Theory on Thursday with Sami Lee

So excited to have Samhain author Sami Lee visiting today. I first met Sami a few years back at an RWAus conf – I think it was both our first – and immediately fell in love with her. I’m so excited Sami has two new releases coming out this year but in the meantime I can recommend anything from her backlist!! And best of all, she’s talking today about something VERY close to my heart and I’m sure to many of you as well – FEAR!

 Welcome Sami…

Stephen King’s On Writing
“When you write a story, you’re tellingyourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out the thingsthat are not the story.”
Sometime after Easter in 2009, Icontracted a case of writer’s block. I didn’t know it at the time. Like manymaladies it didn’t immediately announce itself. I continued to write as thoughnothing was amiss–until I started to notice something. Nothing I wrote was anygood. Not a single story was worthy of the effort I was putting in. I keptscrapping them after three to five chapters to start something totally new,only to have that story suffer the same fate. I simply wasn’t inspired by myown words. The joy of writing was gone, to be replaced by a horrible, insidiousfear that annihilated my creativity. The fear of not selling, of not being goodenough, of never living up to my own expectations.
When I finally realised (after around 18months of insisting all I needed was a serious chunk of time in which to work)that I had a problem, I took a step away from the computer. I read novels,watched movies, played with my kids and baked cookies. I started to see thingsmore clearly. I had so much going on in my life. A day job, a family, friendsand Cadbury chocolate. The realisation came to me that if I never had anotherbook published I’d still have a rich and fulfilling life. Ironically, it waswhen I finally realised I didn’t needwriting to complete me that I at last felt able to embrace it again.
It was at this time that I bought a copyof Stephen King’s On Writing, a bookwhich restored my faith in my own vision and made me realise all my problemscould be boiled down to one stark fact: I was afraid.
After close to two years of writer’s block, to read the words”The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, thingscan only get better” made me realise the main thing holding me back fromfinishing a book was fear. I was afraid it wouldn’t be good, that the plotwould tie me in knots and I’d lose patience with it, afraid I was wasting mytime. Fear is no friend to creativity my fellow writers. It is creativity’s archenemy.
Another enemy of creativity is guilt. The famous King quote reads:”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” Apart of a writer’s job it to READ. It is RESEARCH. This seems logical enough,but it’s easy when you have such limited writing time to get bogged down inguilt when you spend some of that time reading someone else’s work instead ofcrafting your own. Don’t let the guilts get you. If the writing isn’t working,go read. Refill the well and start again another day, another hour.
Which brings me to another thing this book taught me. King states:“Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” Writingis not the most vital thing in your life. It’s not. Really. IT’S NOT THATIMPORTANT. Your family, your REAL life is what’s important. Writing can totallyconsume you and sometimes, when you’re on a roll, that’s a good thing. The restof the time go be with your family, go for a swim or to a movie. Keep it inperspective and stop beating yourself up for not being Tolstoy.
Toward the end of 2010 I grabbed a notebook and pen and beganwriting a story. I had no idea what it was or where it was going but the deal Imade with myself was to finish it no matter what, even if it really did suck.In order to do that I put the very idea of publishing it out of my mind. Byusing ye olde fashioned pen and paper I felt like I was transported back tothose days when I’d hide my notebooks inside school texts and write withabsolutely no plan, simply because I wanted to do that more than anything else.The absence of that intimidating concept of publication took all the fear outof the process.
It took a year of writing and re-writing and critiquing andsubmitting (ok so I decided to try and publish it after all J), receiving at first a ‘no’ from my editor, andmore rewrites until finally the book was accepted for publication with SamhainPublishing. Erica’s Choice will be released in August 2012, and I couldn’t bemore proud of the final result. It’s the book I wrote when my writer’s self waslearning to walk again, and if it’s not a bestseller or never receives afavourable review, it will still be one of my hardest-won, proudestachievements. Thanks to Stephen King’s book, I won’t forget that my own senseof achievement is what really matters. 

WOW – that’s a heart-warming story Sami. HUGE congrats on ERICA’S CHOICE – I can’t wait to read it. And thanks for the very important reminder about what really matters in life!! 

If you (like me) found Sami’s words inspiring, do check out her website here or find her on Facebook and Twitter

Covers of Sami’s gorgeous backlist are below. You can read about all these books and purchase them here 🙂


7 thoughts on “Theory on Thursday with Sami Lee

  1. A fabulous post, Sami Lee! (Thanks, Rach, for another valuable lesson.)

    It is so very easy to be consumed by our writing and cut ourselves off from the rest of our 'ordinary' lives. Yet without all those other interactions and stimulations our creativity may well languish leaving us wondering why we thought we could write in the first place.

    My mantra is – Be kind to yourself. Your words and characters will still be there tomorrow 🙂

  2. Fantastic post Rach and Sami! So good to know we're not alone. Like you, I've found On Writing to be one of the best craft books I've ever read and from time to time I go back and reread it…lots of dog eared corner pages and yellow highlights throughout. And I agree with Helene, be kind to yourself!
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Really wonderful post, Sami. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. There was much there I could relate to. Fear is such a crippling condition for a writer and, as you rightly point out, it's a pointless feeling. There are more important things in the world. How are we supposed to nurture our stories, our characters, if we can't nurture ourselves?

    And on that note, I'm ceasing writing for the day and trotting off to play with my husband!

    Thanks, ladies. Great stuff.

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