More months than I would have hoped for have passed since my last blog post. It’s not as if I haven’t been writing. I have. For hours on end. At this time in my life, the work I do on my novels bears more importance because ultimately, I want to leave something behind on this earth. Something beautiful. Whether it be through published works, photographs, or by inspiring the children I encounter on a daily basis, this is where my main focus remains. Still, I enjoy blogging, so I am jumping back in with hopes that I can resume a more regular routine. Thank you for bearing with me.
I recently returned from a three-day stay at The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas. This inspiring place of sanctity is run by author Bethany Hegedus, who couldn’t be more kind, welcoming, or talented. The Writing Barn is just as welcoming with its endless shelves of books, calming figurines, and the artwork of E. B. Lewis, all of which greets you when you walk through the front door. Before you even unpack your bags, you know you won’t want to leave. You want to breathe everything in, read the array of fabulous novels, books on writing, all there for visitors to enjoy. You want to sit outside and watch hawks soar above the grounds, traipse past cactus plants in search of a bunny you spot on the drive in. And the baby deer romping through the thicket, you want to enjoy their presence.
You unpack your bag and get to work, because that is why you are here. To learn. To grow. To absorb the energy that exists in this beautiful place. To look deep into your current WIP and be truthful about what needs to change. Because in order to grow, one must change, even in the way we approach our writing.
I was fortunate to have a dear writer friend with me. Both Nanci Turner Steveson and I had important revisions to tackle. We read each other’s manuscripts ahead of time. We took vows to be honest, painfully honest about what didn’t work, while emphasizing the positive qualities. I struggle with preferring to know where I’ve fallen short in my writing, probably because I thrive on revision. It makes me feel alive and brings out the best in me. I ask my wonderful agent to hold nothing back in terms of questions or asking me to delve deeper. The more intense a revision, the more I grow as both a person and a writer.
My stay at The Writing Barn did wonders for my soul. It could have been the colorful lanterns that swing in the trees, the sound of Nanci tapping on her laptop with her headphones on, or the moments of clarity that would happen after taking a photography break outside. There is a sense of peace here, and the best writing juju. While not quite tangible, you feel the wisdom left behind by previous writers, many of them published authors. In the porch beyond the kitchen, the wooden beams hold the signatures of published illustrators/writers. Every now and then I’d look above me, knowing that I, too, would sign a beam one day.
We have to believe in our writing, even when we close ourselves around our work, protecting it. Do not be afraid to do this. Think of your work as precious, like a baby fawn not ready to be on its own. For the most part, all else is beyond your control. The only thing that matters is that you do the work. Day in and day out, to the best of my ability. My father always told me to protect the energy surrounding a story, to keep it safe, until it was strong enough to send out into the world.
So that’s what I’ve been doing since I returned from The Writing Barn. Revising, revising, revising. Writing, writing, writing. Aside from that, I am living life, always thankful for the people I hold closest to my heart, thankful for the wonderful books I read each night before falling asleep, and thankful that places like The Writing Barn exist.
My deepest gratitude to Bethany Hegedus, who believed in creating this barn of wonder and inspiration and much beauty. Thank you for sharing your joy of writing with others.