Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This Little Light of Mine...

Hide it under a bushel Oh no! I'm going to let it shine, let it Shine, all the time, let it shine, oh yeah! -- Harry Dixon Loes

Revelations. I love them. I had one this morning, thanks to The Boss, Bruce Springsteen...

Bruce Springsteen
Okay, so he's got nothing to do with this post, but I like him. So there.

On my way to work this morning, I got all caught up with Springsteen's Live From Dublin CD, particularly with his version of This Little Light of Mine. Yes, you know the song, the one you've known since you were a kid.

Well, this morning, the lyrics hit me. Restored me, if you will. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine! And I decided. I AM going to let my little light shine. It's a good light, and I'm tired of hiding it under a bushel.

The light? My writing, my writing process, my speed of writing, my...well, everything.

All along I've kind of whined about feeling inadequate in the shadows of other authors who I feel are far superior to me. Over time, I've finally embraced the fact that they are not necessarily superior (okay, yes, some of them are), they are just different.

I strive to remain humble. And why shouldn't I? I've no reason, really, to be proud to the point of being arrogant. But, on the same token, I think an author SHOULD have a certain degree of pride in what they do. After all, Mark Twain said, There's a breed of humility which is itself a species of showing off. - "The Esquimau Maiden's Romance" Yes, there's a difference between a false modesty when you SHOULD indeed be proud and just...being proud of your work.

I'm learning to appreciate my talent. It IS a talent, a gift, and I suppose it would be ungrateful to dishonor it by not acknowledging it. I've a long way to go, but---hey---I'm not so bad.

One thing about me, though. Me, the author. I am slow. Slow, slow, slow. I'm a pair of legs trudging uphill against a mighty tide of mud. Slow. S-l-o-w. I don't apologize for that. It's just the way it is. It's not laziness, it's just hard for me to write when my mind is tired, when my word reserves are simply empty.

An author friend of mine, in her effort to urge me on, challenged me to try to write at least fifty words a day, no matter what. Just fifty.

I loved the freedom that gave me, to do something.  I found it usually turned into more words than the proposed fifty. I loved that. I even posted my progress---if I had any---every day on my Facebook. Sometimes it was just those fifty words, sometimes more. But, hell, I took great pride in even those few words. Because they came hard for me. Do NOT get me wrong. They may have squeezed through like the Goodyear Blimp pushing through the Holland Tunnel, but the were GOOD words. Quality words.

Well, someone teased me about my teeny goal. Mocked it, if you will. Insinuated, I think, it was a bit lazy of me.

I began to doubt myself. Okay, author lady, all these other people can write faster. So...could it just be that you ARE lazy? That you need to get off your writer ass and work harder? Words, words, more words!

I subconsciously begin to feel inadequate up next those who could write faster. Not better, but faster. I stressed. Big time. Here came those inadequate feelings again.

Somehow, I fell into an almost fatal trap: the trap of measuring my writing worth on how fast I could write, on wordage. I realized I was confusing the term wordage with WORDS.

And I saw that little light. It is...the words. Not how many, not how fast, not how few...but...simply...words. The right words, the words to tell my story. One word, two words, a billion words. As long as they tell my tale and tell it right and beautiful, there are enough of them and they are fast enough.

It's not the speed of my telling of the story that makes it or breaks it, it is nothing but the words themselves. No matter how they make it to the page.

So, to my friend who offered me the challenge, who KNEW this when I didn't know it, thank you for prompting me to those fifty precious words a day.

I feel all right now. I'll never, never, never complain again about how slow I am. I will never look at my poky, painful writing process as a fault. It is not. It's exactly as it should be. The product is what matters. And, by golly, I'm getting there as an author, I'm a little proud of what I've accomplished.

And I'm going to let my little light shine. Every day. Every damn day.

Oh, and, hey. You've just GOT to listen to The Boss' version of This Little Light of Mine. It'll make you feel awfully good.


Julie Lynn Hayes said...

Vastine, don't let anyone make you feel any less than you are, which is wonderful. It's not the quantity of words you produce, it's the quality. There are some damn prolific purveyors of shit in this world. You, my friend, are not one of those.

Your words are worth waiting for.

Have a great day, lady!

Vastine Bondurant said...

Hey, Julie.

Oh, hon, it's not other people, it's ME. Someone kidded me about my goal, my fifty words, and I immediately (as I always do) took it to mean it was a bad method.

I have to trust myself, my own methods more.

Thank you, my friend, and HUGS

Dorien/Roger said...

A winning combination of good insight and solid advice. Congratulations!

Grace R. Duncan said...

I have struggled long and hard against comparing myself to other authors. I always come up short. It wasn't word count for me or even speed because I've been able to spit the stuff out and I feel very lucky in that way. For me, it was quality. I would look at other authors and think, "What the hell am I thinking? I don't belong here..." I went through that recently when my Christmas anthology submission was rejected. Shortly thereafter, I was digging through the DSP site for the pirate stuff and let myself get seriously intimidated, yet again thinking the same thing - that I didn't have any right to count myself an author among so many wonderful ones. But then someone reminded me that DSP thought I belonged there and that helped - a LOT.

This post is wonderful, because it reminds me that I do have a story to tell and the talent - nay, gift - to tell it and I should do so.

So, thank you. :)

Kage Alan said...

Lovely post! Like you, I went through a similar phase of feeling like I wasn't up to snuff with other authors. I'm not able to write as much as they do or increase my output at this time. However, while we're all in the same genre, we don't write the same things. That leaves room for us all of us to excel.

It just took me a while to realize it.

Pat Brown said...

Fast or slow, always remember you are a member of a pretty rare group -- the oldest profession in the world. Screw prostitution, storytellers have defined and guided civilization through the millennial.

Jaime Samms said...

everyone has already said it, Vast. All I have to do is agree with them. Use the process that works for you, and don't listen to anyone else. Let them do what works for them :)

And I'm with everyone else on the comparing and finding myself wanting. I think we all have those moments.

Anonymous said...

Damn good advice that! Everyone works in their own wonderful, unique and peculiar way, but sometimes it just takes a while to find out what yours is. :) So glad you found yours.

Lloyd Meeker said...

Let it shine! If the light is unique, then so is the way it comes out, especially in print. One thing sure, that inner critic of yours needs a time out.

I like Pat's advice: screw prostitution -- our profession is older. But probably by only a few hours. Maybe I should try writing on my back...

I forget how many years it took Virgil to write the Aeneid, but if I remember correctly it works out to about 11 lines a day. You're in good company!

Vastine Bondurant said...

Thank you, Dorien, my friend.

Vastine Bondurant said...

Grace, thank you so much, and your words touched me. You know how it feels and you DID it, passed it!

Vastine Bondurant said...

Hey, Kage.
It DOES take a while for that to sink in, doesn't it?

And it's so nice when it finally does.

Vastine Bondurant said...

Well said, Pat, well said!

Vastine Bondurant said...

Hey, Jaime.
Yep, we all face it, and it DOES take telling ourselves to let them do it, and that it might just not be the same for us.

Vastine Bondurant said...

Hello, Elin!
Boy, it sometimes does take a while, but it's good when we finally do know what our place is.

Thank you!

Vastine Bondurant said...

Oh, Lloyd, you made my day!
Wow...Not that is in excellent company. Thank you!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm sorry I'm late. I feel like I missed an important and special day when I see your newest post on my blogroll. Why? Because you inspire me in how you see yourself and the world. I always come away feeling better. Sometimes I cry, but I still feel more alive than I did when I dropped in.

Carol, thanks for sharing your gift. Shine on!

ps. I was just talking about Mr. Springsteen to my readers! Great minds think alike.