Steinbeck novel

I hadn’t re-organized my writing corner since last November’s earthquake tossed my books around like dust particles. We stacked them and they’ve sat all this time begging to be read or sorted. I dreaded the sorting, keep-toss-keep-toss. It’s the toss that hurts. I ignored it, did nothing.

A book fell off the stack. Journal of a Novel, by John Steinbeck, where he wrote an ongoing letter to his dear friend. I opened it. “I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line.” Then I read Steinbeck’s rant about self-doubt. Even the greats experience it. Stephen King has said he’s had it now and then.

After hitting writer burnout in February fueled by a mid-life crisis (minus the sports car), self-doubt with my writing reared an ugly head like a Kaiju in the movie, Pacific Rim. Then the self-flagellation, why didn’t I start this in my 20’s?

Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get your ass back in that chair! I told myself.

So I climbed back in the saddle. When I was sixteen back in Butte, our ex-rodeo horse taught me to fly. I smacked the ground staring up at circling birds, thinking, Screw this $h1t! My stepdad made me climb back on that horse. Didn’t want to, but glad I did. We get back in those saddles. We’ve all had to do it in one way or another.

Giving up is easy—the chicken-shit way out. It’s tempting to chuck this writing gig and play on social media, watch 7 seasons of GOT, hang out at Jitters and bug other writers, play with Puppy, or read what everyone else is writing, only to say, Hey I can write that!

Then I’m back to square one, like a frustrated rodent on a hamster wheel. My inner Yoda light-sabers my brain: There is no try, only do.  Behind him stands Obi-Wan: It’s heavy lifting time, butt-in-chair time. No distractions…these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.Yoda coach

Successful, accomplished authors are generous and gracious, helping us beginning novelists, lifting us, blowing air beneath our wings, like the song. How can I begin to thank them? How can I ever thank my family and friends, who’ve hung in there, celebrating each baby step accomplishment, listening to me whine about setbacks on emails and personal messages, as I’ve licked wounds to get these books out to the world?

How can I ever, ever thank you?

By not giving up. By helping other writers alongside me, working toward this same goal. Encouraging them and walking the talk, like I force my characters to do in my stories: “I’ve got this,” says Blaze. “I’ve got this,” says Rheann.

Thank you for every positive, encouraging word. It’s made all the difference.

It’s heavy-lifting time for this home stretch of rewrites. This beginner has learned so much, come so far, but still a ways to go. Digging in, butt in chair. My horse has always been the last one to leave the gate. But it will eventually cross that finish line.

See you on Amazon. I’ve got this.

Lips© Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster, 2019, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.      

Written by Lois Paige Simenson


  1. Ginny Rollman April 18, 2019 at 9:15 pm Reply

    I’d say you are in more good company than just John Steinbeck. He and Steven King have been brutally and publicly honest. Most others just share with besties or their pillows. REAL authors know that pain is one bookend–and the other is the euphoria of when, from time to time the words just pour out, and out and out! The rule must be that you can’t have one without the other.

    Okay, Girl, yes, butt in the chair. I am looking for a life sized Yoda for you. Imagine him with you until I find him. 🙂

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