Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Barrier is ME.

When I first began to think about the barriers that eclipse my writing, I thought of a number of things:

  1. My husband
  2. My four children (ages 13, 12, 10 and 9)
  3. My job (s)
  4. My education
  5. My ability
  6. My clips
  7. My supportive family
  8. My flexible schedule
  9. My family's belief and support of me....
And as you may have started to realize by reading my list, none of those things are barriers that eclipse my writing. I can write, and I can write well, especially nonfiction. I am an experienced journalist who has won awards for her work. I have written an average of 10 to 12 articles a week for more than 15 years, so clips are not a problem. It isn't writer's block (I don't believe in it.) It isn't a lack of ability because I have proven I have the ability.

I finished a master's degree in English composition and communication just last August, and I have a bachelor's degree in journalism, so my education (or lack of it) isn't a barrier to my writing. In fact, my job is to teach and tutor college-level writers. Again, that isn't a barrier. I am constantly learning and discussing and improving my writing. Plus, because I teach at the college level, my schedule is very flexible, especially since I teach some of the classes online from home.

You might think four children would be a possible barrier because that is a lot of kids. But I have great kids who are intelligent, funny and industrious enough to keep themselves busy while I work. And if I'm busy writing, they can make their own lunch (and mine too!).

And I have always been blessed with a ton of supportive family members who believe in me. It began with my parents who never passed up an opportunity to tell any stranger they happened to meet about how great their daughter, the writer, is. You would not believe how many people (including those strangers) who my parents have thrust a copy of my writing at and said, "read" (although probably much nicer than that).

The support didn't stop at my parents. My extended family (brothers and sisters and lots of extensions there) are also very supportive. My brother and his wife swear they have a shelf on their bookshelf reserved just for books by me.

And then there is my husband. He has never waivered in his support of me and my writing. He believes in me. He has made HUGE sacrifices so I can pursue writing and yet another degree. He has let me quit full-time jobs to try various writing endeavors or pursue that master's degree. He has sold his racecar (and racing for him is like writing for me), and a number of other items that he used as fun in order to support me (snowmobiles, motorcycles, etc.). I could not ask for a more supportive husband.

And so I have to ask, what is my barrier?

It isn't that I don't have time to write. I do have time.

It isn't that I don't have the equipment to write. We own countless numbers of pens and pencils. I have umpteen million pieces of blank paper (lined and unlined) plus notebooks and probably 20 blank writer's journals. There are three desktop computers and two laptops, and each and every one of them have writing software. Any software I might need, I own as well as other essentials that help enhance writing -- like my digital SLR camera (a Christmas gift from my husband) and the Adobe Creative Suite software.

I have an office. My own office. It's a place to house all of my books on writing and my magazines on writing, plus information on markets and research for projects. It is an office that offers me a place to work, and has everything I need, and it is waiting for me.

I have high-speed Internet, so I don't have to get frustrated by dial-up or incoming phone calls.

I have so many things that are supportive to make sure I have time to be a successful writer that so many others do not have.

It means the only possible barrier I have in my life must be me.

I am the only thing standing in the way of me finishing my memoir's manuscript and getting the query letters and book proposal to agents is me.

Why am I trying to undermine my own success? Am I trying to avoid rejection? Am I afraid of success? What?

I don't think I'm trying to avoid rejection. I'm not afraid of success. I believe in my writing and my project. So why am I blocking myself?

I have no good excuse.

Until now, I seem to be very good at talking the talk, "I'm writing a memoir," and I have had some success; I have 30,000 polished words and about another 20,000 in rough draft. I have a clear idea. I know what I am doing. I have the major themes. It is working. I need 80,000 words.

Until 2006, I had never written anything more than 8,000 words.

Do I believe in me?


I read the quote Heather shared from Cynthia Kersey. In particular, I noted this line, "How you deal with challenges will determine whether you achieve your goal or give up and settle for less than you deserve."

Up until this point, I handled this goal of writing a memoir by saying "I'm going to do it." But once I achieved that master's degree (the 30,000 polished words were my thesis project), I did little besides give it lip service. Oh sure, once in a while, I would write something. I ended up with those 20,000 rough words somehow. But it isn't anything like what I had been doing.

If I want to make this happen, I need to do more than just talk about it. I need to be disciplined. I need to make a commitment and stick to it. And I'm doing it here, publicly. In November, people pledge to write 50,000 words in a month. I do not need to do this in a month. I need to keep my goals reasonable, so that I will meet them without exhaustion, and without identifying them as "impossible." (Although so many people I know personally have proved 50,000 words in a month is not impossible. Remember, however, that prior to 2006, most of my "longest" written works were well under 5,000 words.)

I am going to make this happen.

Five thousand words a week beginning Sunday, Mar. 2. Why Sunday? It's the beginning of the week, but it is also my mom's 70th birthday. Plus, I have had the flu, and I am still not 100 percent. By Monday, I should be fully recovered. Not to mention I am on spring break starting Monday.

And just because my official week doesn't start to Monday does not mean I have to wait to Monday to begin writing. This is going to happen. I'm going to make sure it does, and if I do that, I've eliminated my biggest barrier -- me.


Serenity Now! said...

OOOh Linda, tough words! You gave me goosepimples because I totally believe you've just stared yourself down and kicked your own butt!


Good job!

And I really understand what you are saying. Sometimes I think that I have it too easy. I have the computer, the supportive family, yadda yadda.... and there's JK Rowling, single mom in a coffee shop with a notepad and paper!!

Carolyn Erickson said...

So familiar...