Slippery Things: The Process Is Writing
Life is full of things we try to grasp onto—happiness, peace, success, and long uninterrupted chunks of writing time. But all these things are fleeting and slip through your fingers like a waterfall of emails flooding my inbox. And all these gifts come and go like deep sadness, anxiety, failure. I’m happy these are fleeting.
Being a writer is a slippery thing.
The trick is, there is nothing to grasp on to or let pass. There is only writing. Writing when you want to, when you don’t want to. Yes, you can take a walk or take an afternoon off.
But don’t put it off too long. Putting off kills momentum. Putting off stops us from finishing. And what is not finished goes on a shameful stack of almosts or might-be-somedays.
But today I write. That’s my process.
I don’t talk about what I want to write. I do it. There is no success level I will reach that will satisfy the little boy who never felt like enough. Not smart enough. Not coordinated enough. Not loveable enough. That hole cannot be filled by slippery things like praise or blessings of my work.
For me to be a success, I have to write. I can’t spend my time or energy investigating what others think of my writing. I must write.
And it’s a slippery thing being a writer. Instead of reading about or spending energy trying to please the right people. Write. Writing stays. Writing lives on beyond how many stars so-and-so gave your heart and soul.
Writing is a slippery thing, If you are writing, if you are revising, if you are editing, if you are talking to the real children you write your children’s books for, then you are winning. A smile of the child that stays, that holds, that doesn’t slip away.
When teachers share a joy you sparked, that’s more than stars. That’s breath. That’s life. That makes a difference.
When I heard, “Write for yourself, not other people,” I was perplexed. But now I get it.
If you write what is true to you, it will be true to someone. Probably not everyone, but when you write, when your words flash across a screen, you win. You win against the voices in your head. These days everyone loves giving or not giving stars to every thing, every experience, every creation.
I write for children. I write for adults. I write what is true to me. Not for stars. Not for sales. But connection. I do not write to impress, but to express. There is only one way. Write. Revise. Write. Revise. Edit. And submit. Write again.
But it’s a slippery thing.
Find Jeff Anderson on Twitter @writeguyjeff or the web at writeguy.net. View videos of Jeff teaching and book trailers for his middle-grade humor Zack Delacruz series Just My Luck and Me and My Big Mouth. Book 3 Upstaged will be out in October 2018. His latest book for teachers is Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language, Grades 1-5. He lives in San Antonio, Texas with Terry, Carl, and Paisley.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION (from Stacey):
This giveaway is for a 20-minute Zoom session with Jeff, a copy of Zack Delacruz Me and My Big Mouth, and for a copy of Patterns of Power. Many thanks to Jeff Anderson, Sterling Publishing, and Stenhouse Publishers, respectively, for donating these prizes (one winner receives all three prizes). For a chance to win this prize package, please leave a comment about this post by Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Wednesday, June 6th. Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)U.S. mailing addresses only for the book. If you are the winners of this print or the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – JEFF ANDERSON. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.
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