Authentically Living Living Authentically

On James Frey, many notable authors have you covered. It seems that these writers may well be correct. There should be a business component to a writer’s education. We have some of this in genre fiction as well. Desperation or desire to publish will get writers to take less than stellar deals, rather than having their work not shown to the world. No preaching here. A writer has to decide what publishing is worth to them. That said, be careful out there. Use sites like Predators and Editors, one of the many sites to help you avoid stepping into steaming piles of James Frey since 1997.

That’s not what I’m talking about today.

It is difficult sometimes to remember why I started writing. The whole of it gets swallowed up in goals and deadlines, things that don’t work, revision, kind of the crafty bits. I know there’s not enough here to hold me. Believe me, I don’t need another thing to wear myself out on.

And yet, I am still here. What’s that about?

At its core, writing makes me happy. I would like to publish my writing, but only as a logical conclusion to telling a story. When I write every day, I feel…less cramped inside. I am frustrated on days when I can’t get to it for whatever reason. I enjoy the machinations of plotting and outlining. While no writer likes hitting a wall, I love puzzling my way through one. I enjoy revisiting a story, even after a round of rejections, re-framing, re-imagining, and revising again.

It mystifies me that I forget this. It surprises me that I get so wrapped up in production and goals that I forget to practice my art authentically. I play small psychological games. I am guilty on days that I don’t write, or when I don’t meet this goal or that one, or angry at myself when I think I should have done more. Like with so many areas of life, achievement is my way of measuring worth. I’m getting better, but it’s a huge struggle, and there’s a lot of backsliding.

If I’m writing at a steady pace, I am at peace with myself. If I remember that quality takes time, I can be happy as long as I am moving toward the best story I can tell. I can live authentically and write authentically.

It’s hard stepping back from the mental rubbish, but I know I owe it to my future readers, my future characters, and myself to try. Every word I write makes me better. There is no race with myself. I’ll be writing anyway. And everyone knows I’m serious about it.

Of course I know this. It’s worth reminding myself that I know this. The quantity of my output isn’t my worth. It’s finding the joy in my art every day that is. I’m doing it for me. If I’m lucky, I’m doing it for you too. But mostly, I’m doing this for me.

So. Instead of getting my head back in the game, I guess I’ll say I’m getting my soul back in the game.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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