Writing: A Dream Worth the Thud

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Dreams are amazing. They fuel our passions and send us flying. But then they get hard. They collide with reality. Gravity takes over. And falling hurts.

I want to be a writer. I want to be an author (published please!). And I know it takes work to get there. I knew that from the beginning. But knowing that what I’m going through is normal, isn’t all that helpful during the slumps.

It’s been several months since I sat down to seriously write. For a few of those I had a good excuse: my body tries to kill me when I’m pregnant. But thankfully, not for the full nine months. And so, almost six months in and able to eat food like a normal person, I should be trucking away. I’m not.

megaphone-911858_1920My inner critique is loud and obnoxious and incredibly unhelpful. My energy level is non-existent (yay pregnancy). And my inbox is full of old form rejection letters, because I haven’t been submitting enough to collect new ones.

One question keeps replaying in my head, “Why are you writing book two when no one is
interested in the first one?”

But here’s the thing, I do have an answer.

I love my story and my characters. I believe their journey deserves an ending, even (though this would be sad) if it never gets published. I just need to make sure these answers are bigger than the question.

To do this, my expectations have to change. I can’t get up at 5am anymore to write. Littlest guy won’t allow it. Nor am I truly functioning by the time we get crazy boys one and two sleeping. But there are other options. I can sneak away when hubby gets home and on the weekends. I can make time. And I should. I am happier when I am writing, making real progress.

And I can tell my inner critique to CHILL OUT. It’s different writing book two. I have a little bit too much information about how much work happens after you type the words, “The End.” But that’s not a good excuse. One of my writing buddies shared a quote by Shannon Hale a while ago that I loved:

 “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

Now, I just need to have this running through my head when I sit down to write…

And most importantly, I have to decide that the dreaming, the soaring, is worth the thud. Because it is. (Yet another life-lesson I learned from Ann of Green Gables 🙂 )angel-1008398_1280

An Unexpected Encouragement

It only takes one yes. That’s what you’re supposed to tell yourself, right? Because it’s true. But on a day like today, when I sit down to work, only to be greeted by yet another rejection letter, that message can be difficult to internalize.

20160213_085257I love writing, but it’s hard to know whether or not I’m chasing after a lost dream. Even though everyone experiences it, rejection can make me question why I’m working on my computer instead of washing the pile of dishes currently sitting behind me on the counter.

This week has been tough. My children seem to be permanently sick. My 5 o’clock alarm has gone off several times in a row, only to be ignored. I’m tired. And my internal assurances haven’t been enough to motivate great or even mediocre strides forward in my manuscript.

But sometimes outside help finds you at just the right moment.

I got an email saying I needed to moderate my website, which was surprising. Because even though I’d vowed to keep posts coming, I’ve already fallen behind. The email contained a comment in my About section, from my Dad.

“As I write this, I am thinking how proud your grandfather would be that his granddaughter is a writer!”

My grandpa, Robert T. Reilly, is one of my writing idols. He could do funny, serious, novels,Untitled design poetry, articles. For children and adults. You name it, he could write it.  And, as a child, every time I shared something I’d written, he’d ask for a copy and add it to the file he kept of my work. I loved seeing him slip my white sheet into that manila folder. Since his passing, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could share my latest projects; see him add them to my file.

It made me happy, picturing him smiling down at me, his granddaughter, the writer.

So thank you Dad for reminding me, that even in the tough weeks (or months), and even though I can’t send him anything to critique, I have to keep going. Because I have a legacy to live up to. And someone on the other side who’s waiting to put my first novel on his shelf.

Writing Lessons from a 2-Year-Old

Writing Lessons (1)I was watching my two-year-old son play the other day, running from home-base (which was me on the couch) to his kitchen play-set, his car, and then back.

Each time he left, he’d say, “Bye mommy. I go to work now.”

And I’d respond, “OK, have fun!”

Then he’d beam up at me and say, “OK. Fun.” And run off again.

I found myself wishing I could capture that pure joy. Feel the pride that completely transformed his face when he knew he’d said something and I’d understood it. I found myself wishing I could write like my 2-year-old. Not in broken –English, of course (unless the story calls for that), but totally absorbed in the wonder of words.

So, for the next couple days, I sat back and observed him with this questions in mind: What writing lessons can I learn from this crazy ball of energy? This is what I came up with.

  1. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Ever watch a kid launch himself off a rock? Or belly-flop from an ottoman to a couch? (Mine likes to preface this last one by saying, ‘Doggie, doggie, Doooo” –not sure why) They are fearless. And sure, sometimes that leads to scraped knees or a knot on their heads, but it also leads to new experiences. Some mornings I find myself sitting in front of the computer, paralyzed by the idea that I don’t know what I’m doing; worried that I’m venturing off to ‘parts-unknown’ without a map. But that’s where the stories live, and really, the worst that can happen is several hours later my delete button gets a real work-out. As one of my high school math teachers used to say, “Buck up little campers!” Adopt the courageous (and sometimes foolish) heart of a 2-year-old, and just go for it!

  1. It’s OK to talk to yourself.20150828_165243

So honestly, this is one I was pretty good at already. Hanging out with two kids all day
I’m the only adult around to talk to so I take advantage, but the way children talk to themselves is different, better. Usually when I’m holding a conversation with myself the content is boring. Chores, lists, plans for supper. When my son talks to himself he does voices (usually high and squeaky); he takes on invisible bad guys, argues with Mickey Mouse, and travels to the moon. Think of all the adventures I could write down if only I was brave enough to have them in my head first.

  1. Keep trying until you get it right.

I tend to be impatient. I try things a couple times and if I don’t get it, I move on. Imagine if I’d done that as a kid. Imagine if, after the first couple times I fell trying to take a step I’d said, “Oh well, I guess that’s not happening.” I watch my son, with his tongue stuck out in concentration, try again and again and again to stack blocks. And every time they fall he just picks them up and starts over. Writing takes drafts, lots of drafts. Publishing takes nos. But I can’t just move on. I have to keep going until the writing is right and until I get a yes.

  1. It only takes a few words to get your point across.

My son, in four words or less, can tell me he needs a drink or something to eat, wants to go to the park, can’t reach a toy…etc. But it takes me four hundred words to set a scene. When I got my first set of real edits from a critique partner one of the biggest ones was, ‘cut, cut, cut.’ And I thought to myself, “But all the beautiful words! I worked so hard to string those suckers together.” Of course, when I sat down and actually studied them, there were a lot of things I could delete. If you can say the same thing but in fewer words, you probably should. Now if only I could remember that the first time…

  1. Language is magic.

This is what really inspired the post. I take communication so lightly now. I’ve been doing it for years. I’ve forgotten its magic. But I see it again when I watch my son talk. His face illuminates after even a simple phrase like, “More yogurt please.” He’s discovering the power I take for granted. Words. Thoughts made audible.  Transformed into something that can be shared and understood. It really is magic. And if I can only tap in to the wonder I see on his face every time it works, my stories will sing.

I’m a Writer…There I said It

Several weeks ago my family and I attended a small group from our church. It was one of the first meetings so we went around the room and did introductions. Simple stuff. What’s your name? Where do you work? Questions I’ve answered a thousand times. But as they came to me, I found myself giving an answer I never have. At least not out loud and not to strangers.

“Hi, my name is Tacheny Perry and I’m a stay-at-home mom and a writer.”

 End of sentence. No caveat. No prefacing it with ‘aspiring.’ Just “I’m a writer.”

And saying it like that made my heart pound, as if when they heard the ‘unpublished’ part, they’d laugh or throw rotten fruit or something.

But I said it anyway, because that’s what I am. Being a published author may still be just a dream, but I’ve always been a writer.

I get up every morning at 5am and pour my soul into characters I’ve only book
met in my head. I laugh and cry with them, because to me they’re real. And yes, some day I want to go into a bookstore, walk over to a shelf, and find a book with my name on it. But even without that, I love sharing quiet mornings with my stories.

So here I am, irrational fear in check(mostly), introducing myself to yet another group of people:

I am a writer.

Welcome to my journey.

And please, no one throw virtual fruit at me 😉