Thursday, October 20, 2011

Turning Point

Had any of these thoughts?

What if I'm not good enough?

What if I never make it?

What if I'm wasting my time doing this?

When I started out to become a writer, I never imagined what it would cost. Writing takes time, it takes dedication, it takes passion. It's a serious emotional risk. When the words don't turn out the way I want, it hurts. And like a skater who slips while trying for that triple-toe, I have to pick my bruised self up and try again.

But sometimes I really want to sit there on the ice and cry.

I got that way last week, while stuck for two whole days on a single piece of dialog. No way was it working no how, and I suspected it was because I'd taken a horrible wrong turn somewhere in the story, and that meant I'd need to back up and start over. It was like the ice broke and I fell through into that dark, freezing current that constantly drags beneath my false sense of the solid.

Submerged in cold gloom, I went through the motions of the day, questioning all my writing goals and dreams. What proof do I have that any of this effort will ever pay off? None! Wouldn't I be happier without driving myself to distraction over nothing more than several thousand words strung together by my overactive imagination?

And then one fierce, hot spark sprang up inside me. I don't care how "good" I am. I don't care if I "make it" or not. I chose to do this, and I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it because I love it!

The moment I thought that, all the bad feeling melted away.

Writing is never a waste of time, so long as I'm always reaching higher, pushing myself, learning new things. What wastes time is worrying about what will come of it. With all the changes in publishing in the past year, I can't begin to guess the future lives of my stories. All I can do is make them the very best I can, then see what happens.

That's exactly what I'm going to do.


  1. Go you!!! And ... that fierce thing inside you that rebels against the idea of quitting? That's the thing you should listen to. I remember getting Angry with a capital A (and I don't do ANGER; I do passion, but not ANGER) one day (this was a while ago) when I thought about the idea of someone telling me I should quit. The person that was saying that to me? ME.


  2. Do I ever have those questions? Yup. All the time. Especially lately. It's like dancing on the blade of a knife. Sometimes you get cut. But is the dance worth the blood and maiming? Sometimes I know it is, other times I just want to crawl away dragging still-twitching dreams behind me. But the music keeps playing, and one can only plug their ears and quiet their feet so long, right?

  3. I think the number one thing a writer has to have besides passion is stubbornness. Who gets published? People who show up day after day, get better, and never give up. That's the cold, hard truth. And, boy, am I thankful for them. I'd shrivel up without good books to read! Hopefully, one day I'll write one. Keep on going, Rebecca! You're a hair away.

  4. Thanks, Sue. It's amazing how persistent the little voice of doubt can be. I'm grateful to every author who refused to listen to it and created one of the books I've read and loved.

    Keep dancing, Leisha. It takes a long time. When I teach ballroom dance lessons I like to tell my students how it took me five years to learn a simple thing like spinning with my hips instead of my shoulders. I kept not getting it, and then one day, WOW! I did it! It finally felt right. I could whirl around the dance floor without feeling like I was about to fall over.

    I think most people learn faster than me. But I don't give up. Ha.

    And Jonene, I am so lucky to be able to write at all! In any earlier century I probably would have been too busy washing clothes and grinding grain to even think about writing. While I can do it, I'm going to do it!

  5. Everybody gets those moments! Even after you publish a book, you worry that the new one you're working on is crap that no one will ever want to read. I'll bet there's not a writer out there that hasn't felt that way!

    And as for getting stuck -- it happens to me all the time. Sometimes it means you're approaching the scene from the wrong angle, sometimes it means you have one thing in your mind and your character really wants to do or say something else. And sometimes you have to write a crappy piece of dialogue and just come back to it in revisions, later.

    Good luck working it out, and definitely do not give up!

  6. I've felt the exact same way on several thousand occasions. But I go out and do yardwork and somehow always manage to feel better.

    Writing IS hard work. But you must persevere because without it, well, you would probably just shrivel up and die. Right?

    Keep on going for it. No one can take away your dreams except you.

  7. I did pretty much quit. I've been on a sort of sabbatical from writing for a while now.

    At first it was a relief not to feel the added pressure of working writing into my day.

    But lately, the need to write has crept back, first into my nightly dreams, and now into a daily ache.

    This has led me to believe it is either an addiction or a disease. And I am terminal. So are you.

    And that makes all your questions moot! :)

  8. Amber, your comment really made me laugh. I've felt that ache. This is definitely an addiction. Or maybe it's good medicine. I believe writing gives me enough endorphins to keep the anxiety and depression under control.

    Thanks for the advice, Anne. When I get stuck I like to bake something. It always cheers me up. Especially since by the time I'm done I usually have a new idea and I'm sure, THIS TIME, it is going to WORK!

    And Dianne, I know you're right. I don't think much will change once I have a book published. The process, which is the part I love best, will still have its wild ups and downs.

    I just hope they need writers in heaven, otherwise I'm going to be in big trouble when I die.


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