By Michel Stone
While on book tour with my first novel, I was given by the clerk at the wonderful bookstore Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, SC a t-shirt that remains one of my favorites. It sports the William Faulkner quote: I write when inspiration hits me. Fortunately it hits me each day at 10 a.m.
I’m often asked by beginning writers for my ONE PIECE of advice. They seek the silver bullet to ensure the seemingly magical and elusive metamorphosis from writer to published writer. After years of my own ups and down in this writer’s life, I’m certain Faulkner’s adage will remain true.
My one steadfast piece of advice is this: Write. Without self-discipline and commitment to the craft, you will not, cannot, be a writer. When I offer this ostensibly lackluster counsel, I’m invariably met with half-hearted giggles and disappointed faces, so I tend to follow-up with additional pearls of wisdom I’ve gleaned over the years. But I always come back to this: Often the difference between a published author and a fabulously talented unpublished author is that the one who got published continued to plod along when the other writer quit.
I know that pursuing the writer’s life can be frustrating. You are not alone in your frustration, but take heart, and don’t spend time worrying about things you cannot control. Keep putting the words on the page in the way that only you can put them. Keep chugging along if that’s what you're compelled to do. Sometimes everything feels like a super frustrating logjam. I know; I’ve been there countless times. But just when I’ve thrown my hands in the air in utter exasperation, something gives. I’ve decided something will always give, but only if I stay the course and keep plodding along. And yes, at times the writer’s life does feel like plodding. But other times, and I know you know this because you are a writer, writing is power and freedom and beauty and magic, and you know, you KNOW, that you are doing what you were meant to do.
You must remember that the story you want to write won’t get written if you don’t have the discipline to write it. Know that the universe offers you everything you need to write the book you want to write and that the universe’s giving increases exponentially as your dedication to and belief in the process increases. In other words, stick to it and the doors will keep opening. Stop writing and the doors will stop opening. Work creates opportunity and feeds work.
So, go on. Get to your writing desk and make sure inspiration strikes you, even if you have to throw the first punch.
Michel Stone is a writer, speaker, educator, and community volunteer. In 2018 she was awarded the Patricia Winn Award for Southern Literature. Her critically acclaimed novels Border Child (April 2017, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2017) and The Iguana Tree (Hub City Press, 2012) have been compared to the writings of John Steinbeck and both books have been optioned for film. Border Child has been favorably reviewed by The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, Charleston Magazine, The Charlotte Observer, The New York Journal of Books, Kirkus (starred review) among many others. Stone has published numerous stories and essays, and she is a 2011 recipient of the South Carolina Fiction Award. She is a graduate of Clemson University with a Master's Degree from Converse College, and she is an alumna of the Sewanee Writers Conference. Stone is the immediate past board chair of the Hub City Writers Project and has served on The Spartanburg Regional Foundation Board, The Clemson University Humanities Advancement Board, and as a Trustee of Spartanburg Day School. Stone is a Spartanburg Regional Fellow and serves on the President’s Advisory Council for Wofford College. She is a Fellow of the 12th class of the Liberty Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Her first name is pronounced like Michelle (people always ask!) Her latest book is Border Child. Her website is https://www.michelstone.com