Author, Speaker, Advocate, and Entrepreneur

Author, Speaker, Advocate, and Entrepreneur
Valerie Anne Burns

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A Writer's Life

A Writer's Life

Coffe spot where I drafted most of my book

As I’ve muddled my way through and, at times, flowed through my writing life, it’s obvious that I’m on a roller coaster. Rejection, rejection, rejection, acceptance, rejection, rejection, rejection, acceptance, acceptance and back to rejection. Like working in Hollywood, you find a way to grow a crocodile layer of hearty skin or the precious artist in you disintegrates. Unless you hit it like a lottery and success comes all at once, you begin to wear out, a weariness sets in. It has for me anyhow. You step back and dive deep into the water to reflect and when you resurface, you are hopefully rejuvenated to create once again.

I keep plugging away and busy all the time. As a writer, it’s not unlike a shark, you must keep moving to keep it alive. Writing, editing, and submitting. Rinse, repeat.

I’m grateful for the success I’ve had as the emerging writer that I am. There’s still so much to learn and there are countless times when I’m struck by just how much, I don’t know. Example: Tackling an application for artist residencies, writing a compelling synopsis, an eye-catching statement of purpose, etc. It expands and changes and grows. And I must do the same to keep up.

I love writing but I am capable of drifting to disheartenment. Writing in memoir genre means you are expressing in a raw and honest way. It’s cathartic and it’s frightening to expose oneself. It can also feel satisfying. Roller coaster. The best is to be in the zone where all track of time is lost, and the writing is flowing like a strong river. Right now, not so much.

In my experience, I find it best to write in ritual as much as possible. Beginning in the morning after tea and staring out the picture window to the early morning light and the hummingbirds buzzing around the feeder, and if I don’t have appointments, I open the laptop and start writing. Sometimes I continue to stare out the window as I think where to start. Editing is such a big part of it and that means struggling over one word or a one sentence.

I am on my own and writing is a solo endeavor. Loneliness is a part of life and has been for some time. It’s good to be in writing groups with writer friends and colleagues. It is a reliable source for support and a place to commiserate, enhance skills, and to gain resources. There are times I must get away from it altogether and that happens by getting in bed at night with Stephen Colbert or cute animal videos. It’s also good to get together with friends for coffee, a concert, or the ballet and most of all... international travel, which has a way of dropping inspiration into my lap.

When I write poetry or journal my travels, I handwrite everything. I need to work out a poem in writing which I edit with cross-outs and out of margin changes. I don’t travel with a laptop and enjoy writing about my day in all its descriptive colors and adventures when I’m back in my room recalling the day's events. No one would ever figure out what I'm writing when drafting a poem even if read sideways.

I know that a good deal of writers would share my sentiment (complaint) on how challenging it is to sit for hours and hours. It is for me and my neck, back… my entire body. I get up, do a power walk, stretch, Qigong practice, pick up the mail, errands, or walk the kitty for breaks. I don’t have the luxury of a desk, so I have a lap table that just fits my laptop. We make do. For a change of scenery, a coffee shop is the best way to go. It’s part of a writer’s life. So is coffee.

The number of distractions can not only be staggering but a constant challenge. Chores, walking my cat who’s on a schedule like a doggie, regular Dr appointments, daydreaming, worrying and horrified by the degrading and shame in this country whether it be the traitors, democracy at serious risk, self-righteous gun lovers who worship the NRA over protection of children and all citizens of this declining country, and so on. Across the ocean in Eastern Europe is a brutalized Ukraine struggling to hold on. The world is upside down and too much is heartbreaking, as well as infuriating.

My biggest daydream is becoming an expat in Europe. I’ll pass on my activist torch and fly far, far away over the sea to Italy, Portugal… whoever will take me in some miraculous way on my modest income. I am staying strong in my conviction that I’d be best suited living out the rest of my reinvented writer life in Europe. I’ll stroll the cobblestone streets, sit at outdoor cafes with a laptop or journal wearing big Jackie O sunglasses and a teal-colored pashmina if it’s a cool day, where I’ll write my heart out over an espresso or glass of prosecco.      

Keep on swimming through life,

Valerie Anne