I am a writer. This is not negotiable.

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I read a lot. Books and blogs primarily. I have an excellent attention span but little patience for bad writing or information that doesn’t add to my life. As you can see from my blog roll, I focus on writing blogs. There are some amazing blogs out there, offering sound advice, voices of experience, and challenges to readers. And, of course, some blogs offer nothing more than what Steve Martin calls “Pure Drivel“.

Charlotte Rains Dixon over at Word Strumpet is one of the amazing bloggers who nourishes my writing appetite. Several days ago, she asked her readers, “What are your writing non-negotiables?” Normally I respond right away but something about that question caused me to pause, reflect on my beliefs – not just as a writer but as a person – and inventory my negotiating skills.

Let me stop for a second to confess that I am not good at confrontation. Scares me to death. I have a visceral reaction to it. Red face, increased heart rate, cotton mouth, itchy palms. However, when it comes to writing, I am the Karate Kid in crane stance, facing Johnny Lawrence of The Cobras, saying, “Bring it.”

C’mon, Johnny. These legs pack heat.

I haven’t always been this tough about my writing. For years, I cowered under the blanket of bullying, believing my “little hobby” was a waste of time. But after 39 years of living, I’m done with submitting to the voices of ignorance, jealousy, and control. It’s personal. And I’m willing to take names.

So, Charlotte, what are my writing non-negotiables? 

1. I don’t negotiate with terrorists (those critics – inner and otherwise – who aim to terrorize me into an inert, catatonic, non-productive state).
2. Write when I can, because I can.
3. Remember that what works for others may not (and probably won’t) work for me.
4. Write until the end…of the sentence, paragraph, page, idea.
5. Write for me. Audience is important, too, but I write to breathe and fly in the blue skies of freedom.
 
Whew. I did it. 

39 IS just a number. Right?

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Last week I celebrated my birthday. Not quite a milestone, but the big four-oh is rapidly approaching. Birthdays tend to put me in a contemplative, reflective trance. Time’s sweet, scary passage bodes its relevance through birthdays rather than a New Year. Resolutions weaken my resolve. But as I celebrate my birth, I think about my life – what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and where I’m going.

Flowers from my dear friend

I sat down with a few dear friends this past weekend, discussing everything from Facebook and perceptions to writing and the beauty of grey.  Our conversations stimulate hours of contemplation, and often prompt an afternoon nap (due to deep conversation overload!). However, this particular day prompted a to-do list. Not the kind of list that sits on a counter collecting dust but the kind that simmers on the heart and mind for years.

My pre-40 list (of the non-bucket variety):

  1. Feel better physically and mentally
  2. Get to Plot Point 2 in my novel
  3. Attend a writing retreat
  4. Strengthen my relationship with God
  5. Write daily (blogging, WIP, journaling)
  6. De-clutter my life and mind (prune away the people and things keeping me from being true to myself and God’s call for me)

I can do this. Forty isn’t that scary…