Four Potent Sources of Encouragement for the Writer/Artist

ImageHave you subscribed to dozens of writer-support emails/newsletters and engaged in multiple artist/writer forums over the years? How much have they helped your life as a writer/artist? What I am looking for is probably the same thing you are looking for– encouragement. Encouragement comes from ideas that help me morph back into the creative spirit I most love being.

Such encouragement gives me courage and energy.

Does it feel as if it is in short supply?

Here are four hotspot articles of true encouragement recently found, and I am not talking about the clever, rambling email letters that attempt to sell you a book at the end of a long page.

1. Jon Morrow has written a thoughtful piece entitled “How to be Smart in a World of Dumb Bloggers” (Sept 17, 2013) Normally I would comment on his blog, but this is superior material and needs to be shared. It will make the reader think about his or her approach to life. Morrow’s suggestions are not that hard, and if followed, will make writers/artists feel better about life.

(Simply mentioning Morrow’s piece here will ensure  I go back to re-read it and be re-inspired!)

2. Morrow’s article came to my attention from an article entitled “49 Creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art” written by Leanne Regalla (Jan 23, 2014), and Morrow wasn’t even listed as one of the 49-ers, but his was the link that plucked me up the most.

3. My window onto the world above was opened by subscription to The Writer’s Weekly written by Kimberley Grabas. the most recent one being The Definition of Marketing (Issue #28) This was a fantastic post leading to multiple colored, glowing doors, almost all of which feel useful and helpful to writers and artists. Tell me if I am wrong.

4. Not all the best encouragement is found on the web, especially when you think of all the internet dross to be avoided. Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, edited by Laurie Lamson (2014) and published by Penguin is a valuable recent book I have added to my shelves. There is advice in it from speculative writers of every kind, from Dr. Seuss to screenwriters whose names you might not recognize but whose movies you will.

For instance, Jeremy Wagner (who wrote The Armegedon Chord) has a short piece encouraging writers (and artists) to be prolific. So many writers stop writing due to lack of encouragement–they become the opposite of prolific. Wagner uses a clear and simple argument: writing  more makes you a better writer.

Being better at anything opens doors.

Wagner’s idea took three minutes to read and has stayed with me for weeks.

May today be a day you find encouragement.

Witches don’t like Muggle Books

ImageThe day before yesterday, I received Roald Dahl’s manual on how to spot a witch (titled The Witches). It arrived about five hours too late, but at least I was able to understand, in hindsight, that my writer friend Connie Kirchberg and I had spent our entire morning and afternoon in a witches’ coven. We thought we were at a simple Christmas bazaar where we took either half of a six foot table to display our books, hers and mine (and for me, a few of my handcrafted dolls).

Home again much disappointed, I found Dahl’s words took a few moments to penetrate my skull: “REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ORDINARY JOBS.”

Most of the women at the bazaar did wear ordinary clothes, not a dead giveaway in itself, but bright hypnotic, sparkling jewelry dangled off many of their necks and earlobes, the kind of baubles you don’t see on real shoppers. The jewelry left Connie and me stunned and mute.

Dahl writes, “A real witch spends all her time plotting to get rid of the children in her particular territory.” Indeed, there were no children present. There was another writer, of children’s books, who like us had innocently ambled into the so-called Christmas bazaar. The fact that she was not a witch was demonstrated by her being able to pick up our (Muggle) books in her hands. She bought a single book from each of us.Image

She had to be human. You see, witches will not open a Muggle book, just as vampires do not like to pass before mirrors. A witch cannot see herself with her nose in a book (if not about magic) any more than a vampire can cast a reflection in a mirror.  Why didn’t I think of that? Sometimes you forget things. (I need to bone up on my Rowling.)

More than one table at the bazaar had women offering to stick needles into my face. One woman crept up behind me with the offer, crouched in a squat, whispering her indecent proposal with a polite simper: “We sell botox by the unit.”

Connie adds her comments:

The witch thing does explain a lot.

I would estimate approximately 150 women attended the bazaar; of those, perhaps half a dozen actually touched a book. The others either smiled and averted their eyes as they passed our table, or frowned at the strange combination of subjects our books presented. Who, after all, would want to read a biography about two of the most famous men of the 20th Century, Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon? A book that continues to find shelf space in some of our most prestigious universities in the country some 14 years after its commercial publication? What in the world are schools such as Stanford, Harvard, and USC thinking? And who would dare delve into a beautifully written, honest memoir of an American woman’s experience in Saudi Arabia? A book that doesn’t exaggerate the facts to make it more worthy in the eyes of today’s publishers, even though a high brow literary agent requested she do so?

 All sarcasm aside, Tuesday presented Julia and me with yet one more reason to believe the old ways of doing business for writers are over. No one wants to buy books from local authors unless said authors are famous. Like it or not—and most of us do not—the future for the majority of writers is Kindle. And on further thought, maybe that’s not so bad. We have a place to sell our books, we just have to figure out how to build an audience there. That’s no small task of course, but no one ever said being a writer was easy. Well, no one who actually tried it, anyway.