In the lead up to the launch of Serenity Press’s upcoming Writing the Dream anthology (available for pre-order here), I’ll be sharing guest posts from some of the contributors. Thanks to Teena Raffa-Mulligan for this short and sweet post.
Once upon a time I thought writing would be easy. It can be. There are times when the words rush out like a swift-flowing current. When the stories sing on the page and on reading them later, I think, ‘Wow! Did I really write that?’
More often it’s a hard slog to get the right words on the page or screen. Like toiling laboriously up a steep mountain side to the summit. Or taking one slow step after another along a dark path with only a flickering candle to light the way. That’s when I beg the words, ‘Play nice.’ They don’t listen, of course. Instead they continue their crazy games of Hide and Seek and Catch us if you can.
I’ve learnt to allow that. To step back. To let the words come in their time, not mine. For come they will – and do. Those are the times I abandon my stories. I get on with the other important things in my life: spending treasured time with family and friends; going for walks along the beach path and listening to the waves whisper to the shore; enjoying the winter sunshine on the back patio, pausing from the book I’m reading to smile at a visit from an inquisitive wagtail. I take time out. I know that’s not the usual advice of writing tutors and successful authors who say we must write on regardless of what’s going on in our lives and how we feel. ‘Push on,’ is the message. ‘Work your way through.’
Sorry, but no. I’ve learnt to work in the way that works for me. I will take longer to write my novel than Author X and be less prolific than Author Y. I’m okay with that now.
For I’ve learnt to let go and let be when it comes to my creative process. To stop measuring my output and publishing success against that of other writers. To relinquish the illusion of being in control.
I’ve realised that stories choose me – I don’t choose them – and characters have minds of their own. They choose how and when they want their stories told…if I care to listen. And I do.
For I’ve learnt that reading books is far easier than writing them, so I might as well work with my particular process than against it…and not only with fiction. This piece, for instance, was going to be light-hearted and funny. It’s turned into something else. That’s the sort of writer I am these days. I let the words lead the way forward and see where they take me. I’m on a journey of discovery.
I’ll never stop learning about writing and who I am as a writer. And that’s the thrill of it.
Teena writes whimsical and quirky stories for children of all ages and her publications include poems, short stories, picture books and novels.
Her writing life has also included a long career in journalism, during which she has written countless articles on all manner of subjects and edited magazines, anthologies and newspapers.
She now spends her days creating stories and sharing my passion for books and writing by presenting writing sessions to encourage children and adults to explore the world of their imagination.