Tuesday, April 3, 2012

30 Days, 30 Stories: Foil-Wrapped Chocolates and Writing

Foil-Wrapped Chocolates and Writing
by Rebecca Rice Birkin

I am a chocolate addict. My past candy-seeking behaviors include a month-long obsession over a particular kind of chocolate. Not a brand, but anything covered in sleek, shiny foil. Whether an egg or a bunny, there’s just something soothing about the quiet crackle, the smooth feel, of unwrapping each piece.

What does chocolate have to do with writing? Not much. One is sweet, easy, and something I may later regret. The other is rarely easy. The similarity is that I crave both.

Despite my compulsion to create stories, I occasionally want to bang my head against my computer screen, questioning why I continue.

In the midst of my last writing-crisis, I attended the Writing and Illustrating for Young Reader’s Conference. There, Sharlee Glenn encouraged us to write for the joy of it, quoting Madeline L’Engle: “I had to write. I had no choice in the matter. It was not up to me to say I would stop, because I could not.” I can relate.

Like L’Engle, I long to write, to create characters whose concrete needs resonate with real people. Similar to the satisfaction found in unwrapping bright foil-covered chocolates, I suspect writing is more meaningful because it’s isn’t easy.

Another WIFYR instructor, Martine Leavitt, taught us to own writing as our divine gift. She said that since God gave her the writing talent and drive, she was going to do something with that. Her words, along with Sharlee Glenn’s, encourage me to follow my college creative writing teacher’s advice to “keep at this business.”

But how? I have a chronically messy home, a child with a developmental disability, and lots of other excuses. I dream of a beach cottage, Gifts from the Sea style, and long blocks of uninterrupted writing time. It rarely happens. Martine’s answer? “It’s hard to write, and that never changes.” She suggested, “Do it every day, even for 10 minutes. Get up earlier. Do it first thing. Put aside your other hobbies for now. Writing wants your whole life. Take your work with you everywhere.”

I try to do this. When I can, I take my notebook computer with me. Other times, I’ve been caught texting plot notes to my own phone. Most of all, I’m giving myself permission to write. Writing is the one addiction I plan to encourage.

Rebecca Rice Birkin, JD, craves not only chocolate, writing, and beach time, but also books. She’s discovered housework is almost bearable if done while listening to a book on CD. She’s written for The New Era, Segullah and Meridian Magazines, and has won several writing awards.


Julie Daines said...

You've really hit the nail on the head with this post. It is hard to find the time for a good, quality writing session. I also took a WIFYR workshop from Martine Leavitt. She is amazing.

Mel said...

Superlike this post...

Scott said...

So, like, are you talking great Belgian chocolate, like, say, Dolfin, or Swiss like Lindt, or maybe Milka, or maybe some of the surprisingly great Irish chocolate I've had? And are you talking milk chocolate or dark or extra dark? Do like just chocolate, or do you prefer mix-ins like nuts or raisins or crispy bits or herbs or chiles?

Great. Now you have me thinking about chocolate. Sounds like a good reason to stop writing and go on a quest for good chocolate. Writing can wait, but chocolate cravings must be satisfied.

Jill Campbell said...

Great advice. Writing can be difficult. Procrastinating and eating chocolate are so much easier.

Melanie said...

I remember Sharlee Glenn talking about that and feeling very encouraged. If only writing was as easy as eating chocolate. But then we'd have to suffer the consequences instead of feeling of accomplishment you get when you know you have written something well.

Amy Hackworth said...

Great post, Becca. I love reading about the compulsion to write, and especially Martine's advice about just making time for it, even a little time. These are the things we learn at WIFYR and why we're so glad we go!

Alison said...

For me it was Kathleen Duey. I can't even remember what she said last year at WIFYR, but I remember thinking, "okay, I need to keep going, no matter how frustrating the publishing world can be. It's the writing that matters.

Bruce Luck said...

I get frustrated with my work at times, think its absolute garbage, and put it away. A week or two later, that story is still there trying to get out. Resistance is futile.