Saturday, November 17, 2012

Writer's Wisdom

where I learn a valuable lesson and shed a lot of tears

Today I embarked on a very difficult task. I had to write a farewell letter to a very dear friend of mine. We have shared a lot over the past 9 years. The funny part about this relationship is that, after all this time, I hardly know any personal details about my friend. I don’t know this person’s full name. I don’t know exactly where my friend lives. I don’t even know what my friend looks like.
I met my friend online 9 years and 2 months ago. We started writing together with a few other people, creating fun worlds where we simply played. We called it text-based role playing. For me, it was the door for my writer’s soul to walk through and play in a safe place, with people who shared my passion for stories. The group evolved. It ebbed and flowed. People came and left. Two of my friends stayed. One of them, the one I just had to let go, wrote stories with me almost every day since that first day we met in September of 2003.

I’d like to think that even though we knew very little personal information about each other, we shared a special relationship. I felt I had found my muse’s soulmate.

Recently, I discovered my passion for writing was taking me in a different direction. I thought I could do this with 9 years of stories I had created with my writing partner. I thought we could share the next step together; share the agony of defeat and the glory of success. I hit a wall. My friend did not want to publish *anything* with me.

I was devastated. I felt devalued. I felt like all those years of writing were going to go to waste. I would have to start all over again. I panicked. I freaked out. I scared the hell out of my friend.

I don’t know if I will ever see my friend again. We made an agreement in the beginning that we would never meet in person. My friend is a very private. As my muse’s soulmate, I will always hold him in my heart.

Feeling abandoned, I hunted for other people, other writers. I searched for ways to get around the fact that I had a pile of stuff sitting in my archive files that would never be ink on a paper page or see the light of an e-reader’s screen. I still wanted to use this stuff. My partner said I could go ahead but take out his characters.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a live chat with Deanna Raybourn, another of my favorite authors. One thing she said...and I will misquote, but this is the gist of it...She said she would never go back to her old stuff because it wasn’t her. She had to let go of it. She had more words of wisdom, but that is what stuck with me and struck me as the lesson I needed to learn.

For NaNoWriMo, I have been trying to rewrite a story I thought would be particularly interesting, and I will admit, marketable. It's from my archives I had written with my friend. It isn't working. I am no longer that person who wrote the kind of characters in that story. Those characters were written in tandem with another person's characters and to gut the story just wasn't right. They will need to live forever together in my archives. Buried.

I have to let go, fix my broken heart and launch myself, free-falling if I have to, into this brave new world of Authorship. I still have hopes I will be able to share successes and failures with my friend. In the meantime, I hope I continue to meet new friends, who just may catch me when I fall.

I feel like I was led to all of these discoveries in the past two weeks. Whether I was guided by my muse, my sisu (see blurb in side menu), or by God, I don’t know. I would like to believe it has been all of these things with the help of other writers who are sharing their wisdom as I continue on this journey.

A quote from another author I found has helped to bolster me on this emotional day. This is from Allison Brennan and her interview at Mysterious Writers.

“Write boldly and with passion, because that’s what it takes to stand out in this tight market. But mostly, write with the love of writing, because even when you curse the computer and your lack of imagination and your fear of failure and your fear of success, even when you think you’re writing total garbage, deep down you love it because it’s you.”

Thank you Allison and Deanna for your words of wisdom.


  1. Here's a little update for those interested. I heard from my writing partner. We may not write together for awhile, and I am still on my own for the publishing adventure, but we are still friends and that is enough for me. :) ~Shanah

  2. Shanah, what a lovely post. Very poetic and poignant. I think you'll do fabulously.

  3. Thank you! I think you're on the "write" path too, and I am very glad to have met you. :)

  4. Thanks for this beautiful and heartfelt update. So good to know the "epilogue" to the stories I heard during our "wonderful and woolly weekend." I feel the need to send you both condolances and congratulations! Love you, sis.

  5. :) Thank you for being there to listen, Carol! Only good has come of this crash course in self discovery. Love back!

  6. Darn, I still weep when I reread this post.

  7. Reading this vivid account of your journey reminds me that there is absolute purpose in everything. I know in my heart that this had to happen to bring you somewhere you needed to be. You may not know why just yet, and your painful, broken heart may cloud your ability to see at the moment, but trust me, one day you will look back and know that the personal growth that emerged from all of this was not only a good thing, it was necessary. God's speed, sista'!

  8. You have grown since then. I have no doubt the direction this stuggle has pointed you in, will lead you to write better more rounded characters.