TURNING TO OTHER WRITERS IN TIMES OF TROUBLE

by Linda Rodriguez
Like
most writers, periodically, I struggle with my work. Often it’s
because of physical health problems. Often, it’s because of family
issues. Sometimes it’s because of the world around me.

Right now,
that world around us all is stressful, troubling, and even
frightening. In these times of difficulty, I turn to the wisdom of
other writers, and so today, I offer to all of us a collection of
things that writers who came before us have said about this
profession we all share.


A
house uncleaned is better than a life unlived.” – Rebecca West

Exercise
the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a
title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like
dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”
– Jane Yolen

Write
all the time. Rework what you write. Hack it to pieces, cut and
change. Writing is a self-conducted apprenticeship.” – Martha
Gellhorn

Don’t
try to impress or show off. Just tell the story. Tell what happened
as you would to a friend.” – Maeve Binchy

Every
new book is a challenge and requires different problem-solving for
the characters.” – Phyllis A. Whitney

Discipline
is simply remembering what you want.” – Judith Claire Mitchell

“I
don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid
you won’t be good at it.” – Anne Lamott


“If
I quit now I will soon go back to where I started. And when I
started, I was desperate to get to where I am now.” – Flannery
O’Connor

You
may as well write what you want because there’s no predicting what
will sell.” – Judith Guest

Fiction
writing is a kind of magic, and I don’t care to talk about a novel
I’m doing because if I communicate the magic spell, even in an
abbreviated form, it loses its force for me. And so many people have
talked out to me books they would otherwise have written. Once you
have talked, the act of communication has been made.” –- Angus
Wilson

“A
word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood

The
most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters
except sitting down every day and trying. … This is the other
secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we
sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us.”
– Steven Pressfield


It’s
the writing that teaches you.” – Isaac Asimov

There
are no rules except those you create page by page.” –Stuart Wood

“I
take writing terribly seriously, and sometimes that just gets in my
way. Writing is about the Shadow, which is about play. I just have to
learn that again. And, in my own life, it’s like I can’t learn
that I’ll rise to the occasion. I do rise to the occasion, but I’m
never sure that’s going to happen.” – Sue
Grafton

Linda Rodriguez’s Plotting the
Character-Driven Novel,
based on her popular workshop, and The
World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East
,
an anthology she co-edited, are her newest books. Dark Sister:
Poems
will be published in February, 2018. Every Family Doubt,
her fourth mystery novel featuring Cherokee campus police chief,
Skeet Bannion, will appear in August, 2018, and Revising the
Character-Driven Novel
will be published in November, 2018. Her
three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every
Broken Trust
, and Every Last Secret—and
her books of poetry—Skin Hunger
and Heart’s Migration—have
received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin’s
Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International
Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices
& Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and
Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good
Neighbor,” published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has
been optioned for film.

Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP
Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter
of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers
Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International
Thriller Writers, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and
Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at
http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com
11 replies
  1. Judy Penz Sheluk, author
    Judy Penz Sheluk, author says:

    I LOVE this! My favorite: "If I quit now I will soon go back to where I started. And when I started, I was desperate to get to where I am now." – Flannery O'Connor

    Brilliant!

    Reply
  2. Margaret S. Hamilton
    Margaret S. Hamilton says:

    great collection of quotes. I'm going to copy all of them in my "write it down so I don't forget it" notebook. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is always next to my laptop.

    Reply
    • Linda Rodriguez
      Linda Rodriguez says:

      Margaret, I've been collecting them for years. They're my mentors I turn to in time of trouble and they advise, admonish, and encourage me.

      Reply

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