

Kat Heckenbach said...

Oh,I would love to read that story!! You should have saved it!

I had a couple of writing experiences that should have clued me in about my talent. In tenth grade, I received an "A+, Excellent!" on an essay about Wuthering Heights. Um, I never read the book--not even the Cliff's notes :). I took one statemet I remember the teacher making and turned in into six paragraphs. I laughed so hard over that!

I also wrote an essay during my senior year that got a bit of attention. We were supposed to describe a person, and I picked one of my favorite rock stars. I got an "A+" on that too, and the teacher handed it back to me with red cheeks :). I didn't put anything bad in there, I promise, but I guess I got across how gorgeous I thought he was. The teacher made a comment, which I don't remember at all, but the next thing I knew my essay was being passed around the classroom and everyone went on and on about how good it was.

Why does it have to take a building to fall on me?????