I didn’t always know these things. I discovered them like fossils.
Some are elements of craft:
I now know that every protagonist needs a secret that will eventually be discovered or confessed. That secret should evoke deep feelings in her, such as shame, guilt, and the like.
Some are about publishing:
I now know what an imprint is. I now know how to write a query letter and a log line.
And some are about me as writer:
I now know that I cannot write a synopsis by myself. I’m terrible. I need someone else to slash away at it for me. Left to my own devices, my synopses are thirty pages long.
I now know that flowcharting my story arcs helps me with pacing.
I now know that I am “a Creative.”
This may seem obvious, but it wasn’t to me. Creatives are artsy people who keep mementos on their end tables and scarves over their lamps. They are free thinkers who disdain establishment and order. I’m not that. I like bright lights, clean surfaces, and schedules. I live by my to-do list. I keep three to-do lists, if I’m honest. Each item is labeled with the part of the day, sometimes the hour, that it will be handled.
Okay, yes, I sometimes paint and do pastels. But I do it because it’s cheaper than buying art. I’ve given paintings as hostess and birthday gifts. My art performs a function.
Okay, yes, I sometimes sew. I tailor my clothes to make them fit the way I like. I invented a sewing project called “Puffy Cuffs” made of terry cloth and elastic that I decorated with ribbon that are worn around the wrists. I made headbands to match. I invented them because I didn’t like the sensation of water running down my arms when I washed my face. At my friends’ requests and with my extra materials, I made several more sets and gave them as gifts. Function, double down.
But, here’s the truth, I don’t actually enjoy painting or sewing. I’m not happy until my projects are successfully finished.
That’s where writing is different. I love writing. Every step and stage of it. A good writing day is as good as great sex. Both make me euphoric.
So why lately have I been feeling more forelorn than euphoric? I’ve been writing. A lot. It’s practically all I’ve been doing.
Because I’m a Creative.
Creativity needs to flow. When it isn’t allowed to, it becomes a hard thing inside us. It dampens happiness, makes us slow.
I may be a Type A Creative – my family is nodding – which is why I don’t feel joyful or relaxed when I paint or sew until I see that they were fruitful endeavors, but they are creative pursuits, functional or not. Not engaging in these things lately, focusing so fully on writing and writing only, it cost me.
I’ve missed that triumphant feeling when I stare with pride at my projects, when I take photos to send my friends, sisters, and my mom.
I have a writer friend who gardens. I have another who knits. I’ve always questioned how they have time. I now know.
Time for other creative pursuits is a necessity for a writer.
What are yours?
MM Finck is a writer, essayist, and book reviewer. She oversees WWWB’s Interviews and Agents’ Corner segments. Her women’s fiction is represented by Katie Shea Boutillier of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the contest chair for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association 2016 Rising Star writing contest for unpublished authors. Her work has appeared in national and regional publications, including skirt! magazine. When she isn’t editing her novel, #LOVEIN140, you can find her belting out Broadway tunes (off key and with the wrong words), cheering herself hoarse over a soccer match (USWNT! – 2015 WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS!!!!), learning to play piano (truly pitifully), building or fixing household things, and trying to squeeze more than twenty-four hours out of every day. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Li.st (@MMFinck), and Litsy (@MMF). http://www.mmfinck.com