Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Monday Motivation

#MondayMotivation: Write for You

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Folks, I’m going to take a time-out on my book promotion activities with regards to CHANGING FACES (if you want a copy, just follow the pages backward and you’ll be able to get one) and talk about one of the things that motivates me, it being Monday and all.

So, without further ado…what motivates Barb Caffrey as a writer?

So many things, actually. I want to tell stories with heart, that matter, that feel real, that have empathy, that maybe shed light on the human condition in new ways…of course, all of that sounds quite profound, doesn’t it?

Really, I write for me.

(Picture my big, evil grin here.)

Seriously. I write for me. I’ve done this since I was small, on and off…I wanted to read stories that I didn’t see anywhere, but knew had power and resonance. And the only way to read those stories, under the circumstances, was to find a way to write them myself.

I think a lot of writers are that way, actually. We have a need to read stories that aren’t out there yet. We get a germ of an idea, and we keep going until the idea is finished.

Yeah, it seems to take me longer than some novelists to finish my ideas. (If I had to judge myself against my friend Chris Nuttall, for example, and how fast he can write a novel, I’d quail at ever writing another word.) But I’m not the only one out there who takes a bit of time with a concept to get it right.

For example, I know two writers very well who have had to take long periods of time to finish a novel, albeit for different reasons. In one case, my friend needed to take time out for health concerns, but she had a third novel in her in a series and she wanted to tell it. It took her a number of extra years to do this, but she didn’t let her health concerns defeat her; in the end, her novel was published, to wide acclaim, and now there is hope that she’ll have a fourth book (or at least novelette) in the series available soon.

In the other, my friend tried for years to get his novel to come clear for him, but for whatever reason it didn’t quite feel right. He published several other things, including a couple of acclaimed short stories and several co-written novels along with some other solo works, but he kept coming back to this particular novel because he needed to tell that story and wanted to get it right. And now, that book is out, and he’s got a contract for a couple more in the series, with readers saying, “More, please…” and not understanding he has a day job.

But I digress.

Or am I?

This is Monday Motivation, after all, and me talking about two of my friends and how they’ve persisted in telling the stories they need to tell does matter. They didn’t give up, and they got out books that readers love, that are helping to build their names and careers, and are continuing on with their efforts to write more stories that they absolutely have a burning need to tell.

Good for them.

I know I have tried to do that, too. The Elfy novels took over ten years to find a publisher, but I didn’t give up. CHANGING FACES went through at least five major revisions and a late-round revision and updating I’ve gone into multiple times in the past year before it finally came out earlier this month, over fourteen years after it was started.

See, if you have a story that is inside you, you have to tell it. Or you aren’t being true to yourself.

So write for you. Tell that story. Don’t give up, no matter how long it takes, nor how many revisions you need to go through, nor even whether it seems like it won’t matter ’cause sales aren’t brisk and you aren’t making a dent.

Do it anyway.

Do it for yourself.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 13, 2017 at 11:21 am

Monday Motivation: Transcending Fear

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Sometimes, the toughest thing to do as a writer is to get out of your own way.

As this is a Monday Motivation post — meaning I’m trying, deliberately, to give some inspiration to some writer somewhere who’s having trouble, and thinks he or she is the only one in the world who’s ever suffered this — I figured I’d talk about one of the biggest problems writers have: transcending fear.

“But Barb,” you say, “why write if it’s so hard to get past your fear of what’s going to come out?”

I’m not sure why I write, entirely, except that I need to do it. (Stories to tell and miles to go…all that.) However, because I want my writing to reflect as much “real life” angst and heartbreak and agony — along with love, compassion, and kindness, natch — I have to be willing to put everything I have, everything I am, onto the page. Without judgment, without second-guessing, without…I don’t know…Editor Voice getting in the way and saying, “You can’t do that.”

So there is some fear involved, with writing, if you do it right. You may not think about it much, at the time, but it’s still there, waiting for the moment to pounce.


We’re all bundles of ego and nerves, you see, and when you’re creating something new, it’s agonizing. Or exhilirating. Or nerve-racking. Or all of it at once.

And I’m not the only writer in the history of the world to think this, either. (Far from it.) Ralph Keyes thought so much about this idea, he wrote a book called THE COURAGE TO WRITE: How Writers Transcend Fear. In Keyes’ book, he discusses many different reasons as to why writers worry so much about what other people will think of them, their writing, their descriptions, their everything…and why, ultimately, you should listen to your own “inner voice” and throw all of that out, so you can get on with the job of writing.

Ultimately, Keyes’ point is that writers are gamblers by nature. We take risks, and we need to take them, because that is how we’re made. And one of those risks we take, every day we sit down to write, is in how what we write is going to be perceived.

It’s something I know, that fear. I push past it, because I have to do it; maybe it helps that unlike many of my fellow writers, I was trained as a performing musician, and thus have had to deal with my own nerves, and my own fears of failed performance in action, from early life onward.

But you, too, can get past your own fear. You can get out of your own way, and write…you can find a way to silence Editor Voice, at least for long enough to do what you need to do.

So, just for today, don’t be afraid of what comes out when you sit down to write. Give yourself room, and time, and watch the words flow out, no matter what they are.

That way, you get past your fear, and you do what you were born to do.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 28, 2016 at 6:13 am

#MondayInspiration: Be Your Best Self

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Folks, I continue to struggle with the housing crisis. But I wanted to make sure I wrote a blog today, as it’s Monday…we all need inspiration, and Monday seems to be the best day to put something up that might help someone, somewhere.

“But why, Barb, do you say I should be my best self? How is that inspirational in any way?” you ask.

Um, because being your best self isn’t always easy. Things happen, like my current housing crisis, that can throw you off your game. That makes it harder for you to tap into your creativity, and harder to do anything positive, because it doesn’t seem to matter much anyway.

But it truly does.

When you think your creativity doesn’t matter is precisely when it does. It’s your way of striking back against the darkness in your life. Against the stuff that’s going wrong, that maybe you can’t fix, that maybe you can’t even fathom…it’s your way of saying, “Hey, universe, you may have me by the throat, but you can’t break me.”

Look, folks. The courage to create is often tied up in two things: being willing to look stupid for a teensy bit (in order to get something important out), and knowing that you might well fail time and time again (because only in failure can you find your way through to success). These two things seem antithetical to creativity, but for some reason, they can also be a catalyst if you work it just right.

Yes, it’s paradoxical, that you can use these two things to fuel your creativity and fuel yourself during difficult and stressful times. But it works…it allows you to keep trying, because you aren’t as afraid to look stupid. And it allows you to keep working hard, even knowing that your first, second, third, or even sixty-first attempt might not be what you want…but the sixty-second just might be.

The main thing I want to impress upon you, readers, is this: You have to keep trying. Whatever creative spark that is in you, you need to encourage it to flower. You can’t give up, just because times are hard and bad…you have to do whatever you can, even if it’s very small, even if it seems unimportant, because that’s your way of being your best self.

Or at least your best creative self.

Anyway, what do you do when you feel up against it, and need to create? (Watch cat GIFs?) I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 24, 2016 at 2:51 pm