31 August 2011

Hard Times: Great Writing

by Carrie Bailey

I’m often asked, “Why call your site Peevish Penman? You aren’t peevish at all.”

Oh, but they are wrong. Minor injustices cause me endless irritation. By minor, I mean events that devastate only me and by irritation I’m talking about intense and unbearable suffering. It’s inspiration. But you won’t find this muse’s pamphlets and cheap goods sitting around my apartment collecting dust just because he’s been knocking down my door day and night. Hard times fuel my passion for writing.  

As a testament to the undeniable and completely unfair truth that events we didn’t want to happen to us often prompt some of our best writing, I’ve complied a list of the most agonizing lessons I’ve learned along the way.

  • Emotions are like the weather. One day you’ll be confident about your writing and the next, you’ll be inundated with doubt. Be prepared to weather the storms.
  • The truth can hurt. Writing is a craft that requires dedication and development. Admit your mistakes and keep learning.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s why writers invented editing.
  • For every great undertaking, there is an equal and opposite resistance to it. People who discourage you are just trying to save you the burden of success.  
  • Bullies can be found everywhere. All the best stories have them, because they really are lurking around every corner waiting to inspire your story’s antagonists.
  • If you have great ideas, someone will probably try to steal them. This is the easiest way to identify the best ones.  
  • You can’t help everyone. Lost causes make great antagonists, but terrible writing partners.

 …but it’s not all hard times, is it? So, here’s a list of inspiring lessons from the other muse, the more welcome one who stops by to chat like an old friend visiting town for the day…

  • Inspiration is everywhere. If even the hard times can inspire a writer, then motivation may never be lacking. The writing life is one filled with aspirations.
  • There’s always something to be grateful for. Maybe it’s a recent compliment or a publication or a plot bunny hopping into view. Either way the writing life is full of achievements both big and small.
  • Your effort will be recognized. Many people admire writers, because they’re brave talented people who work hard.
  • You write your own story. It’s an empowering truth to recognize that not only do you control your own destiny, but you write your own stories, too.  
  • Words have value. At first it may be hard to believe people will pay you to do something you love, like writing, until the day it actually happens. This day does come.
  • Words have power. And you’re a writer, which means you’re a force to be reckoned with. One story can change a person’s life.
And finally…
  • Words have meaning. A life full of words both read and written is a life filled with meaning and that’s something that can carry a writer through even the hardest times.  

Carrie Bailey is the editor of Peevish Penman and The Handbook of the Writer Secret Society, which is a humorous anthology written about crucial lessons writers learned during development of their careers. Peevish Penman is currently accepting both queries and submissions for the second edition.

1 comment:

  1. I find this write up very interesting. do you mind if we feature your blog in our newsletter? we would also include your blog address to draw readers to it. what do you say?
    reply to @Eabasiama