Had a great time attending the Denise Little workshop on the Oregon coast this past weekend. Since Kris and Dean hadn’t done any workshops in several years, it was like a reunion for many of us, though I met plenty of new folks, too. Among those in attendance were Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Phaedra Weldon, Steve Mohan Jr., Ken Scholes, Adrian Phoenix, Peter Orullian, Loren Coleman . . . the list goes on an on. A very talented bunch.
That’s one of the reasons I like Kris and Dean’s workshops so much. It’s not just the teachers (who are fabulous). It’s the students. There’s nothing better than being surrounded by a lot of writers who treat the craft as seriously as you do. Believe me, that’s a rare thing. The focus was on writing for anthologies, and I certainly learned a lot about that, but I also got a reminder on a very important lesson — one that I needed right now.
Everybody’s got excuses not to write. Everybody’s got excuses not to meet a deadline — whether it’s in a workshop or in real life. But no matter how good your excuse is, there’s always another writer who’s got a better one, and they met their deadline. So when I hear myself trying to reach for an excuse, and I’ve certainly got plenty of good ones (a day job, two young children, etc.), I’m going to ask myself if I want to be one of those people who uses excuses as justification for not writing, or instead one of those people who does the work anyway and then uses those challenges as a bragging point. “Hey look,” you can say, “I was sick as a dog and my bank just called to say I’m bouncing checks, but I still wrote ten pages.”
That’s not say some excuses are good reasons to not write — there’s plenty of awful things I can imagine happening that would stop me from writing. It’s just that it’s always my choice whether I allow them to stop me or not.
On another note: go check out The First Book blog. Up today, Kelly Simmons and her book, Standing Still. A snippet: “I’ve never been one of those people who has to have a certain kind of pen, or notebook, or desk. If I’d waited to have all the right things I’d never have written a word.”