My 90-in-90—days of writing in that many days—is already 5 days old. I’ve established a routine: so far so good.
Soyen Shaku’s heart burned for his daily meditation practice, as mine does for my daily writing practice. Like him: ‘Upon awakening, I leave my bed behind me instantly as if I had cast away a pair of old shoes.’
Mornings are for writing. Before breakfast, with a cup of tea, I head to my desk. I glance at my email just in case an emergency has arisen overnight. I respond to no one; everything can wait till after my morning session. I realize an urgent message would be delivered some other way. Soon I will wean myself off looking at all until I’ve put in my hours.
I turn off my phones, pick up my pen and start up where I left off the day before. Yes, first draft is always with pen and paper. It brings me closer to the words. It’s messy. There is no sound but the scratching of my fountain pen, no light straining my eyes, and no Internet calling to me.
Hemingway always left one sentence unfinished at the end of a day so he wouldn’t have to stare at a blank page first thing in the morning. I’m no Hemingway, don’t want to be, but I like that.
I write in a spiral bound notebook, the ones kids use for school. You can buy them in bulk, cheap, in September when school starts. Natalie Goldberg taught me this.
Afternoons are for the business of writing. There’s so much of that to do, as I climb the steep learning curve of self-publishing, that it could become a full time job; but I won’t let it, because writing is what burns in my heart.
Self-publishing is empowering and exciting; and thankfully, it is losing some of its stigma of old as some self-published ebooks outsell major name authors at much lower prices.
I am getting into the swing of Tweeting, following people, having people follow me, finding other writers out there working alone and yet in community—a virtual speak-easy or salon, but rather like junior high. As with most of us who follow a solitary pursuit, I’m not big on socializing, but this I can do. Come to think of it, I was pretty happy in junior high school.
I don’t have all my ducks in a row yet for a crackerjack marketing campaign for my new book, my first novel, my new child so to speak. And if I were a legacy publisher (this is the new term for the Simon & Schuster’s of the world, a company I once worked for) I’d give up on myself by now, as sales are slow out of the gate. This giving up on authors, or being unwilling to take a risk and nurture new talent, may eventually be one of the nails in the coffin of book publishing as we once knew it.
I’m sure it will take time to build a following, to build sales, to get noticed and reviewed. But that’s okay, I’m not going anywhere and I won’t put my book out of print. Because there are so many books out there, especially with so many people jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon, it’s harder than ever for readers to wade through and find the gems. But they do and if mine is one, it will be found.
My years of meditation practice and honing patience will come in handy as I travel this new path. I believe in my story, my characters, discriminating readers and our future together.
If you’re a writer and want some motivation to write, join me and @tootsuter on the 90-in-90 writing journey. Find us on Twitter at #90daysofwriting. Get your pen moving! Get your heart burning! Get that book you’ve always dreamed of writing out there in the world!