I found the following in an old journal, written during a trip to Fort Robinson, Nebraska. It reminded me of why I love writing. Just a few words – but ones that captured my thoughts and feelings.
The birds are always singing. As I gaze out at the bluffs, I can imagine how this rolling pine hill country must have looked a century ago. Today, Elms line Officer’s Row, but in the time of Crazy Horse it was Cottonwoods that provided the cool shade. Now, the leaves seem to have a reflective surface, catching the look of the wind. Not far down the road is the Old Red Cloud Agency where I wanted to walk to see a sky that was blacker than black.
I lost myself in the streaming band of the Milky Way, starting far in the south, flowing through Sagittarius then flinging itself across the broad expanse of the sky as if a stargazer waved her hand and magic poured from her fingertips. Staying in place, perfectly, since the night she placed it there. Like the Indians who once walked this ground, I found myself creating my own constellations and legends – as would anyone who had access to this sky. This perfect sky on this perfect night.
The majority of the magazine articles and web content I used to write weren’t about topics I love. In fact, most were on topics that I had no hand in choosing. As a fulltime freelance writer, this was my business model and it worked just fine.
But now, 29 books and countless articles later, I’m at a place in my life – and my business – that I’m being challenged to take a hard look at the work I produce. Do I want to wrap up my career writing what I’ve always written? Or do I want to go out on a very skinny limb and try something totally new? I opt for the latter.
Starting September 2 (coincidentally, my birthday) I’m jumping feet-first into a novella that’s been whirling around my mind for a couple of years. My goal is to tweet my progress daily, so please hold my feet to the fire on this one. Be looking for #nancywritesanovella. I’m @nhendrickson1 over on Twitter.
But returning to the question of writing what we love. I can honestly say that when I wrote magazine articles for which I had a passion, they were some of the best work I ever produced. However, I have no idea if I’ll love writing fiction. Honestly, I could reach September 7 or 8, and say “this is for the birds”.
In case you missed it, Tom Hanks’ app – the HanxWriter – topped the iTunes charts last week. What does it do? It emulates the look and sound of a typewriter. It even chimes when you reach the end of a line. Fortunately, unlike a real typewriter, it also features a delete key.
The app is free, with in-app purchases ranging from $2.99 to $4.99. The purchases will get you another 2 models (the Hanx 707 and the Hanx Golden Touch) along with a different font style.
If you’re of a generation that misses the clickety-clack of typewriter keys, you’ll love this app. I do, but (alas) I only gave it a 3-star rating in the app store. That’s because it only allows saving in a PDF format. . . . keep reading
I’ve had a few emails from newsletter readers about writing and perfectionism. Like most writers, I’ve spent more time than I’d like to confess worrying over a single sentence. The truth is, perfection is an illusion. As writers we can only write as perfectly as we can in the moment. Two years from now you’ll […]
Tickle my brain . . . sounds great for inspiring new ideas, but how? read a new genre (vampire romance) ask my waitress about her favorite eatery try a new ice cream flavor (whiskey prune?) reverse my walking route take a nap (zzzzzz) stay up all night write flash non-fiction (500 words or less) read […]
Bird by Bird author Anne Lamott said it best: Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head. Need a creative […]
Writing a book isn’t a linear process. You come up with an idea, you think about it, you change it, it changes you, you think some more, you write, you rewrite, you rethink, you write some more. If your book isn’t coming together as quickly as you’d hoped, it’s possible you haven’t set it free […]