By Julie Seedorf
I read an article by Stephanie Ostroff on the blog, The Writers Circle, on strange writing rituals of five famous authors. She highlighted the rituals of Maya Angelou, James Joyce, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway and Joan Didion. As I read their rituals I decided maybe I should have a strange writing ritual, after all, they are famous authors and being a famous author might be a good goal for me. Perhaps I can become famous because I develop a strange writing ritual. I might not be famous for my work but for my writing ritual.
I get distracted easily. I do not have a writing ritual right now. I have been testing the waters because I need to be more prolific but I haven’t found the right formula yet for my writing. I love sitting at coffee houses and writing and sipping coffee. Isn’t that the picture many people have in their heads when they picture us writing? It is a peaceful picture. A writer–in a coffee-house–with their coffee. My problem is I don’t have a coffee-house within twenty miles of my home and it would cost me more pennies and dimes to drive to the coffee-house on a daily basis.
I love my library. I know I need to visit more and write and have coffee. They now have a coffee bar but my visiting would require half way decent dress and perhaps a little makeup and combing my hair. I plan on spending more time there in the future as soon as I get into the ritual of putting on a little makeup and combing my hair.
I love my little office but I get interrupted even with the door shut by my better half and my own shysters, Boris and Natasha. The shysters like to try opening doors and my better half likes talking to me. I do not have one ritual that feeds me and I am not sure what that will be, but I know I need one.
I have a dream of a cozy cottage by a lake and me sitting and looking out on the lake and writing away day by day. I think I could establish a writing ritual with that scenario but…I have no cottage and I have no lake close to my house and the vision is of my being alone in the house and cottage for a week or a month to finish my work of art. And the other downside to that scenario is money. You know the term “starving artist”, well that could be applied to authors too. Money is tight especially if you are like me and new into my new career of only a few years.
I made a decision to go for it and I am moving up and not regretting my decision but it takes grit to write and promote and still live with a husband and family without a ritual.
I don’t think I could pull an Ernest Hemingway and write standing up or waking at dawn. I do wake in the middle of the night and want to get up to write but then I remember that someone else expects me to get up in the morning and join him in conversation.
I find another road block to my writing rituals is confidence and frustration. It is hard work to write a book. Things have changed in the few years since I have signed with Cozy Cat Press. The proliferation of free books for Kindle and other e-readers is daunting and wasn’t there when I started. Some authors put their e-books on the market as free to attract attention and hopefully to get people to read their other books. These free books affect the bottom line for those of us that need the income from our books to keep writing. I have offered free books but found that as much as I wanted readers to like me, I didn’t see enough of a benefit to keep doing it and I didn’t like what it did to my self-worth as a writer.
I know many people who only download free books and only want free books. I belong to one book club on Facebook which only reads books from the library or free e-books. They don’t know what they are missing if they don’t look further and look at the many authors that are asking people to buy their books for $2.99. I read e-books because I couldn’t read as many books because of cost if I bought hard copies, but I do not mind paying 2.99 for the books to support the author. I do believe in offering my readers specials on my books. I have the first one in my Fuchsia Minnesota series that is .99 and will stay that way. I hope it entices people to continue the series. But I must admit it is hard and frustrating and puts a dent in my writing ritual when I know I am writing books that I might have to sell for .99. An author makes .20 of each of those books. I am not complaining, just stating a fact. I love my readers and want them to experience Granny and Jezabelle. I also like to get to know my readers and I want to encourage others to buy my friends books for regular e-book price.
Each morning when I wake up I try to do something positive that will stimulate my creativity so I can write. Don’t get me wrong–I love spinning a tale and writing. I write because I love to write and want to carry my readers away to a day of fun and fantasy. I will always feels that way. It isn’t about the money. But when someone says something good about my writing and that it has made them laugh, I feel valued. I try to hold on to that as I see the free books scrolling past my feed in my Facebook page. So I will continue to try to find my ritual that will feed my soul, spark my imagination and immerse me in words.
And maybe–just maybe–I already have it and don’t know it. I can sit and write anywhere, and I do when I am not thinking about having to find the time to write or having to sit down in a certain place to write. Maybe my ritual is a spur of the moment action wherever my life is at the moment. Spring is coming. My swimming pool– perfect ritual to lounge, drink wine and write on a mattress in the middle of the pool. Oh wait–I don’t have a swimming pool.