“Blackberries need the rain AND sun” — on writing and its fuel

When we moved into our house, we started planting berry bushes almost right away. Our blueberry bushes have exploded in the last few weeks, and we’ve already picked all of our raspberries and strawberries. We were lucky to find some wild blackberry bushes all over the bluff down to the river behind our house.

My three year old and I have been checking the blackberries nearly every day for the last few weeks. We watched them turn from flowers, to little black nubs, and now they are hard green berries. It rained all day on Monday and I said to Bryce, “our blackberries are going to love this rain!  They’re going to get fat and juicy!”

And then he said to me, “the blackberries need rain and sun, Mommy!”

And it’s cheesy, but I couldn’t help compare that to writing. I have been in one of those IMG_1368desperate states lately – I’m sure you know the one that I’m talking about. Maybe you’re in a reading slump, or haven’t gone for a walk in two months, or missing your yoga mat. But for me, it’s because I’ve been thinking a lot about writing again and want to return to the manuscript that I started last November, but I’m too scared! And I’m scared for so many reasons: because I know that I don’t have the time I need to devote to it; because I’m worried that I’m not good enough; because I don’t want to face any scrutiny.

But in order to get better, writing needs to be exposed to sunshine. It can’t be ferreted away into a dark closet, never seeing the light of day. There are some geniuses out there who are master storytellers and don’t need help. But most writers have gotten a ton of practice and a lot of feedback. They’ve shined and polished their work to no end. Of course I feel like I can’t compete, because I never have! I’ve never had the guts to submit anything and get critiqued.

Lately I’ve been focused on feeding my writing by reading as much as I possibly can and soaking up the techniques of other writers. I’ve noticed that I’m reading differently lately – trying to understand how stories are told and finding my favorite styles of writing. I have to say that I really like reading this way because it feels so much more active.

Most of my writing time has been spent writing my thoughts on books and with blogging, but I have to figure out how to work on different projects. I love blogging; I love how beautiful blogs can be and how quickly one can build a body of work, so I don’t want to give it up. I’m working on tracking my time again to figure out when to squeeze in a substantial amount of time to devote to my manuscript, because I miss it and its time we get reacquainted! I don’t want to spend any of my family time working on this pet project and I work 30 hours a week, so there’s a big chunk of time that’s off limits. This is going to mean either early mornings (I already get up at 4:30 to fit everything in!) or late nights — or giving up something else.

And now I’m being summoned by tiny little voices, so I must run!


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