Words Saved Me
It’s like so much magic, really, when the perfect article appears just when you need it and saves you from yourself.
It was 4 a.m., and I had just clicked on my daily email from Brevity.com, a wonderful source of inspiration for authors. The featured article vibrated like neon on the page. “Why I’m Giving Up on Being Published,” by Woz Flint. I was hooked.
Her words were wise and funny and full of clarity about staying true to why we write and how we are so easily swayed by fame. And how if we make our goal something other than the sheer love of writing, we’ve entered a kind of Hell. I read her article three times, leaning close to the screen at each reading, as if Ms. Flint was in there somewhere, and I might be able to thank her for her gift of words.
Through her lens I saw that my memoir had become unmoored by advice from publishing professionals. Each time my response to their direction was so needy, so lost. I’d answer, “You want me to do this? Okay! And that? No problem!” I had lost respect for my story and myself.
My head reeled with their comments: “Lose the chapters about your mother”; “You can’t forgive you father – are you kidding me?”; “Good lord, young lady (I did like that part) you’re bludgeoning me with weather!”
I bawled but believed. I did what they said. I cut scenes, reworking my most passionate pieces into something unrecognizable. I cut the weather. I cut out Mom. I didn’t mention forgiveness. My story was shell of itself, steaming with anger and hatred.
In her article, the brilliant Woz Flint wrote, “Writing, for me, has become a chore devoid of the wonder and joy it once held. Why? Because somewhere along the way, it became about seeing my name in print rather than sharing my ideas and words with the world. It became more about the notoriety than about the craft.”
Amen, Woz. Thank you for shaking me awake. I began to rebuild my work. I wrote Mom back into my memoir because she belongs there. When I did, the joy returned. And when I shared my first repaired piece, my feedback group literally cheered. I was home again.
Question: Have you ever lost track of why you are doing something you love? Did you find your way back again?
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