Monday, September 6, 2010

Who Works You to the Bone?

Labor Day. I know exactly the topic you want me to dive into today—work!
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Lately I’ve been thinking about why I spend hours upon hours sharpening my craft. Who’s behind my back cracking the whip? Handing me deadlines. Putting the pressure on, squeezing words out of me as though I’m a literary tube of toothpaste.
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Who’s working me to the bone?
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My answer might surprise you.
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It’s not an agent. I don’t have one yet. The search will begin soon.
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It’s not an editor (see above).
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It’s not my critique partners. While they’ve been nothing but encouraging, they don’t order me to write. There’s no quota I’m expected to meet.
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It’s not my family or friends. While my closest loved ones know I’m slaving away writing books, and all of them are eager to receive free copies someday, my fingers don’t fly over the keyboard because of them.
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It’s not me. I’m disciplined, there’s no question there, but to write and edit with such determination, I rely on an inhuman strength.
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What, you say. Then, who? Who turns your dreams into nightmare editing sessions? Who makes you pull the car over so you can jot a quick note about a character description? Who forces 1,000 words out of you every day or coaxes you to edit until your brain feels like soggy oatmeal? Who, then?
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It’s a tag team effort.
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God. I love to learn and grow. God knows this so He wired me with a thirst for creativity. My faith is such an influencing factor on why I write—why I put the hours in. It’s a form of service, pleasing God, a response to a given responsibility. God lovingly works me to the bone, until I write from that core place, the exposed place where honesty meets imagination.
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As God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, so He breathes a vision into each of us.
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(Am loving Walking on Water: Reflections of Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle. She addresses the above topic with such finesse)
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My characters. As I’ve pondered why I pour in the work that I do, guess whose faces surface the most? Yep. Those of my characters. They crack that whip. They’re intent on my getting their stories written with integrity. Polished to a shine. Even if that means reading through a manuscript for the twentieth time. Even if that means revisiting a manuscript I’d thrown in a dusty pile. Even if that means typing until I can’t feel my fingers because circulation has left the body.
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I’m a huge advocate of knowing why we do the things we do.
It’s important to remind ourselves who we do it for.
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I’ll continue to write. With an agent. With an editor. With critique partners, sharing my work with family and friends. And I’ll write a wee bit for me (okay maybe a lot for me, but that’s another post for another time). But mostly…mostly I write for God and my characters. That’s who I’m working for.
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Who are you working for?
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*click over to Exemplify to read my article, The Beauty of No.
**photos by flickr

19 comments:

  1. What a WONDERFUL post!
    I pray that my answer is GOD. And I guess myself, to honor the contracts I've signed!!
    So...also, my publishers.

    Sigh. The list is getting longer!

    Blessings, dear Wendy.
    GREAT POST!!!
    Patti

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  2. Great post. I work me to the bone! I am learning to have more balance in that area, but I expect a lot of myself :)

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  3. Can't wait to hear about your journey to get an agent! Exciting!! :O)

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  4. Grat post!!! I love the way you lead into this:)) I work for God as well because he gave me this desire--no one else.

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  5. Our sermon at church yesterday was about pushing ourselves to the limits of our talents...laying everything out there for God to use. Talk about motivation! :)

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  6. ah, I like this answer Wendy. It is so insightful.

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  7. Cool post, Wendy!!! I hadn't thought about writing for my characters! What a wonderful way to look at it!

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  8. I have to say that I used to rely on my characters to help me. To drive me. Now that I have other fingers in the cookie jar, I have to balance a lot more. It's harder. I'm not complaining, just noting the difference.

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  9. Love this Wendy. What a great question and a great post. You have me thinking as usual.

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  10. Wendy:
    You give me a lot to think about. I believe I write for God. But still you make me pause and reflect. Thank you for that.

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  11. Patti, It's funny how that list can grow, isn't it? As much as I hope the list grows for me someday soon, I also hope it always remains the same. Not sure that made any sense whatsoever, but that's allowed. My brain isn't working today. It's Labor Day.

    Tabitha, Yeah, I can't lie, I probably do it to myself. After all, where do those characters come from. Nice way to displace my workaholic tendencies though, eh? ;)

    Diane, Not sure I'll post much about it as it is in the works, but someday I'll be excited to share.

    Terri, Isn't that cool, that the desire comes from God!

    Sarah, That is motivating and sometimes I'll hear something in a sermon that will be a real kick in the pants. Hope you got a lot from the message. Can't wait to meet you in less than 2 weeks.

    Tess, I'm just so glad you write ah like I do. I love writing Ah b/c I think it so often.

    Jody, I'm pretty sure they were crouched over my back as I wrote the other night cracking a whip, not letting me go to bed until I got a part nailed.

    Elana, I imagine it is different and if I'm blunt, a little less free flowing having all those opinions and people eating cookie crumbs. But it's getting you closer to your dream and you get to eat the big cookies with them...so all is good. :D

    Susan, Kind of wish I could have turned off my brain today. Would have been nice for the holiday, but I guess it doesn't work like that.

    QS, Love that I caused you to reflect. One of my greatest hopes is to do that when I write.

    Thanks for stopping in on the holiday, peeps. We hiked out to a waterfall today. Was inspiring to be in nature--I'll never get enough of the outdoors.

    See you on Wed. when I 8 Wednesday by telling you eight reasons I'm excited to attend ACFW in less than 2 weeks!

    Peace,
    Wendy

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  12. Good post! I need to ponder this a bit, for I want to be sure I am on the right track.
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  13. My own mentality works me over. I draw, I write with it telling me what to draw. My conscience isn't that hard sometimes, just when I'm doing especially big things.

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  14. I think it's me! *raises hand* I feel like I work SO hard and I know it's because I really want what I'm pursuing. At the end of the day I need to feel like I did everything I could to achieve my goals. I'd hate to waste a single minute!

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  15. I can't remember exactly who said it but at a conference, I recall a writer saying, "My muse is the short little man at the bank who holds my mortgage."

    As writing is my career, I do it for the clients and for the paycheck. It is not always what I WANT to write--sales letters, website copy, brochures, etc. It allows me to work from home, partner with my husband and support my children.

    On the other hand, I want to write fiction and essays. After a long day at business copy, the last thing I want to look at is the keyboard. And my discipline often falls into pitiful shambles.

    But it is a balance I am still perfecting. My business writing pays bills and helps small businesses. My fiction writing is as necessary as breathing and will eventually come out in dribbles and dabs.

    Beyond discipline, I also need to work on patience!

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  16. Okay, I admit that's not what I was expecting. I figured you'd say you were self-motivated. This post is wonderful! I'm glad you have such a great team!

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  17. You took the words right out of my mouth~ literately!

    I love that you emphasized that its our service, because it really is. God requires that I be a good steward over the gifts He has given me.

    You have a winning team my friend:)

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  18. Wendy, I think you covered it all.

    Right now I am just supremely relieved to be finished with my edits and looking forward to conference as a little vacation.

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  19. Hi Wendy -

    Great post!

    I think revisiting the reasons we write is critical to keeping us motivated. Entrepreneurs write a business plan. Why shouldn't we write down our original vision and keep it before us?

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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