I Write Because I Am

Pam Asberry and Jana Oliver
Saturday I attended the monthly meeting of George Romance Writers. Jana Oliver was our featured speaker. She provided the kick in the pants I needed. Since mid-November, when I dropped the ball on NaNoWriMo, I have been in a real writing slump.

January and February are always busy months for me professionally. My piano students participate in NFMC Federated Festival mid-February and I am often called upon to judge for other area piano festivals; this year is no exception. Also, I spent a couple of weeks creating a series of Valentine’s Day pieces for my Etsy store; now I am working on a line of chain mail bracelets and earrings as well as a line of stamped metal pendants.  Not to mention the housework and laundry and cooking and… well, you get the drift.

But I am a woman with a dream. And if I’m going to call myself a writer, well, I have to WRITE. According to Chris Guillebeau, more than 80% of people claim to want to write a book, but less than 1% actually do. (Click HERE for Chris’s article How to Write a Book). The odds of publication after that are small, too, but that’s beside the point. And it’s a sure thing I won’t be published if I don’t write books. GREAT books. And you can’t edit a blank page.
For the past several weeks, I have been participating in Bob Mayer‘s online Write-It-Forward Workshop.  In this class, Bob has challenged us to examine our goals and fears as writers in light of our personality styles and character traits; he has asked some hard questions, too. I have tried to be honest with my responses but have discovered that they have changed as the weeks have gone by. As a result, I have a clearer picture of my goals and motivations, the lies I tell myself, and what I must be willing to sacrifice in order to succeed.

I am ready.

I judged for a piano festival last Sunday, and one of the students I heard has Tourette’s Syndrome. His teacher had warned me about his condition ahead of time; I was prepared for anything, including the possibility that he might totally wig out and not be able to complete his performance. Well, what happened was completely the opposite.

This little boy marched into the room, extended his hand to me, and said, “Hi, I’m James, and I have Tourette’s Syndrome.” Then he sat down at the piano and gave the most moving performance I heard all day: impeccably memorized, stylistically accurate and musically sensitive. If I hadn’t known he had Tourette’s Syndrome, I would never have guessed. Of course, I would like to pat myself on the back and attribute it to my ability to make others feel comfortable. But the truth is it was all I could do to keep myself from bursting into tears at his honesty and sensitivity. I gave him a hands-down Superior. He thanked me politely for it afterwards. But I didn’t give him anything he didn’t absolutely earn.

If that little boy, not even ten years old, can wake up every morning, face down an evil monster like Tourette’s Syndrome, and make his way through another day, how can I not muster the fortitude to meet my daily word count goal? Yeah, I’m not a millionaire and life is hard sometimes. But compared to James, I have absolutely NOTHING to complain about.

Now, back to Jana and her message on Saturday. It was powerful. In the end, she said to trust the gift, the story, the characters, YOURSELF. And that’s what I’m learning to do.

Trust. Myself.