Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Am I Too Old or Just Lazy?

This is the time of year for reflection. I always look back at the year as a way to get clear about what I want for the coming one. 2009 saw the culmination of a life long dream for me--the publication of my memoir, "Following the Whispers." Since its launch in February, I have taken a Book Blog Tour class, met so many wonderful writers online, and began my own blog. And I turned 60.

The last couple of months I've become excited about two new writing projects: a book on aging for Baby Boomers and a fiction piece. But after the initial excitement and preliminary idea generation, nothing, nada, zip. My friends tell me I tend to go towards the dark side with my thoughts, like if someone says they need to talk to me, I immediately think "What's wrong, or what have I done?" But I am thinking, what if I'm too old for this game?

I read the blogs of younger writers than me, some of whom recently obtained agents and book contracts, others are already published and doing everything necessary to market their books. And truthfully, I get tired reading their blogs. I simply don't have that kind of energy any more. Which leads me to ponder whether I should keep going along this writing path if I don't have the energy to do what is necessary to be successful. I am doing some things, like blogging and giving a talk. But I need to do much more. So am I lazy?

Or am I just fooling myself. I write because I need to write. I write because I love it. I love figuring out just the right phrase and way to say what I want to say. I love when others' respond positively, which is what is happening with the memoir. So that begs the question, why am I questioning a path I love?

Because it is not okay with me to do what I love and not feel successful. And to feel successful, I want an agent and a traditional book deal. And that may not be a goal I can obtain.

As I write this, I realize this is more than just am I too old or just lazy? It goes deeper. When I get to the end of my time here in Earth School, what regrets will I have? If I quit writing now, I will regret not even trying. I will regret not taking chances with new genres and uncomfortable writing processes. I will regret not living my dream, even if it doesn't meet society's (and apparently my) definition of success.

Guess I answered my own question. What about you? Is there anything keeping you from living your dream?



The Old Silly said...

What a great muse this post is. What hold me back? Only the limits of what I believe is possible. I keep pushing the envelope, stretching my comfort zone and creating larger realities. It is our god-given right, the LOA works, ask and ye shall receive. Just know and believe what you as for.

Marvin D Wilson

Joanne said...

The internet presence that writers are encouraged to maintain is daunting. And yet, there are successful authors who do not do this. I recently read Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge, and when I searched online, found she does have her own web site, but she does not blog or tweet, yet her book won the Pulitzer for fiction. So I say, write, write, write. Follow your heart on how you want to manage what you choose to do, and the rewards you need will follow.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Karen, we’re the same age and I have found myself having similar thoughts. However, I’ll continue to write because I enjoy it. Once that enjoyment goes away, then I’ll know it’s time to stop. My writing ‘career’ has already gone further than I ever imagined, so I consider myself a success. I'd love to become more successful, but if that doesn't happen, I'm okay with it - at least for now.

Jen Chandler said...

Hello Karen,

It sounds to me you're doing just fine. I agree with Joanne: "The internet presence that writers are encouraged to maintain is daunting. And yet, there are successful authors who do not do this." I was just thinking about this yesterday. I understand that publishing companies are looking to cut back their expenses and I see the value of marketing your own work, but if we don't have time or energy to actually write, what good is all this marketing doing for us? We are writers and therefore we must write. I think it's tiring trying to follow all the social media just to appear like we're ready for publication. Story is what should matter. If someone loves my story, I pray they take it on for that one reason alone. THEN we can play the social media game as fiercely as they wish :)

Keep writing!

Tamika: said...

Karen you are not alone in your reservations. I am a thirty year old with two kids and a demanding husband. It feels impossible some days to anchor myself in a chair.

There is no rule that says we have to follow a certain formula- but we do have to believe. You have evidence that is can be done, you have already begun your dream. All things are possible!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

First let me congratulate you on your award!! Way to go!

I ponder the same things your do and still question whether I should blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is time consuming but I enjoy the fellowship of other writers. So the question remains...blog or no blog.

The only thing that keeps me from writing or writing as much as I want to is my chronic health problems. So rather than set goals, I write when and how much I can and enjoy the times I do.

Devon Ellington said...

Unfortunately, far too much of the burden of promotion has been shifted to the writer. It's important for writers to partner with their publishers, but more and more of the entire magilla is now foisted on the writers -- without pay. We're exhausted all the time with barely any time or energy left to put new words on the page.

Follow your passion and write FIRST. Keep a steady pace of staying out there and connecting with new people and markets, but remember, it's putting words on the page that's the priority.

We all feel old, tired, lazy during this process. And then we rest up and attack from a new direction.

Best wishes.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I don't think a platform is all that important, Karen--the only thing agents and editors care about is the writing. We could have the best online platform in the world, but if the writing is poor or flat, no one will want it. I think following your passion is serving you well!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I'm grateful every day I don't have to deal with toddlers any more. The very idea exhausts me. There's a reason to have kids when you're younger! As for what's holding me back...I'd have to say lack of self-trust.


Tabitha Bird said...

No nothing is keeping me from my dream of publication. I am doing everything I know to follow that dream. Don't quit Karen. Don't end this life with regrets. And I think failure would be not trying. Success would be anything from trying and trying and trying to actually getting that book deal. Keep on going :)

Anonymous said...

Sort of, my toddler-daughter ;)
I think Tamika has it right, we have to believe, even on the days that seem like nothing is going write/right :)

Helen Ginger said...

You are not alone, Karen. I would be surprised to learn there was anyone who did not have fears or reservations. Either we give up or we keep pushing forward or we change directions. Only you can decide what you should do. But I will say that 60 is not old. If you want to keep writing, then I suggest you take that fiction idea and brainstorm plot points. Free yourself to write anything down with no censorship. You're not tied to what you jot down. You're just generating ideas. That's all. You've made no commitment. If you work fast and without asking yourself if the idea is good or right, you'll come up with a lot of possibilities, some good, some not so good. You may well be surprised at where your thoughts take you.

And I repeat, 60 is not too old to try new things or to continue doing what you love. 80 is not old, nor is 90.

And now I'll shut up before I get booed from the pulpit.

Straight From Hel

Linda said...

Karen I think athat at age 60 you've got a lot of wisdom to draw on. Coupled with your love, and talent, for writing there are no limits to what you can accomplish. Rest in knowing that when the time is right, doors will open. Meantime just keep writing!

Cyndi said...

Isn't it amazing how just writing about a question leads us to our own answers? Doing what you love to do is huge. Plus, if you stop you eliminate all chances of ever getting an agent and traditional book deal. Keep writing please! :)

Simon Hay said...

You'll have no regrets when you finish earth school. Regrets are for earth, not graduation. We have this around the wrong way, all the angels that visit me look at us with unprecedented awe; we are the angels. We're living a life that only we judge.

What terrifies me is my potential, but by knowing this I am brave. Aging is a cruel dogma, and is not meant to be a burden or destroyer of dreams. Dream, play, and see what the angels see.

Andrea Lopez said...

Your not the only one who suffers from this dilemma. But what keeps us from being great is our ability to take the first step. :) Just start and learn from it as you go along.