Want to Write More in the New Year? Just Show Up.

 

by @Annie Daylon

PIANIST by author/artist, Ben Nuttall-Smith.

PIANIST by author/artist, Ben Nuttall-Smith.


My 2015 calendar from the Federation of British Columbia Writers arrived the other day and, from all of Ben Nuttall-Smith’s stunning illustrations, one jumped  at me– Pianist. It triggered memories of my beginnings at a keyboard: the Leila-Fletcher-on-staff-Middle-C-approach to the piano, taught  by Sister Mary John Hughes and her trusty pointer. Ouch!

Over the years, I worked my way from Fletcher’s C-D-E to Debussy’s Reverie. I never mastered the art of sight-reading (the ability to pick up a piece and play it as you would pick up a book and read it.) Once, when I was a student of music at Mount Allison University, a friend suggested we partner up and plunge into the world of sight-reading, an attempt to conquer the beast. I started, half-heartedly, and fell away from it: for me there was a gaping hole where passion, drive, and above all, confidence should be.  My friend persevered and became a long-time professional musician. (Thank you, T: I never did excel in sight-reading but I did learn from watching you gain mastery.) My piano, except for the annual Christmas carol, is now a silent shadow in the hallway of my home.

However, another keyboard has replaced it.

My passion is writing. I dipped my toe in the water seven years ago and I stayed. In that time, I have written three novels, each better than its predecessor, and I have a fourth awaiting editing. I have also penned forty+ short stories, sixty-five blog posts, and a few articles. Apparently, what I could not apply to music–commitment and perseverance– I can apply to writing.  Doubt may knock once in a while but I don’t let it in. I just show up and write, daily. My routine: coffee, crossword, computer. Three hour minimum.

In the coming year, whatever your passion,  just have at it. If writing is your passion,  park yourself at that keyboard and plunk away. One letter, one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page… eventually becomes one book.

shutterstock_110397353 (2) Happy New YearJust show up and you will create a wonderfully accomplished, well-written new year. One key at a time.

 

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My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

The Business of Writing: Promote and Protect

Reality Byte VII:  Promote & Protect

Lately, I have been busy, promoting my novel, Castles in the Sand. Promotion, a necessary part of the writing business, can be an all-encompassing whirl of activity: preparing a Media Kit, sending shutterstock_104551601email, tweeting, adding pics to Pinterest, putting an author page on Facebook (just managed that one, little time on it), updating website and yes, blogging. Still another aspect of promoting is giving back, sharing what one knows. I recently shared a Power Point Presentation about short story contests with a very receptive high school class in Clinton, BC. A great experience. I recently turned down an opportunity to present that workshop as a webinar to a group in Ontario; I do not yet have the skill required to do that, but acquiring that skill is on my To Do List!

So, yes, I’m busy. As mentioned in a previous post, I try to achieve balance, but every now and then, I need a little jolt to help me set priorities and keep me on track. When I watched the open show of Smash this season, I got that jolt from a single line: “Protect the work.” It was the response given to an up-and-coming performer (played by Katharine McPhee) who asked a superstar (played by Jennifer Hudson) what advice she would give to a newcomer in the entertainment world. The response? “Protect the work.” Three words. That’s all. Just a well-honed line from a script? Maybe. But it was delivered like a message from the heart.

What does ‘protect the work’ mean to me? It means cherishing and honing the writing craft. Constantly. Despite all the busyness of the business. Despite all the demands of daily life. Always, in the back of my mind, as I am promoting one project, sits the gnawing awareness that there are two unedited novel-length manuscripts awaiting my attention, that one of those is especially near and dear to my heart, and that I must make time to give it the attention it deserves. It is ‘the work.’ It is all about the work. The writing.

Yes, by all means, writers must promote. But we must also set aside the time to write. Daily. We must shutterstock_107880212‘protect the work.’

Now, excuse me, while I pull an unedited manuscript from cyberspace….

My best to you,

 

Annie Signature Light Blue

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