Writers Write

A Writer’s Manifesto

A Yoga Manifesto by Mary Billard in Sunday’s New York Times is about Yoga to the People, a no frills studio in New York City. I don’t practice yoga, but I latched on to two quotes Billiard attributes to Bikram Choudhury via studio owner, Greg Gumucio.

You are your own teacher. You are responsible for your own experience.

And . . . distractions are everywhere.

Candle, incense, music, easy to meditate! Try being calm and peaceful in your car when someone cuts you off.

Sometimes, I’d like to shove my manuscript in front of someone and say, “Here it is. Tell me what to do with it.” But I can’t because it’s my world. I invented it. I can ask for help, but this universe lives or dies by my pen. If I cut the most important scene because a reader is uncomfortable, the story is no longer mine.

Fiction is a place without external obligation. At this point, no one comes knocking to collect my next page. When it’s going well, the real world is far away. I set an alarm to remind me to pick the kids up at school. But when I’m in the doldrums, stuck in my head with a slack sail, everything is a distraction, a crisis that steers me away from the page.

Writing is more about muscle-building than artistry.

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