‘And [he] shall never doubt, never fear, and never turn in the face of danger’ ~ from the Preamble to the Servants’ Second Indenture (the Nascir Ishcai-Nashim), Amnar: The Awakening
“People think I’m disciplined. It is not discipline, it is devotion. There is a difference.”
I have a confession to make. I’ve spent a week fussing over this, suddenly unable to write. It’s incredible that I can write three blog posts for my blog, but the moment I’m asked to write about tenacity for Alex, suddenly I get a big dose of writer’s block.
Generally, this would be a question of walking away for a bit, leaving it until the words fill my head again. Unfortunately, this is one of those times when it’s more difficult than usual to come up with the right words.
Now, I think I’m supposed to tell you all about how, once I’d done the whole anorexic thing, I managed to spend the next five years writing seventeen books. The truth is that it wasn’t so much about discipline, or nailing myself to the chair, but about love.
After I moved down here, back in 2004, I had to work full-time, finish my PhD full-time and write at the same time. Well, not literally at the same time. I somehow managed to do this for two years, and by the end of 2005, I had carpal tunnel syndrome and had finished nine of the original Amnar books. I recommend you don’t do that at home.
It all came down to something deeper than mere persistence, just discipline. I had – and still have – a devotion to the world I was pouring out onto the page. To the story, to the characters. I never put myself under pressure to write when I didn’t feel like it, but put in hours simply because it filled me with joy.
Now, for as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve had the dream of being a published author. Somehow, that got mangled up in my heart and soul with a lot of tension, and since a friend and I started the work of trying to get the book out there, I’ve had over a hundred rejections. I’ve also had personal letters back from editors saying they tried their hardest to get it through acquisitions panels, and one massive deal that collapsed in 2007.
You pick up ways of dealing with this – because it’s not like I can give up and do something else. Somebody once suggested I try being a librarian, but everything I’ve tried to do, I’ve ended up miserable. So I made Amnar, this work of pure love, the centre of my life. It’s not exactly easy – right this moment I’m again on the brink of financial ruination, and trusting myself that I’ll find a way out.
I can’t tell anybody else how to live their own life, but this is how I live mine. I get up every day and I do my best to get on with it. I do what I can to take care of myself, to heal. When I can’t write, I step away from the laptop and respect that maybe Amnar’s not interested in working with me today. Each time it feels like the end of the world, I let myself feel that for a while, and then from somewhere deep inside, I find the courage to keep going. It’s not magic, it’s not something I can put in a neat little “ten steps” post, but it is honestly just how you do it.
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Isabel Joely Black a writer, artist, and general thinker. She has this to say about herself:
I’m thirty, I write books, I draw pictures, and run a business. I also have red hair and love to dance. I’ve also travelled all over the world, adore music, been a cinema projectionist and general explorer of life.