I just don't feel like doing it. It's too hard to get through to the end of a draft. I'm too tired at the end of the day. It's been a busy week and I worked late three days out of the last five. It was a rough week on the job. I've got too many other things to do. Writing will just have to wait.
Last week I had an unexpected few days off. Wow, what an opportunity to be productive, I thought. I can get some writing done! Where should I start? I was productive, just not in the way that I had hoped. Nothing got written.
Monday, I wrote to a friend. Monday I'll start, Butt-In-Chair as the old VCFA motto goes. I just have to show up and write. I'll get into a routine. I'll get started. I'll do it.
Every night this week, I did things here and there that inched me closer to writing. I uploaded to Google documents every WIP that I left unfinished when I was in school. This way, I'd never lose them again. (Earlier this month I thought my system wouldn't recover from a mammoth trojan that invaded my computer, and I thought everything I'd every written was gone. I didn't lose everything... just the last three years of emails.) I read and reread notes that I got from Margaret Bechard about my ghost story, and remembered where I wanted to go with it. I opened that story three nights in a row and revised words here and there. But when I came to that blank page at the end, all I could type was "Chapter Ten."
I struggle not so much with the story--I have a complete outline, a map, a timeline, everything in detail about what I need to do with this story--but more with the act of writing. I mentally defeat myself before I even start. I work in a pretty intense field, where I have to deal with some unpleasant subjects on a daily basis. My heart goes out to the children I work with. I want to heal them all and carry them to safety. I can't do that. I can only do my part. So when I compare that work with my writing, the writing seems trivial. I'm not likely to make an impact through my books, I think. So I don't even try.
But tonight on Facebook, I was given a gentle, lovely reminder. I can make an impact. Every author can make an impact in the life of a child. Every PERSON can make an impact in the life of a child. One child, or many children, and adults too. Look at this:
This little girl is reading. She lives in Ethiopia.
One of my VCFA advisors, Jane Kurtz, makes a difference with her books, every day. Her books and her efforts have had a positive impact on children around the world, particularly in Ethiopia. She is an active member and board member of Ethiopia Reads, a program which collects books for libraries in Ethiopia, Africa. Through this organization's efforts, Ethiopian children have the opportunity to learn and read and explore the world through stories.
Don't kids get to do that every day? Don't all schools have libraries? According to the NEA, fifty-six percent of youth say they read more than ten books a year.
Not in Ethiopia.
In Ethiopia, and other underdeveloped nations, books are rare. Reading for pleasure is not promoted. There are so many other, more basic necessities lacking that books are gifts, treasures, luxuries. The staff at Ethiopia Reads "believes that education is the key to improving the lives of the next generation of Ethiopians, a country filled with children, and that books are the key to fostering a genuine love of learning." Through the hard work of Jane Kurtz and many others, a new generation of Ethiopians is being fostered: a generation that loves learning, education, and books.
I love books.
I can make a difference by writing a book.
Just as my work with children in the foster care system is tough, so is writing a book. None of it easy. But the results can be phenomenal, if I work hard enough. I can help to find a child the right family, make sure that she's safe, or give her the adventure of a lifetime, that she'll read over and over again. I just have to work hard enough.
I'd better get writing. Chapter ten awaits.