The Boot Camp Writer’s Creed: What We’re About

I turned 53 yesterday. Birthdays always make me think of the meaning of my life.

And because I was building the new classrooms and the community, I ended up thinking about the WHY of the HTTS Boot Camp, and all the people in it, and why I and the other people there are doing what we do.

  • Why have so many of us come together to pursue writing,
  • why do we want writing so much,
  • why do we want to bring other writers with us into this shared dream we have of creating fiction people will love,
  • why do we want to get that fiction into readers’ hands,
  • and why do we need to be paid (and thus validated) by the people who love what we do to keep creating?

And the answer wasn’t simple. It was every individual life story (or shard of it) that has appeared in the Boot Camp forum, hundreds upon hundreds of emails I’ve received, countless posts from the old Forward Motion forum back when I owned and ran it…

And all of those stories don’t even boil down to something simple.

Between the joyous exuberance of finding something you’re good at and the ugly pain of finding a way to exorcise the demons abuse, torture, and malevolence lies the entire realm of human experience.

But that—human experience—that is the point of why we come together. Because no matter how we get there, we arrive at wanting to write successfully, and wanting to see our colleagues write successfully, to do this very human thing with each other…

…because we understand that words matter.

That was the footer on my blog for a long time.

“Words matter.”

Words define what and how we are able to think.

Words—and the act of stringing them together in meaningful ways—matter to us…to who we are and how we live our lives because they allow us do decide who we choose to be and how we choose to define our selves and our lives as human beings.

Words—and the act of stringing them together in meaningful ways—matter to our fellow writers, who also discover and determine the value of life to them and the way that they choose to be human through this exploration.

The words that we put together matter to the readers who are or someday will be in places like those we have come through…but who—unlike us—arrive there with no words to help them find their way through what faces them.

If our readers find our words, they will find the path we have created to the courage and the strength, the humor and the understanding they’ll need to be the people they choose to be.

Words and their meanings and how we use them are the foundation of being human.

Getting our words right, and getting them out there for others to read, is worth doing.

So while I was gutting code and setting up classrooms, I started thinking through who we in the HTTS Boot Camp are.

HTTS Boot Camp writers are a very small subset of the writing community.

We are not representative of all writers—not by a long shot.

  • We don’t view each other as the enemy to be conquered, but as allies to share this journey with.
  • We aren’t looking for taxpayers or other people who will never read our work to pay our way through lifewe’re reaching out directly to OUR readers, the people who will love what we do, and who will benefit from what we have created, whether with joy or laughter or release from pain or deeper understanding, and we are saying, I will trade fairly with you: we have made friends with the concept that making money is GOOD, that writing is a real job, and that we deserve to get paid for our work.
  • We do not think that to be a great writer, you have to be unappreciated in your lifetime, starve to death in your garret, and only be discovered once you’re a corpse: We want to be read and appreciated—and paid—now.
  • And we do not think the purpose of fiction is to point out how worthless and meaningless fiction and life both are. We know our lives matter, both to ourselves and to each other. And we know that writing, done with intent and imbued with what matters to us, is meaningful and worthwhile.

As I thought all of this through, I put together a short creed that I think is representative of who we—the members of the HTTS Boot Camp—are.

HTTS Boot Camp Writer’s Creed

This year, I will write a story I love.

This year, I will connect with the readers who will love it too.

This year, I will be paid for my creation by the people to whom it matters.

This year, I will live my dream.

This isn’t carved in stone. Yet. πŸ™‚

Let me know what you think.

And write with joy.

Holly

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

39 comments… add one
  • Mea Oct 28, 2013 @ 13:46

    i love the creed :)!Happy birthday in arrears and thank-you for your fab courses.

  • Marie Oct 16, 2013 @ 14:27

    Very belated birthday wishes, Holly. Wonderful creed.
    Thanks for everything πŸ™‚

  • Claudette Oct 14, 2013 @ 13:25

    Hope you had a marvelous “Achievement Day,” Holly. I gave up birthdays long ago in favor of Achievement Days. It was a mindset change. With each such day, I get to look back and see what I, personally, have achieved with my life within that framework. I figure my birthing day had purpose, as does my life. Reflecting on that purpose once a year, I think, is needful to get focus for the next one.

    Your life reflection regarding writing is inspiring, as is your creed. We don’t have to cut each other’s throats to thrive in our passion. We have only to enjoy our work and that of others. We cannot crush the dreams of others in order to pursue our own, for there lies actual ruin of all dreams.

    It’s always uplifting to know that others feel the same way as I do about writing.

  • Margaret Oct 12, 2013 @ 21:34

    Happy birthday Holly
    Thank you for your thoughts expressed in the creed. I’m borrowing Kathryn Kistner’s present tense version – I can feel the difference when I say them that way.

  • Ravelyn Oct 10, 2013 @ 13:13

    Absolutely lovely reflection!

  • Karen Guyler Oct 10, 2013 @ 12:50

    That is awesome, I really love it! And in a wonderful example of synchronicity I blogged about the power of words this week too – am delighted to be on your wavelength, Holly, as you are always so inspiring πŸ™‚

  • Sallie Yonce Oct 9, 2013 @ 20:53

    Happy Birthday!
    Love the creed.
    I would add: This year I will find new friends, new people to love, in the pages I write.

  • Teresa Meherg Oct 9, 2013 @ 19:21

    Belated happy birthday, fellow Libran (sp?).
    Thank you for sharing, inspiring, and developing writing courses that are worth far more than the price of admission. I once heard, “The quality of our communication determines the quality of our life,” from Tony Robbins.
    “Words matter” is so much easier to remember.
    Congrats!
    Teresa

  • Cassie Witt Oct 9, 2013 @ 18:26

    Happy belated Birthday, Holly.

    That was an awesome and awe-inspiring post. It’s just what I needed to remind me that I can write everyday. Even if I only have five extra minutes, I can find time to write.

    Thanks so much and I hope you have a wobderful year writing and selling things you love.

  • TR Larson Oct 9, 2013 @ 17:18

    Happy Birthday Holly.

    I love the Creed. Please don’t change a thing. As always, great post. Thank You.

  • Juneta Key Oct 9, 2013 @ 17:03

    HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY HOLLY.

    Its a great creed. I’ve already posted it on my desk top in the first person.

  • Doug Glassford Oct 9, 2013 @ 16:02

    Eloquent. Elegant. And, as always… heartfelt. Bravo, and belated Happy Birthday, Holly. You are the best… I would say don’t ever change but you are ever changing and growing and helping others to do the same, including myself. So, keep on keepin’ on and may favor and wisdom guide your path always.

  • Maureen Larter Oct 9, 2013 @ 15:13

    Happy Birthday! Love what you had to say. I write because I’m old!! HaHa – no – really! I wanted to keep my brain functioning – and give myself a challenge. Of course, if people like what I do and buy my books and I get a monetary reward – I’m thrilled. BUT – the desire to write outweighs all that. I’ve even given myself the NaNoWriMo challenge this year!

  • Julie Henney Oct 9, 2013 @ 14:53

    Belated Happy Birthday, Holly.

    I’ve been in HTTS since August and have purchased several of your other courses. This whole post is spectacular and full of what I’ve come to respect about you and expect from youβ€”insight, integrity, respect, courage and honesty. I recently had my first book accepted for publication (self publishing didn’t seem right for me) and on “bad writing days” I know I can pull up one of your posts or lessons for great technical advice but also for reassurance that I’m not crazy for wanting to write and not alone in my struggles to put words to paper. I’m so grateful you do what you do and grateful to have found your courses. Thanks for making a difference in my life.

  • Cheryl Oct 9, 2013 @ 14:50

    I love it. You’ve summed us up exactly. Although, I think I prefer “I am” to “I will”. It’s speaking what you want into the present… and that seems to outsmart my subconscious more often than not!

    Happy Birthday! I used to hate having birthdays and then I got metastatic cancer and now I love them with all my heart!! It really changes your outlook. ha ha

  • Deb Salisbury Oct 9, 2013 @ 14:00

    Belated happy birthday, Holly! I love the creed, and will do my best to follow it. One non-fiction work down this year, and another to go out into the world soon. πŸ™‚

  • Becca Oct 9, 2013 @ 13:28

    Happy Birthday!
    And I think that is a fantastic creed!

  • Maureen Morley Oct 9, 2013 @ 13:15

    Holly,
    Happy Birthday!
    Love the creed it is simple and says what I am striving for.
    Thank you for all your time spent helping and inspiring all you do.

  • Angela Oct 9, 2013 @ 13:14

    Holly,

    Belated Happpppyyyyyy Birthday to you!!!

    I’m not yet doing HTTS although I plan to start as soon as possible but every time I visit the Family forum sections I am a part of, I feel immediately uplifted and ‘at home’.

    I’m finding that if I don’t visit during a given day, I miss not checking in.

    And I’m fairly brand new… πŸ˜‰

    Thank You so much for staking out an online home for your Family of writers. I love the creed and since ‘I Am’ are two of the most powerful words when used together, I too prefer the present tense.

    Thanks again, Holly and have FUN creating all you choose during your brand New Year.

  • Sonia Rao Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:48

    Belated Happy Birthday, Holly. Thank you, too, for the creed. Hope to follow it with dedication, this year.:)

  • Angie Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:35

    “allies to share this journey with” – that’s exactly what I find every time I log into the forum.
    Thank you for doing what you do Holly, it makes a lot of difference to the rest of us.
    Happy Birthday! πŸ™‚

    • Holly Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:40

      That’s what I love about the Boot Camp folks. They’re in there learning, and helping each other do better at the same time. I love being there.

  • Jodie Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:34

    The creed is great!

  • Yolanda Washington Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:30

    First off, Happy Belated BIRTHDAY. Mine is today.

    I love the creed. It was what I needed as I am struggling with a story that quite frankly, I don’t love. So instead of forcing it, I’m going to write one that makes me giddy as a school girl. Thank you for all you do to encourage and teach us.

    • Holly Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:38

      Happy Birthday to you, too. πŸ˜€
      And happy writing. The thing you love to write is WORTH fighting for.

    • Kathryn Kistner Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:42

      And happy birthday to you, too, Yolanda!

    • Sonia Rao Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:51

      Happy Birthday, Yolanda. Wishing for you a fab one.:)

  • Kathryn Kistner Oct 9, 2013 @ 11:53

    Happy Birthday, Holly. I’m right behind you next week.

    I like your list.

    I have been such a procrastinator in the past that the “I will” part puts it into my future… and I can see myself trying to meet my goal the last week of the year; too little, too late.

    My personal preference would be to put it in present time, and make the verbs active.

    This year, I AM writing a story I love.

    This year, I AM connecting with the readers who [do] love it too.

    This year, I AM being paid for my creation by the people to whom it matters.

    This year, I AM living my dream.

    THAT, I can get behind. It feels more urgent… a good thing for me.

    • Yolanda Washington Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:33

      Kathryn happy early Birthday. And I love putting the creed in the present tense. That is how I’m going to type it up and post. Well met.

      • Kathryn Kistner Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:41

        Awww, thanks, Yolanda, for the birthday greeting. You’re the first… even ahead of my insurance agent. LOL!

        Glad you like the urgency of present time. Thanks.

    • Kathryn Kistner Oct 10, 2013 @ 19:03

      I’m (already) rethinking the one about being paid…

      This year, I AM RECEIVING MONEY for my creations by the people to whom it matters.

      Why am I being so specific? …Because if they pay me in MONEY, I can pay bills.

      If they pay me in love, or zucchini, or comments on my blog… it’s nice, but it doesn’t pay bills. πŸ˜‰

  • Werner Oct 9, 2013 @ 11:51

    First, belated Happy Birthday Holly!

    Secondly, thank you for putting out the Welcome mat and making us feel at Home here. As always you inspire all of us writer’s.

  • Meranda Oct 9, 2013 @ 11:14

    Happy Birthday Holly! I love the creed.

  • Leonard Kienzle Oct 9, 2013 @ 11:05

    Wow! It is already our creed… OOOH RAH!!

  • Anna Oct 9, 2013 @ 11:02

    Holly, you are a wonder: focused, able, generous. My current project is nonfiction and requires much historical research—nevertheless, every point of the creed is true for me. Thank you.

  • Aimee Oct 9, 2013 @ 10:51

    That post gave me shivers, Holly! It sums up why I keep coming back to you and your site. The support I find both from you and the other writers sticks with me and helps me evict the doubting voices that try to take up residence in my head. I love the creed and can’t think of anything better to add to it. Happy Birthday!

  • Debi_1789 Oct 9, 2013 @ 10:50

    This is the exact epiphany I’ve been circling these last few months- That getting paid to do something I love by people who love it is not just right and possible, but possible *now*.

    This Year.

  • Katharina Gerlach Oct 9, 2013 @ 10:47

    Happy birthday Holly (late as ususal πŸ˜‰ )

    The creed is perfect for me. I’m trying already (and earning a little money but not yet enough for hubby to quit working).

    • Aimee Oct 10, 2013 @ 5:52

      I have that goal, too, Katharina! Good luck with that πŸ™‚

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