Here it sits. My current "life on paper".
I looked at this little pile today, and the weariness hit me again. The whole someone-please-tell-me-again-why-I-do-this-thing.
You know I must be desperate if I've resorted to scissors and tape. I needed something tactile, I think. Something to give this mess of a first draft a tangible nature that might--just might--help me to sort it all out.
But, oh. I'm tired.
This isn't a whine. This isn't an oh-please-feel-as-sorry-for-me-as-you-possibly-can crowdsourcing effort.
This is reality.
I mean, seriously. Why?
And it's a hard one to answer, isn't it? Because we can't lump writing up there with the basics. You know--air, water, shelter, food. Those are the things you NEED to survive.
I've got all that, too.
So, where does the writing fit in?
Forgets to breath.
Loses its joy.
I've got that. But writing isn't my only creative outlet. I'm a musician. I take ballet classes. I have a background in theatre (and even today, the world is my stage). Heck, I even scrapbook.
So it's not like I'm going to stab myself with my purple pen if I never write again.
But it remains true that, if I don't write on a given day, I feel irritated. Like the day is somehow unfinished. And I have to ask myself--is this because of my undying need to create? Or is it because of my long-held, firmly-entrenched career goals as a writer?
I think it's the latter.
And, guys, I've been doing this for a long time. I watch saplings sprout and grow into orchards around me while I still wait for my first blooms to ripen into fruit. I keep tabs on all the lovely authors who have made their way into the ranks of the published via their involvement with this blog. I cheer them and I support them and I'm ever so grateful to have been part of their journeys.
But I'm weary.
Just the other day, I was expressing my frustration to someone very dear to me. And he said, very matter-of-factly, "Maybe it isn't meant to be."
Huh. That's not what I wanted to hear. Because that's not what I've believed for the past decade of my life.
I have been all HOPE (in between the despair) and CONFIDENCE (in between the abject insecurities) and DETERMINATION (in between the planning-to-quit) and BIG, BIG DREAMS. How can this be "not meant to be"? How can I have been so wrong about the goals I've set for myself? About my absolute certainty that I am finally on the right path?
But then, this very-dear-person-in-my-life tends to see things black and white. Tends to be a bit of an Eeyore. So I know I need to take his response with a healthy grain of salt (possibly from the rim of a Margarita glass).
Still. His words sort of burrowed inside my soul, and now they keep nudging me.
What if it isn't meant to be?
Meant to be?
Meant to be?
But I can't let that be my mantra. I've got a story begging to be told well, and I'm determined to do it. And I've got an already-told story with which I'm deeply in love, and for which I am still hopeful that the T will become an S.
So, this weariness? I'm going to have to ignore it. Shove it aside. Not give it the attention it's crying for.
That doesn't mean it's going to go away. It is what it is. And I am what I am--a weary author who really doesn't know why she keeps pressing on.
Yet here I go, diving into THIS:
Sometimes we've just got to be honest, yes? And in this honesty, we are able to support and encourage each other on a deeper level.
I'm weary, but I still support you. I'm weary, but I'm not quitting. I'm weary, but I promise to tell you when (if) the day comes on which I finally have to say good-bye to all this.
And you? Allow yourself to feel everything you need to feel. Then keep writing. Keep writing and keep believing and keep learning and keep on keeping on until you know BEYOND A DOUBT that your weariness will consume you if you take one more step.
Onward, dear ones.
I'm currently gutting and totally rewriting a manuscript. I thought it was close to done and long story, it's not. The plot has changed. A few characters died literary deaths. In my mind, I have a targeted publishing house where this story will fit. I'm trying to stay focused.ReplyDelete
Keep fighting the good fight for your creativity!
Recently, I thought of a popular writer blogger I followed 4 years ago when I was a newbie to this whole writing for publication thing. Her blogs are gone. I found her on twitter and all her posts are about her fitness business and being a mom. She's still as energetic as ever, and I enjoyed catching up with her. But her writing world has all but disappeared. Not everyone sticks with it. Maybe writing for publication isn't for everyone. These are those hard times where those thoughts come up. I totally get that moving on can feel like failure. It's up to each person what they are willing to sacrifice and what keeps them driven. No one size fits all for everyone, which is helpful for me to remember.
It always feels strange to me when someone I identified with as a writer moves on. It happens, I know. Not everyone is going to "fight the good fight".Delete
All best on your gutting and rewriting!
First, I really love your scrap-booking-toward-revised-plot photos! It reminds me of the time I wrote out all of my scene titles on little bits of paper and taped them to 5 different 'plot threads' (pieces of yarn) so I could re-organize them and still keep the timing all straight. Yours looks rather tidier, though.ReplyDelete
And I say: keep on keeping-on as long as you know writing is something you need. For myself, my life is way too busy and full of other things for me to consider the idea of trying to get my writing published. But I'm still working on my books (and yay! I just *finally* finished revising my first one after many years of work), and it's not just because I have to create things, which I do and, really, the need to create *other* things slows down my writing. The main reason I'm sticking to it right now, despite the fact that my writing is going **sloooowww**, is because the stories in my head are a big part of *me* that *only* exist in my head unless I can manage to get them on paper and get them told well, so that I can share them and those otherwise-hidden pieces of *me* with others. Right now that sharing is limited to one book and barely more than a handful of readers, but those readers are my friends and family and so it's a good enough start for now. I love my day-job and I love my family, but I want to able to put more into the world than what those two non-writing things allow.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us and for giving us this community.
I've got to say--the word play on your "plot threads" is astounding. :)Delete
You've got a great attitude! Thanks for sharing, and also for your encouragement.
So sorry that you are having one of those days! But before you question your place in the publishing world, please remember that you host one of America's most influential blogs for writers. You!
You have a daily impact on a generation of authors, helping them link up with agents, helping them critique their work, and being a supportive web presence.
So when the writing of your own WIP seems slow, remember that a choir of your friends and followers are cheering you on. On behalf of the other readers, let me take your hand and give you a tug back up on your feet.
Thank you so much. I have felt the tug and am back on my feet. As I knew I would be if I came here to reconnect! :)Delete
Oh man. It almost makes me cry to read this. Take that back, I held back some tears.ReplyDelete
It is a wild and sad and beautiful journey, and so tiring, no?
You said once somewhere on this blog that you refuse to make writing be who you are. Like it's not allowed to be a controlling factor in your life. You control it. And reading this post, it's like you're fighting to say it's not necessary, not a need, not right that it makes you irritated to skip it, even. To find where it fits and why it makes you feel like this. Like you're afraid of being addicted to it?
But what if writing is what you are? What if birds sing, not so anyone can hear them, but because they have to sing and that is what they do and that is what they're meant to do and that is what they are, little songs wrapped up in feathers and wings?
Male parakeets in love--the little guys mate for life--will often wait to sing their prettiest songs until their mate is away, or asleep, and they are alone. It's funny because we associate birdsongs with a purpose. But the song is the purpose.
Someone told me the other day, about the Puerto Rican rainforest near where I live, "isn't it funny to think about all those animal sounds--the pretty singing frogs and the birds and everything--it's all just about sex? They're all just doing it to breed?" And my reply was, "how do you know they're not just breeding to make sure those sounds carry on?"
Maybe writing isn't a career choice. Maybe it's not something you start or quit or do professionally or unprofessionally or use to express your creative outlet like ballet or any of that. Maybe it's your birdsong.
I don't know if that means anything to you. Something weird happened to me a few weeks ago. I was wrestling some tangled-woods revisions with no idea what direction to take, and at the same time very kind SFWA pro was wrangling me through what was essentially brain bootcamp and mental revision to redefine my entire writing process forever, and at some point in the middle of one long night something clicked, or broke, or something. I suddenly let go? I stopped fighting something. I no longer care if there's balance in my life. I don't mind if writing ends up taking over. I don't mind if I don't sleep, or if it becomes who I am, and I also don't care if I get published or not. I'm going to make something beautiful. It's going to be so beautiful and perfect, well-revised and honed and tight and gorgeous, and then I'm going to read it and put it away and do it again. And again. And that's going to be the rest of my life forever. A happy Sisyphus who loves the stone.
Outside, I think nothing's changed. I'm still working on the same professional goals, with publishing in my future and med school on the side. I haven't suddenly devolved into a furry space-ape clinging to the ceiling and bleeding runes onto the tile floor screaming "art art I'm making art stop judging me." But inside I feel better. This is my birdsong. I do it because that is what little birds do when they are alone and in love. That is where it fits in. Maybe I've snapped and gone crazy. But it sure is nice.
I dunno that's a lot of blablabla. I thought I'd share because some of the things you've said about your journey have resonated with some of that in tiny ways. I hope you feel better soon, and whatever you decide to do--whether you keep writing, or put it away, or put it in a boxed part of your life, or decide to suddenly start putting paint on your ballerina shoes and writing stories across the wooden floor in cursive as avant-garde flash fiction--whatever you do, here, here is a hug for you.
>!< (It is there between the little paws, under the exclamation point. I am bad at writing internet hugs.)
That was beautiful, Petre. And just what I didn't know I needed to hear today.Delete
This is beautiful and I'm going to include it in Friday Fricassee so that more people can read it.Delete
You're a treasure and I'm glad you're part of this community. Thanks for always been so very, very supportive. :)
My first book, I had the entire living room covered with individual sheets of paper, and was snipping pieces out of one part of my final scenes and taping them into others, trying not to rip anything as I danced around in my stocking feet. Verbal storyboarding, you could call it.ReplyDelete
Whatever works is good technique. Keep on plugging.
You danced? Hmm. Maybe I should be dancing... ;)Delete
I know this feeling all too well of late. I AM among the published, but the published who haven't made enough to cover much more than the expenses of being published.ReplyDelete
There are days I wonder why the hell I'm bothering. I'd make more working at Home Depot. But then I sit down and do it again.
I actually took almost all of last week off. Family ski trip doesn't really leave time for working and then I had a day and a half before I left for a con where I didn't want to even look at my laptop. (Actually I wanted to look on the plane, but I was next to a talker...) The day in between, I peeked at edits, but that was it.
Yesterday was my first day home...and I edited 70 pages. I'm not sure if the edits were easy or if I am finally re-charged again. (I don't feel like it's the latter, but I'm not sure it was the former either.) And once I turn in these edits, I can get back to the heavily emotional and violent (but not romantic) book of my heart. That's my carrot. It may never sell, but this one I'm writing just for me. And right now, I think that's enough to keep me going. At least I hope it is.
I think you have the chutzpah you need--at least, it certainly sounds like you do. All best on your "carrot" (and I'm sure that's where your writerly heartbeat is!).Delete
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Go and live your dreams even if no one sees your work, do it for you because you can and because you don't want to be the person that says, "I wish I would've kept writing." But if it's too weary for you to continue, it's okay to stop and do something else. No one needs to feel like a failure because whatever they gave their all to didn't work out. Write because you have to, because it brings you joy not because you think you have to. Every time I sit down at my laptop and open up my latest story, whether I'm writing or editing, a tiny piece of me is thrilled I can do this and love bringing my stories out. So go, do. Create and find the joy you once had, it's there somewhere.ReplyDelete
You're absolutely right. The angst of longing to move forward, to reach those long-set goals, can, after a while, suck the joy out of the basic act of writing. And that's where the life is--in the writing. Not in all the other "stuff".Delete
So, yes. And thank you.
I took a Break from writing fu forr two years once. I thought I was done with it forever. But then I came back. And while sometimes I regret the time lost, think about how much further along I'd be if I hadn't taken those two years, I don't think I'd be the writer I am today without them.ReplyDelete
No matter how weary you get, you always go back to writing. Which tells me that words call to you and demand to be put on paper. Petra Pan said everything so perfectly. So, JUST DO, because you can, because words demand to be written, and because you can. No one will tell your story the way you will, because it's YOUR story. Just because your first MS hasn't been published yet, does not mean you are not worthy of writing those fantastic words. Your agent saw something in your writing, which means you ARE a talented writer. Don't forget that. Not everyone gets to point A directly from B. Some take the route of F stopping by E, D, C, & B. Heck some start and freaking Z! But what is important is you get there.ReplyDelete
What you have to decide is where exactly THERE is to be. Is it seeing your MS in print? Is it simply to see a project finished and knowing you wrote THE END. Is it helping others succeed? (Because you do plenty of that too, yunno.) Is it dancing? Is it....(you get the idea). Do what makes you feel complete. If you can't imagine a world without writing, then don't stop. Do it because you love it, not because it's a job.
And Miss Authoress, here's one more thought. If you long to see something in print, my dear, you have a great following. Write a novella, something that thrills you and self pub under the pseudonym you've already taken. AUTHORESS. I only suggest this because it might relieve some tension you've allowed yourself to build over not being published yet. I for one would buy whatever you created, because you are fantastic:-)
And while I'm at it, I'll go back to how you help others succeed. Ever thought about being and agent or an editor? You love words, so maybe you can find fulfillment in one of these careers too. I know several agents and editors who also have published books. So you CAN be a writer and a finder of other wordy gems:-)
Keep creating...no matter what that ends up being. Art, in any form, can complete you.
Thank you so much for this. Truly. I do often remind myself how I have been blessed to be able to speak into the lives of so many other writers, many of whom have found publishing success as a direct or indirect result of participating on this blog. This is no small thing, and it is both humbling and deeply satisfying. If I can keep a perspective of thankfulness for my role here, then life is certainly sunnier!Delete
I have considered self-publishing something, as you suggested. But I only have so much time and energy to put into my work, and my focus continues to be the YA novels I've been pouring my soul into. Trust me--if I have a lightning bolt moment, I'll write a novella and sell it myself. :)
Thank you so much for this thoughtful and encouraging post.
Oh, Authoress Daughter, it was so good to read all those great things about you & how you're helping others with their writing!!! You are a busy person & maybe you need to take a break but only you can make that decision. I'll always support whatever decision you make!! XOReplyDelete
You are THE BEST MOM EVER! <3 <3 <3 <3Delete
I HEAR YOU.ReplyDelete
And I love the storyboarding. Perhaps I should try that.
Hang in there. You've done wonderful things for the writing community here.
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I tried storyboarding once. I laid my story out like a patient on an operating table and fiddled with it until it died. Now I keep everything between my ears and listen carefully while I clean the cooker and pack the fridge. While I ferry food and cheer at football matches. When the beautiful but delicate first draft is done I let it rest. I leave it to get stronger while I try for a family picnic, or a trip to the beach with cold beer and sun.ReplyDelete
When it calls me back I ignore it. Until (I tell myself) I have forgotten it. Then I gently shake it to see what life is left. To see what surgery is needed. And, before you can say 'it's nearly Christmas' a year has passed and the story sits up and smiles.
Living and writing - I want both.
I got so carried away...I forgot to thank you! Sorry. And to say that I think your writing is exceptional. Having only recently discovered your blog, I shall never miss a post. All power to you, Miss Snark.ReplyDelete
What you've said is so relatable. It's wonderful that you've found some way to push forward. Doing something is definitely better than staring at screen for hours or looking at Twitter and seeing everyone else's pub date announcements. Keep your work as your distraction and move your goal to whatever it needs to be for that day.ReplyDelete
If it helps I binned 70,000 words of my last manuscript. I feel your pain with the weariness and the watching other authors turn up and speed past you. But that's what being an author is. That dogged refusal to give up. That continuing on. As someone who writes more slowly than glaciers move I salute you.ReplyDelete
I often find that I don't understand the "goal" as a narrow end result. I don't sing because Pharrel is going to make me a superstar. I sing because the song is in me. Just as you dance because the dance is in you. We write because the stories leap to our throats and must find their way to reality.ReplyDelete
For me, the "goal" is the writing. Yes, I'd love to be published and I'm working on that as hard as I can. The goal is singing the song -- publishing is American Idol. Being too old, too sick, too stubborn to appear on American Idol will never make me stop singing. Being rejected for (insert reason) is not going to make me stop writing.
Perhaps it's me. Perhaps my world is upside down. All I know is that I'm going to make my story the Chateaubriand of stories. Clean my plate, polish it off, and maybe I'll get Publishing for dessert.
But the goal remains the same -- the story must be told.
I understand weariness. I understand getting up every day wondering how on earth I'll find my way through the pain today. And, yes, every once in awhile I give in. I lay in bed and wallow in it. But I. will. not. let. it. win.
Because the story still needs to be told.
But, whatever the pain (physical or metaphysical) is, know this is one reality: how much you are appreciated by your peers and almost-peers, for the inspiration and guidance you share every day.
You got me off my butt with the first contest I entered, made me see that it is possible to have my dinner and (maybe) dessert, too, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.