Write Now Newsletter – March 2005

by | Mar 3, 2005 | Write Now Columbus Essay Archives

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Dear Writers:

It’s time for me to put my money where my pen is. For nine years, my teaching, speaking and writing have been primarily designed to get you off the sofa, away from the TV, out of the refrigerator and onto the page. I’ve learned lots of tricks and found ways to bribe, coerce, and sneak you into writing. But it’s not enough. No matter how many books you publish, how many of your bylines appear in The New Yorker or The New York Times, no matter how many of your poems Pudding House publishes in tidy little chapbooks, it’s still you out there writing. It’s not me. And while I love watching you succeed, I’m more interested in succeeding myself.

I rarely quote Julia Cameron, not because she’s not helpful, but because after I read the Artist’s Way, I didn’t hit the ground running in the same way I did after I read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. But Cameron got one thing dead right – her message about shadow artists. These are the kind of people who marry writers, people who teach when they want to write, people who build empires for writers when, deep inside, they want someone else to build a writing empire for themselves. That’s me.

Every time I sit in a coffeehouse, I dream of owning a place that caters solely to writers. I see a place that has an electrical outlet at every table, quiet music to court the muse, a complete reference library, Internet access and not just coffee with free refills, but fresh salads and hot soup, since writers cannot live by decaf soy mochas and raspberry almond scones alone. Just when I think I have the floor plan worked out in my head and am ready to call my friend the real estate investor, a little voice taps me on the shoulder and says, “Excuse me, didn’t you want to write?” And I realize that I’m once again half a step from sabotaging my true dream, the dream of my own writing.

So I’m going to lead by example. I don’t exactly know what that’s going to look like yet, but I imagine it will involve less teaching, less coaching, less involvement with this newsletter, and, most importantly, more writing. I apologize if this inconveniences or scares any of you, but I have to do it for myself.

In the meantime, please do the same. Examine your life and find the areas that aren’t supporting your writing, the ways in which you are needlessly giving away your energy, not following your dreams. I’m not suggesting abandoning your children or leaving your spouse, although there are plenty of historical examples of writers who found it necessary to devote themselves to writing as their only lover. Rather, I’m hoping you will find one way in which you are giving to something else and thereby letting yourself be pushed away from your dream. Have the courage to say “No.” This may involve difficult choices, but you’re worth it.

And so am I.

Nita(where’d I put that parachute?)Sweeney
(c) 2005 by Nita Sweeney

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