A-Z Blog Challenge:L
Post by Guest Blogger Pam Swanwick
A related question is, do you have to suffer to be a good writer? Much great literature has arisen from tortured artists. “I am a great artist and I know it. The reason I am great is because of all the suffering I have done,” said Paul Gauguin. Of a Top 10 Tortured Artists list of authors, musicians, and artists, 60% are authors. Famous tortured writers include Hunter S. Thompson, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and of course, Earnest Hemingway.
But then, we don’t hear much about other authors who produced great art without great pain. Charles Dickens experienced his own dark beginnings which informed his writing, but there is scant evidence that he suffered for his art. Isaac Asimov, one of the most influential science fiction authors, wrote or edited over 500 books and, based on his multiple autobiographies, loved every minute of it. Even Stephen King announced that he was retiring and then found he couldn’t stop. In On Writing he said that it’s more painful not to write (paraphrased). Maya Angelou said “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.”
But how can you possibly love all the complicated aspects of your life in order to free your passion for writing? There is no simple answer, and the answer likely differs for every individual. My solution has been to rethink my life, from top to bottom, and “reframe” my thoughts and actions into a perspective that supports my love of life and writing. Here’s my secret:
Don’t do anything if you don’t love it.
• If you must do it, find a way to put it into a positive framework.
• If it is not essential to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, make the decision to change it.
Here’s how I have reframed my life:
• I never go to the gym to “work out.” Some people enjoy gyms, but I don’t. Instead, I’ve invested the time to find activities that I can love and practice for a lifetime. For me, that’s yoga, capoiera, and swing dancing.
• I’ve stopped reading so many pulp novels (which I very much enjoy) and watching so much TV. The satisfaction I get from meeting my (self-imposed) writing deadlines is so much more satisfying than the temporary escape I get from Gray’s Anatomy or John Grishham.
• I gave up a management position that inflated my ego and my bank balance. Instead, I took a technical writing job that gives me more time and energy to write.
• I’ve stopped hating the necessity of creating a platform for my work. Instead, I’m trying to embrace social media as an opportunity to stretch my writing range, communication skills, and technical expertise.
How can you love your life more? How can you wring more passion and productivity from it, which you can then channel into your own writing?
Pam Swanwick’s mission is to find fiction that feeds the spirit, review the best novels, and share them with others at http://pjswanwick.wordpress.com/ and FictionForaNewAge.com (coming soon).