If you were to ask novelists why they write, most would readily assert that it’s not for the money. The writers I know would make significantly more money toasting bagels and steaming lattes. Penning a novel is a work of love, or in my case, a work of loves. Karma’s a Killer, like the rest of my Downward Dog Mysteries, combines three of my most ardent passions: German shepherds, yoga, and cozy murder mysteries. Yoga, dogs, and murder—what could be more fun?
Still, slogging through a first draft often feels less like making love, more like walking through hardening cement. When things get tough, I remind myself of one of yoga’s most important principles: persevering practice.
The most well-renowned book of yoga teachings is an ancient text called the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. According to this text, yoga postures are only one form of persevering practice. Any practice—including yoga poses, breath work, meditation, and for me, writing—helps us find inner peace. But in order to be persevering, a practice must occur:
§ Over a long period of time
§ Without interruption
§ With dedication and enthusiasm
§ With an intention of personal growth
§ Without attachment to results.
Writing, for me, is no easier. My energy for writing ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s part of my daily routine; sometimes it falls off my radar for weeks at a time. Sometimes I race to my computer with the joy of a six-year-old schoolgirl with a bright green lollipop; other times I drag myself to the keyboard like a fifty-year-old en route to her first colonoscopy.
And that whole idea of not being attached to the results? Well, let’s just say I could write a second series in the time I spend looking at my Amazon sales rankings.
Still, the persevering practice analogy has meaning. I wrote the first two chapters of my first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, over five years ago. Then I let the manuscript sit, untouched, for almost two years. Until I worked on it daily, I made no progress. My most meaningful writing days are always the ones in which I explore life’s deepest emotions and my own personal vulnerabilities. And on the days I lack dedication and enthusiasm, my words end up as crumpled pages at the bottom of my recycle bin.
As for attachment to results, well, I have to let that go. Any writer attached to success lasts about three minutes in this business before laughing maniacally, tossing her computer out the window, and popping popcorn over the negative reviews crackling in her fireplace.
So why do I continue? I write because the practice offers me unexpected gifts: flashes of self-understanding, moments of quiet calm, a connection to laughter and joy in this oftentimes challenging life.
Like many authors, my writing practice waxes and wanes, and my hope of reaching the New York Times Bestseller list often seems unattainable. But writing taps into something special. Something I haven’t found in the rest of my life. Simply put, writing feeds me.
So if you need me, I'll be glued to my keyboard—persevering.