Seize That Day! - by Liz Carter

This is going to show my age.

When I was a youngster, I loved the movie Dead Poet's Society starring Robin Williams. It was something about the raw mixture of adolescence, strict boarding schools and earnest poetry that spoke to my longing-for-more heart. My favourite scene was the one where Robin Williams gathered the boys and told them 'Carpe Diem': seize the day. No more waiting to show the greatness inside - bring it all out, he advised them. The years are short.

I've long thought this applies in writing life (and life in general), but I've so often not managed to do it. The trouble is with writing life is everything is soooo verrrrry sloooow. Waiting takes up a great chunk of the author's life: waiting for feedback from readers. Waiting for agents and publishers to get back to you. Waiting for your book to be published. Waiting for reviews.


And then the wait gets longer when we get lots of rejections, or when we can't quite summon up the courage to publish our work. So that manuscript languishes in a drawer for many years, or in a dusty old file somewhere in Windows Explorer. You put so much work into it at the time, you were up for hours at night planning scenes and you were breathless with excitement as the words flowed and the story took shape. You sent it out to agents, sure it was ready for market, but then...

A big fat nothing.

You got dispirited. You thought your book wasn't very good after all. Your readers liked it, but you couldn't find it in yourself to do anything more with it, because the rejection stung too much. You thought that you might one day dust it off and do some work on it, but maybe not. Maybe you'd write another one.

So you did, and then the same circle...

Of course, the circle can be delightfully interrupted by agents and publishers saying Yes. And then a whole load more waiting ensues. But this post is one in recognition of all those words that hide in the deep recesses of our minds and computers, and yet could have a place out there in the world, if only we got them out there.

The years are short. We think we might have all the time in the world, so we go slow, developing our craft and taking the highs where we can. And it's perfectly right to do this. But there are times when we need to seize the day, too, to show our work to the world, to be a little bit vulnerable, to say hey, look, I worked really hard on this, what do you think?

This is fresh for me because events have transpired that might propel me very suddenly into getting a dystopian novel I first wrote a few years back published. I'd all but given up on it, but it kept eating away at me, and something has happened to bring it to the surface (more on that soon.) So watch this space for that. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts about unpublished work, and whether it's a good thing to get it out there - or should it be left alone, taken as part of the journey? I suppose it varies, depending on how ready for publication it is. But if it's not, why not get it edited, see where it goes?

I just want to encourage you today to claim the years. To seize the time you are in, to share your hard work, to be filled with courage. To remember that things can happen to suddenly stop you in your tracks, and so to live to your calling where you are able. For some, this might look like polishing off an unpublished manuscript, and for others, to share that poem you wrote and you're feeling a little bit shy about. Nothing is less worthy than anything else - this is your calling from God, and God partners with you to bring these words to birth. You never know, one of you might have a bestseller sitting in the back of your drawer!

Scripture tells us that there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3) and that 'He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart.' God continues to make everything beautiful; all that you are and that you create as you walk with him. And in your words the longing for eternity keeps echoing out - so; seize the day, and speak them out, write them out, publish them out, live them out. One of the best things about technology is the ease of doing this, and people are starving for words of integrity as well as words of entertainment. These things can come together, and when they do, they are explosive.

So keep on keeping on, because the years are short, and eternity pulses in your heart and in your words.

Liz Carter is an author, poet and editor from Shropshire. She loves to write about the difficult and painful times in life, and how we can find gold in the mess. Her books Catching Contentment and Treasure in Dark Places are available in online bookstores.  Her first novel will be published this autumn (watch this space) and her next non-fiction book with The Good Book Company is coming in Spring 2023. She is poet-in-residence of her local town and works freelance to proofread, format and design books.

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