Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Rachael Herron: Keeping the spark alive.

Guest Blogger, Author Rachael Herron has this to say:

Hi readers and writers,

You’re an artist in some way.

Yes, you. I see you there, hiding there in the back shaking your head. I just like to read books. I’m not creative.

What do you do that brings you joy? What do you make? Cookies? Scarves? Do you sing in the car? Do you have a great eye for color?

Yes, keep reading. You’re creative, and I’m so glad to talk to you.

I’m back from my month off (oh, joy), and I’m so relieved to be back at work (I don’t relax well). I’m currently revising a thriller. It’s a departure for me, and it’s what I’ve wanted to write for years. The 911 dispatcher picks up the phone to find her daughter on the other end of the line, and it’s bad, y’all.

I was a dispatcher for many years, and I always knew that when I didn’t work for the department anymore, I’d write about the long, tedious hours, and the pure adrenaline that pounds through your system when lives truly hang in the balance. I’d make it exciting and realistic.

I wrote the thriller. It’s got a mother/daughter team that I just love. I adore the book.

And man, is it kicking my ass.

My incredible, intelligent, and very market-savvy agent is having me revise it again, to get it into the best shape possible before she tries to sell it. She’s right about everything that I need to fix, even though the last time I sent it to her, I was pretty sure it was just about perfect.

It wasn’t.

And every single day, I don’t want to work on it. It feels like doing the same thing over and over. What’s the point?


It’s just hard to keep going, no matter what we’re in the middle of doing. The political climate is beating us down. Loss happens. Grief arises.

Just getting through the day can be rough.

  • If you’re a mother, tomorrow will dawn, and you’ll have to get up to do it all over again, no matter how little sleep you get tonight.
  • If you’re a musician, you wonder if your best composition is behind you.
  • If you’re a writer, you struggle to string three words together, even though it’s all you want to do.
  • If you’re a mother and a musician and a writer, then I simply bow your magnificent direction. 🙏

So that begs the question:

How do we keep going?

I had a chat with my friend Marrije this morning. I asked how her writing is going, and she held up a small blank book. She told me that every day, no matter what, she writes one page in it from the point of view of one of her characters. Often that work makes it into the novel she’s working on, and sometimes it’s background work to better understand her characters.

But it’s her baseline.

It’s the least she allows herself to do.

It keeps her creative writing spark alive.

I picture Marrije leaning down and blowing gently over the paper, once a day. Even if she has no time for anything else, the fact that she touched the work, that she blew until the ember glowed, keeps her going.

And because she does that, the world speaks to her. She finds synchronicity in the happenings around her—she sees an article that inspires a new plot point, or she hears a conversation that illuminates a character trait.

What’s your baseline?

What’s the bare minimum you can decide to do daily to keep your spark alive?

Marrije also pointed me to an AMAZING (truly) talk by the wondrous Austin Kleon with 10 Tips to Keep Going. You should watch this. You won’t regret the time spent. The end, especially, moved me.

So, my friend, find your baseline. Name it. Know it.

Then blow on that spark gently. Grow the ember to a flame and then to a blaze. Feel that warmth. You’re worth it.

Note from Marlene: I watched the 26 minute  Austin Kleon video. Totally worth the time. 🙂


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