Today I’m joined by Ami Hendrickson, a minion of coffee and craver of chocolate. Ami is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and playwright who you can find on http://www.amihendrickson.com. She is the ghostwriter for several internationally recognized master horse trainers and other notable experts including Clinton Anderson, Dr. James Warson, and Geoff Teall. She is also the editor of the Trainer’s Certification Manual for the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA).
Ami enjoys conducting writing workshops, mentoring, and consulting other writers to help them improve their craft. She lives with her husband and daughter, two flatulent dogs, and several tons of horses on a 100+ year-old farm in southwest Michigan. She tweets @MuseInks and blogs at http://MuseInks.com.
I am honoured to have her guest on my blog and found her post to be strangely serendipitous in its timing for me. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did…
No Matter What Life Throws Your Way: Write
“I’m not tough enough for my dreams,” a writer friend recently lamented to me. She’d received one too many rejections and had taken it like a bullet to her heart.
“You can’t give up,” I told her. “Every time you send it out, someone new sees it for the first time. Keep polishing it. Keep refining it. Keep on keeping on.”
She made “I’m going to quit” noises, but I know better. She’s a writer – a damn good one. Every writer knows you can’t just quit writing, no matter what life throws under your front wheels. Might as well decide to quit breathing.
Besides, just when you’re ready to throw in the towel, the Muse will find a way to remind you that you have story to tell. And no one has been chosen to tell it but you.
To date, the most bizarre year of my life was 2005. That January wrapped with “seizure week,” culminating in my husband, Robert, spending twenty-three action-packed hours in the emergency room of UCLA’s Medical Center, hallucinating about being on the bridge of an intergalactic spaceship as aliens attacked the planet, convinced that I was there, somewhere, miscarrying our imaginary baby, oblivious to the fact that we had a daughter, and generally making a determined break from reality.
While such things as no memory and ongoing uncontrollable grand mal seizures may concern mere mortals like wives who are over 2,000 miles away with a two-year old child and on deadline for a book project, they were not enough to warrant hospital admission. So, with a Swiss-cheese brain, questionable motor skills, no family members present, no wallet, no money and no identification (not to mention the whole “space aliens invading” motif ), Robert was discharged and left to his own devices.
Fortunately, when Robert’s brother arrived two hours later, after successfully braving the traffic on the 405, my husband was only found wandering the halls and not on Wilshire Boulevard.
I made emergency arrangements for our daughter, promised my editor that the manuscript would be finished on schedule, booked an immediate flight and arrived in Los Angeles where events blurred into a steady stream of stress.
A few days after my arrival, while trying to catch up on client work before leaving for yet another doctor appointment, I opened my email.
“Congratulations! You have been chosen…”
Two of my screenplays had been selected as finalists in a major screenwriting competition. I felt as if a gust of the Santa Ana winds outside had somehow blown into my soul, opening windows, airing out the place, recharging the atmosphere, blasting me out of survival mode and stirring up a little creative chaos in the process. At that moment it didn’t matter whether my scripts ultimately won or lost. What mattered to me was the reminder that I had the great good fortune of being a writer. Above all else, “you have been chosen” reminded me that I was not a victim.
Writing as an endeavor has a mind of its own, latching on with all the captivating caprice and desperate tenacity of a toddler who doesn’t want to be left alone with anyone, anyone, anyone but you. You do not choose to be a writer. Call it Kismet or karma, a cross to carry or a blessing to share, the need to express yourself through the written word chooses you.
If you are a writer – if you have been chosen to wrestle with words – you are entrusted with the most demanding of gifts. Writing demands discipline. It demands time. It demands candor. Above all, it demands humility. Writing, like childbirth, like marriage, like living, is rarely easy. Rather, it is an undertaking that requires vast amounts of commitment and determination in order to produce anything worthwhile.
The Writing Muse is not selfish. She gives far more than she gets. If her demands are met, she gifts the writer with the ability to create entire dominions, dynasties and deities out of nothing more than concentrated thought.
Writing is my not-so-secret weapon for repelling complacency, despair, and fear – those invaders who would storm my battlements and destroy my defenses if I gave them so much as a toehold.
My writing makes me who I am. Without it, my existence would lose a richness that would render it indistinguishable and far inferior to the life I now enjoy. Every time I engage in transferring the words in my brain onto the page, giving them substance, weight, and ultimately a life of their own, a selective thrill fuels the process.
As 2005 progressed, we discovered that the cause of my husband’s woes was not (as originally diagnosed) a rapidly growing brain tumor, but rather a severe allergic reaction to new seizure control medication. Regaining his memory took the better part of the year, though to this day his vivid recollection of the alien invasion remains crystal clear. My way of coping with the experience? If you’re a writer, you probably know: I wrote my way through it.
You see, when you’re a writer, it doesn’t matter if you’re tough enough for your dreams. Instead, congratulations are in order. You have been chosen. Let the words flow.
Thank you Ami! If you’re interested in writing a guest post for my blog, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!