Never Give Up Writing
By Jorge Antonio Vallejos
It’s been a tough day! I don’t even want to write this post. It’s like I fear the page, the screen, the keyboard.
I’m watching one of my videos, How To Write Your Path, to motivate and remind myself of the path I’m on and why I’m on it.
Writing can be a tough gig: difficult editors, rejection slips, and wondering if anyone is reading what you write.
The other tough reality is that people close to you might not respect what your doing; they might think your wasting your time; they might think they wasted their time in investing in you and all you turned out to be was a writer.
Most often if can be family, or significant others, that have these thoughts about you.
The people who are supposed to be your biggest supporters can be your biggest detractors.
Success to my family equals being a doctor, lawyer, or teacher.
I have no interest in either.
In some ways I am a teacher when I run workshops and do speaking gigs. Some people view blackcoffeepoet.com as a learning resource.
But, I’m still someone who writes and does not make much money off of it. Some use the term “starving artist”. I’m not starving but I am an artist. I’m just not on any bestseller lists or big blog award list.
Still, I come to the page, whether writing or reading, everyday.
I’m not giving up. And I hope if you are a writer that you don’t give up either.
Here are a few things to think about during the tough times:
Remember Why You Write
In my video This Is Why I Write, originally my application for an MFA in creative writing program, I laid out why I write. It was from the heart. It was not a manifesto. It was me and the art that is me. The same way that a brush is an extension of an artists arm, my pen and keyboard are an extension of me. And I write for a reason: my writing is not only self expression and personal thought and growth on a page, my writing is my activism. Some people go to protests, some become lawyers, some form organizations and lobby governments, I write. I put pen to pad and fingers to keyboard and write.
What is success? Is it having letters behind your name on a business card? Is it driving a fancy car? Is it having a home and a hetero-normative life?
Who is successful? Is it the person in a cubicle for 14 hours a day with a few zeros behind the number of their yearly wage? Is it the person with the degree in a respected field?
What is success to you?
Is success one big accomplishment?
To me success comes via different means at different points in my life. Here are four recent successes in my life:
1. Publication in a journal that I respect: Yellow Medicine Review Fall 2012. I was rejected by this journal 4 times and I kept on trying. I got in and I was published alongside some big names in the Indigenous literature world!
2. Being commissioned to write a poem, Spreading The Roots And Reach Of The Living Tree, and having the organization be happy with my work. I presented it at a conference to a crowd that was receptive and inspired by my words.
3. Overcoming my fear of writing an essay, On Reading Chrystos: Her Words Are Not Vanishing, writing it, and presenting it at a conference to a crowd that love it! For 4 years I avoided writing this essay. It is now here and I hope to see it published in print soon.
4. Receiving a letter from a reader like this one below:
Dear Black Coffee Poet,
I am attending Oregon State University as a masters student in the Women Studies program. My class, Community Organzing and Collective Action, requires us to interview a community organizer or activist. We can do this over the phone or via Skype. I would like to interview you because you have influenced my life greatly (domestic violence survivor) through your YOUTUBE channel, Face Book page, and website. Is there a possibility that you would allow me to interview you?
Thank you for all you do.
Hold On To Your Dream
Are you working toward a book? Are you starting a blog about your passion? Are you wanting to effect change via your words in a chosen genre?
It takes years to hone your craft. It takes sitting down everyday to write. It takes you putting yourself out there via sharing your work with a trusted friend, or an audience watching you on stage, or submitting to publications.
It takes energy, effort, and time.
It takes will, sacrifice, and resolve.
It takes patience, character, and discipline.
It takes you, all of you, showing up every single day.
Never give up writing!