Years ago when I was a new writer I was given a lot of advice from a lot of authors who know their shit. The most common thing I was told was “Keep showing up”. Okay, I can do that, I thought.
Fast forward a lot of years.
I’ve done that. I feel like there should be a big red tick next to “I’ve shown up”.
Because that is exactly what I’ve done, without fail. My arse has been in that chair (well, actually these days I write more standing up, but, whatever). I’ve listened, learned, and written. I’ve taught. I’ve cared. I’ve given.
I have shown up. Constantly been there for my characters and my readers (hello … anybody out there?).
Without a doubt, there have been times when it’s the last thing I have wanted to do because of life and death and whatnot. But, I did not let that stop me.
I showed up.
Persistent? Driven? Determined? Downright pigheaded?
Maybe but that’s not really it. That’s not why I showed up every day.
I showed up because I couldn’t NOT show up.
It’s got nothing to do with being driven in a “I’ve got to succeed not matter what” kinda way. Because clearly, that’s not what drives me and my five fans will attest to that. 🙂
There’s a little bit of determination, pigheadedness, and persistence in as far as … I won’t be beaten by something as fickle as the publishing industry.
But I’ve shown up and done my time because there are stories I need to tell whether I know it or not, and probably whether you know it or not!
For all I have the utmost faith in my ability to tell a story*, I am consumed by doubt about how I write and if I’ve told the story I was meant to tell. And sometimes I can’t even remember HOW to write. Some days, every sentence looks like a five-year-old wrote it and I can’t remember what I sound like on a page.
It’s a creative thing. I know that.
But it’s okay.
I’ve learned to live with it. Just like I’ve learned not to read reviews because that’s a slippery slope to misery.
Because it doesn’t matter how many five-star reviews you have if someone
wanker who clearly didn’t read the book gives you 1-star and is nasty, it hurts, it cuts into you no matter how tough your skin has grown, a little prickle will get in and eat away.
(Writer secret: most of us are slightly insecure and not above day drinking.) There’s also a tendency to over think everything. While we say we don’t compare ourselves to other authors, Readers … we very much do and hate that we do. We hate it because their journey is not our journey. And we know that. At the same time all that is happening …
We build each other up. We celebrate each others successes. We commiserate with one another over missing out of awards while celebrating the winner and are genuinely happy for them.
We’re actually pretty cool people.
What’s different about a writer and someone who wants to write?
Writers show up.
No matter what.
They put in the work.
I’ve meet so many people who “want to write a book one day” and most of us know, they won’t. Because showing up is hard. It’s mentally draining and exhausting. There’s no gold star. We can work for decades and get zero recognition. Absolutely zero.
And yet we show up. That’s the secret to writing 1 book or 12 books.
Show up and do the work.
*I trust when I’m writing that the story will all come together. I’ve learned over the years that my brain knows what it’s doing and I should let it get on with it. To do that. I need to show up. (See what I did there?)