Tag Archives: writers

Beyond the Page

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks fielding the fallout that comes after a divorce. From the public comments of “She’s a sicko to celebrate a divorce!” and “Who gets rid of a husband after 24 years of marriage?” to the private comments that cannot be repeated, I have been struggling to reconcile the image of who I am with the truth of who I am.

As novelists, we try to convey the emotional truth through the lives of our characters, whether they are protagonists or antagonists. We use the tools of our trade to create the depth needed to gain a reader’s sympathy or understanding. If we succeed, then our books resonate with our audience.

Once we step beyond the page, we novelists become just people, no different than the clerk in the grocery store you don’t give a second thought to once you check out or the aunt you text once a week to see if she’s okay. We are three dimensional people with three dimensional lives making three dimensional decisions, but we are sometimes treated like one dimensional caricatures by strangers, acquaintances, or people who say they love, support, and understand us.

Not everyone has the ability to walk in another person’s shoes and feel their pain, their longing, their hopes, or their fears. But as a writer, I would hope there are more people who are acutely aware and chronically compassionate, people who would never say, “There’s something wrong with them for behaving in a certain way,” not because they agree with our actions, but because they can see beyond their own sphere of beliefs, mores, and judgments.

Maybe this is part of the curse of being a writer. You become stuck in a world of make believe. You know anything is possible because you can create it. Good and evil. That’s why you persist in going forward through the thicket of protestors who cannot see beyond the image. You keep the faith because you know the emotional truth of who we are and why we’re here and how we are united.

WRITERS ARE ATHLETES

Santa Rosa Marathon

What does a writer have in common with an athlete?

A lot.

Hard as it may be to imagine the sedentary, day dreamy lifestyle of a writer as comparable with the action-packed, movement-filled lifestyle of an athlete, writers and athletes travel a parallel path toward success.

Here’s what I’ve learned from sports rehabilitation and writing through the trenches:

YOU MUST SET A GOAL

Athletes must have an objective: win a gold medal in the Olympics, run a marathon, or qualify to play on a local softball team.

Without a contract or a deadline, no one cares whether or not you show up at your desk to write. You must set a goal and work toward it. You might want to query your favorite magazine, write a book proposal, finish a short story, or land a book deal or find an agent to represent you. Any of these goals is good enough to get you started.

YOU MUST CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK WITH IT

An athlete is disciplined. Training schedules must be followed. Diets must be balanced. Sleep must be maintained. An entire lifestyle must encompass the athlete in order for the goal to be achieved.

Writers must also be disciplined. Set a writing schedule. Follow it. Make sure you eat right to think right. Exercise the body to exercise the brain. Sleep long and deeply so that creativity may be replenished. A writer must create a lifestyle to support the creative habit and allow it to flourish.

YOU MUST HAVE A SUPPORT TEAM

Athletes get injured, miss milestones, reset goals, and even fail. Writers are no different.

Athletes surround themselves with doctors, nutritionists, rehabilitation experts, sports psychologists, and coaches to build up the support team needed to sustain them through the ups and downs of training toward a goal.

Writers must surround themselves with people who support their writing: family and friends, fellow writers, editors, publishers, marketing experts, agents, attorneys, and people in other creative disciplines such as acting, music, and art.

Does an athlete cross the finish line alone? No. The support team is in the crowd, cheering the athlete on, celebrating the victory.

When you sign your publishing contract, you are not alone. Your support team is behind you, cheering you on, celebrating your victory.

The same is true with failure: you do not fail alone. Others are there to go over the play-by-play, break it down, analyze what went wrong and why, and help create a winning strategy for the future.

YOU MUST EXHIBIT GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP

Good sportsmanship means thinking of others: teammates and opponents. An athlete who exhibits good sportsmanship wins with humility and fails with grace.

Be kind. Be gracious. Be magnanimous.

Be a good sport.

Celebrate the success of other writers. Someday those same writers will celebrate your success.

Whether you are an athlete or a writer, the journey is the same: a life tailored around achieving a goal with the help of a support team in the midst of opponents who will push you to give your all in the pursuit of your dreams.



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