Monday, November 18, 2013

Think Big. (I Will Not Be Gollum Anymore).

Gollum, from "Lord of the Rings"
The Gollums of the writing world say:
Don't share your idea. They'll take it.

His writing isn't all that great and he got published. Why can't I?

Don't give these good pieces to those small publications. Save them for the nationals.

Don't give away your valuable writing for free.
At home, Gollum says:
You know this is the only night I have for my writing, and now you want me to go out with your co-workers. Do you really think your work is more important than mine? And no, I don't want to play a game, talk or watch TV. I'm writing.

My writing.
My writing time.
My Preciousss. (I had to)

Now, there's nothing wrong with a healthy dose of reality. As writers, of course we want to be fairly compensated, respect writing schedules, etc. But when writing is fixated on us - to make us feel good, to make us money, to get us published - that's Gollum slithering in.

So what's the solution?

Shift Focus

When I returned from Austria, I was determined to help immigrants learn English so they could improve their situation (stick with me here).My focus wasn't on getting a job, making money, or getting a new career. I cared about those people, especially after my experience as an expat. So, I started volunteering with Literacy Volunteers once per week, teaching ESL to four students. Within a year, that class had grown to 20+ drop-in students in the local Spanish community. I was approached and asked to teach ESL classes at four organizations, along with leading workshops for other ESL tutors. All of this came to me, as if I were a magnet. I've heard writers tell similar stories about their writing. So why hasn't it happened to me? Or, perhaps, you?

Think Big

In comparison to ESL, my writing efforts have felt more like a one-woman crusade for publication, versus a need to help or share with others. One small example:  I've withheld many posts from my parenting blog and local publications to "save" them for the nationals. Now, there's nothing wrong with dreaming big. But if we're going to dream big, we should think big, too. There are an infinite number of ideas out there, and I have the ability to write a multitude of articles. Why "protect" those? I kept articles with valuable information to myself so that I could add a credit to my resume, and make more money. Which would be reasonable, if I'd even attempted to revise and submit those articles. But they're still sitting in a folder on my computer. Going on four years.

Share The Writing Life

When my husband initially asked me to meet up with his co-workers on my planned writing night, my first reaction WAS to get angry. He wanted me to sacrifice my work for his. But then I realized:  he's not out to "get" my writing time, he simply wants company. And why can't I woman up and take the chance at sharing what I'm doing with his co-workers, just as they'll share stories about work with me? Why should writing have to be an unspoken solitary process done alone at home?  Isn't that what got Gollum into trouble to begin with?

It's time to stop being such a Gollum. Already I feel a shift in the possibilities. How about you?


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