By Susie Finkbeiner
If Hollywood is to be believed, writers live fabulous lives. We write in the seclusion of our log cabin overlooking the Adirondacks only to jet to New York City for posh cocktail parties with our agents. Then we’re off to L.A. to discuss with directors who we’ll choose to will play the lead in the movie adaptation of our bestseller. Then, back to the cabin where we are met with mind-blowing inspiration.
Oh. And somewhere in all of that we find time to solve a murder mystery.
What glamor! What excitement! What an absolute hoot!
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t come close to describing my writing life. You know what the most exciting thing to happen to me last week was? Getting a fresh package of pens.
I am not kidding you.
Let’s face it. The writing life can be redundant, mundane.
We get up. We write a little, edit a little, agonize over commas a lot. We check our calendars to see how close we are to deadline and write some more. Then we go to bed. The next day is often the same.
Many of us work a day-job and family into the mix.
Same old, same old.
So, how do we keep it fresh? How do we keep ourselves from slogging through the day-to-day?
1. Get a change of scenery: Move to a different spot in the house to write. Go to a coffee shop for a few hours. Write outside! Sometimes all it takes to freshen things up is a little change in atmosphere.
2. Celebrate EVERY victory: Did you meet a word count goal? Celebrate. Write a killer scene? Celebrate. Signed a contract? Celebrate. Avoided Facebook for a full hour? CELEBRATE! Give yourself a high-five once in a while. Pat yourself on the back. After all, meeting goals gives your body a shot of dopamine (the “feel good” chemical). So, follow your body’s lead and celebrate each victory.
3. Keep some warm fuzzies: I have a file folder that is full of warm fuzzies. Emails from readers and reviews that made my day. Hand colored pictures from my kids and encouraging notes from friends. They remind me why I choose this writing life and how exciting it is, even if in a quiet way. They spur me on.
4. Remember that this is a gift: We get to write! This is the dream! What we’ve always wanted. When we remember that, we tend to fall in love with it all over again.
You know, there’s something nice about the familiar. There is something sweet about developing our talents daily.
As for me, I’ll leave the red carpet and flashing lights for someone else. I’ll take this gentle writing life any old day.
Susie Finkbeiner is a story junkie. Always has been and always will be. It seems it's a congenital condition, one she's quite fond of. After decades of reading everything she could get her hands on (except for See the Eel, a book assigned to her while in first grade, a book she declared was unfit for her book-snob eyes), Susie realized that she wanted to write stories of her own. She began with epics about horses and kittens (but never, ever eels). It takes years to grow a writer and after decades of work, Susie realized (with much gnashing of teeth and tears) that she was a novelist. In order to learn how to write novels, she read eclectically and adventurously (she may never swim with sharks, but the lady will jump into nearly any story). After reading the work of Lisa Samson, Patti Hill, and Bonnie Grove she realized that there was room for a writer like her in Christian fiction. Her first novels Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother's Chamomile (2014) have contemporary settings. While she loved those stories and especially the characters, Susie felt the pull toward historical fiction. When she read Into the Free by Julie Cantrell she knew she wanted to write historical stories with a side of spunk, grit, and vulnerability. Susie is also greatly inspired by the work of Jocelyn Green, Rachel McMillan, and Tracy Groot. A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (2015), Finkbeiner's bestselling historical set in 1930s Oklahoma, has been compared to the work of John Steinbeck and Harper Lee (which flatters Susie's socks off). Pearl's story continues with A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression (2017) and A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (2018). What does she have planned after that? More stories, of course. She's a junkie. She couldn't quit if she wanted to.