Reviving My Blue Flame

Reviving My Blue Flame

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been having trouble finding the energy to write, and it finally occurred to me that maybe what was holding me back (outside of quarantine stress) was this feeling like I couldn’t just write whatever gave me joy, which right now might not be mystery.

It was then I picked up Jennifer Fulwiler’s INCREDIBLE new book, Your Blue Flame, and she spoke directly to me (through the words on the page, of course 😉 ).

“You’ll know you’ve encountered a blue flame when: It feels like you were meant to do it. It gives you energy. It benefits other people.”

As I read more, I kept coming back to what I’ve known to be my blue flame since I was nine: writing.

Fine, but what kind? Writing comes in so very many forms, and even though I’m agented for mystery, what I’ve always wanted to write was children’s books.

When I was in third grade, Patricia Polacco, the children’s book author, came to my school. She brought with her the meteor that hit outside her house when she was a child, and that she wrote about in her book Meteor! As we left the auditorium, we were allowed to touch the meteor and make a wish. I wished that I could be a children’s book author like Patricia Polacco someday…

Here I am now, nearly twenty-five years later, and though I have written many children’s books, I’ve more recently pursued the writing of mysteries, something I usually very much enjoy, but had difficulty finding joy in during quarantine.

I thought again of that Little Women quote (it just keeps popping up!) and I felt encouraged to find joy in writing again, no matter what form that took.

I looked around me, at the two smiling, adoring faces of my kids, and realized I have two fans right here, right now, who are exactly the age of the books I like to write, so what’s keeping me? Why not write For Them—two critics who would never give me rejection and who would love to read my stories.

So that’s what I started doing. I switched to writing children’s books again and suddenly, remarkably, energy came flowing back to me, sparking me to write not just those, but another new idea: escape room-style homeschooling sessions (something I’m calling “Quests” and can be found at my other website, GamesAfoot.net).

And then, wonder of wonders, a month later I found myself eager again to return to mystery! Sure enough, as soon as I sat down again to my cozy mystery, the words just came flowing out and now I’m almost finished with my first draft! (I look forward to telling you more about that book later. 😉 )

So here’s what I’ve learned: it doesn’t matter what you’re writing. If your blue flame is writing, grab onto it and write! Ride that wave of inspiration all the way in, but then get right back out there, looking for the next wave. It may be a different ride than you expected, but if it gets you moving, it’s worth it.

I hope this has inspired you to encourage your own blue flame, whatever that might be. If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend Jennifer Fulwiler’s Your Blue Flame, as well as her podcast, “This is Jen.” Thanks for reading—now I’m off to write!

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