Please welcome my awesome friend Katie Bryski to the blog! She’s releasing a new podcast that I’m LOVING! The image at the top is how I imagine us together. I’m not saying who the evil one is, though.- Val
Hi everyone! I’m so glad that Val invited me onto her blog today! I’ve just released an audio drama—Six Stories, Told at Night—which is very exciting. But today, I’m here to talk about tenacity in the writing process.
Sometimes writing is hard. Not just the actual, sitting down and writing part. I mean, sure, that can be hard too, but I’m talking about a different kind of hardness—the hardness that comes when you suddenly look up and think, What on Earth am I doing?
Who wants to read this?
Who am I kidding?
Everything I do is awful and I should just stop right now.
Such crises happen to all artists, whether they admit it or not. So what can you do, when such doubts strike?
I’d like to share a story.
Part of my dayjob involves giving brewery tours. Each tour concludes by leading a tasting of three different beers. One night, I was giving a special after-hours tour. The rain was pounding down outside, thunder rumbling on top of us.
Now, the brewery itself is in a basement, and said basement is prone to flooding. I was handing out Sample No. 2 when I glanced towards the back of the brewery. A trickle of water dribbled between two of the panels in our ventilation system. As I watched, the panels gave way completely, and that trickle became Niagara Falls.
Everyone spun around. Water gushed onto the floor, but it was mostly staying on the other side of the room. My brain went into overdrive. Due to licensing issues, we couldn’t drink the beer outside the brewery. We only had one more sample to get through. What to do?
We kept going, gosh darn it.
I’ve given this tour so many times that I have literally done it in my sleep (gotta love work dreams). At this point, it’s practically muscle memory—my mouth knew what to say, and half my brain attended to the tour while the other half monitored the advancing flood.
There’s a lot of reasons that I could give for continuing the tour. But what it comes down to is this: it’s what I’ve been trained to do. When that tour begins, we get through it, come hell or high water…literally, in this case. I kept talking because—well, because I couldn’t not. The instinct is too strong.
That’s an instinct several years in the making. It’s like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. A similar instinct can save us when the vents burst in your writing life, too.
My theory is this. You build your writing muscle. You reinforce that instinct. You lay down a foundation of discipline until you can’t not write. And then—when the crisis of faith hits, when the rejections come, when someone you respect criticizes you harshly—you can have that moment of thinking, “What do I do?” But really, you already know.
You carry on. You keep writing. You do your thing, despite the rising waters. Why? Because this is what you do. This is what you’ve been trained to do, and what you’ve done every day, and what you know so well that you can hear your own words over the storm.
KT Bryski is a Canadian author and podcaster. She has short fiction in Daily Science Fiction, and stories forthcoming from Strange Horizons and Apex. Her audio dramas “Six Stories, Told at Night” and “Coxwood History Fun Park” are available wherever fine podcasts are found, and she is currently at work on her next novel. KT is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing. As you may have guessed, she also has a mild caffeine addiction. Visit her at www.ktbryski.com.
- I wasn’t going to write
- (writing) Working on a real schedule