Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Tugs You Down the Writing Path?

Let's take a moment to put it all on the table.
We're so busy. So, so busy.
We all have so much stuff every day that we have to do besides writing.
It's insane that we're writing at all, really.

Here's my stuff:
Three preschoolers to take to and pick up from school, feed, clean, clothe, etc. Every day.
A house to keep non-condemnable. (Low standards!)
A husband to look at and speak to once in awhile.
30-35 hour a week day job.
Extended family visiting 1/2 of weekends.
Theoretically, working out. (I'm hosting a fetus right now so I give myself a break till May.)
I should sleep? Probably?

Now. I'm grateful for these things. These things make up my life, one that I consider myself very lucky to lead. There could be a lot of extra, not-so-positive things thrown in the mix that I'm SO GRATEFUL are not there.

There's just one thing I know about all this. I have to fit writing in somewhere. HAVE TO.
For one simple reason - I'm a miserable beast when I don't.
(I've learned this through trial and error, and it's not pretty.)

But, especially for the unagented, it's really, crazily difficult to fit writing in. Where's our motivation? What are we really doing here, anyway? No one even wants to buy our stuff! (So it seems.) 

It's so ridiculous to spend our valuable time and energy writing something that'll never go anywhere, right? It's just a big old waste.

What business do we have tossing hot dogs and apple slices in our kids' general direction while staring at the laptop perched on the kitchen island, or depriving ourselves of sleep just to get an extra 200 words in? Who do we think we are, spending way too much money on a babysitter for two hours just to sneak in a bit more brainstorming? Or ignoring our classwork, or secretly rejoicing when our husbands announce they'll be on a boys' night out again?

Well. None, really. But if you're anything like me, you know you'll be miserable if you don't.

So, what pulls you down the path to get started? To keep going, till you've hit 75000 words (or whatever,) then to painstakingly edit, then to go through rounds and rounds of CPs/revisions/edits, then to cry over queries and synopses and rejections?

Well, for me, it's tough love, made up of equal doses of bullying and guilt, with a little flattery on the side.
Like this:
 "Stop whining and JUST WRITE."
"Here, let me spend valuable time brainstorming with you about plot/themes/worldbuilding. NOW WRITE." "You'd better write this story, because it's going to be AMAZING."

So I do.
I "just write" a kissing scene between two characters that kicks off a whole element of the story I hadn't anticipated.
I force my brain to navigate a tough bit of worldbuilding with Chessie's help, and when it's finally there staring at me, my mind is blown with how awesome and exciting it'll be to write.
I take a minute to think about my main character's arc and want to cry a little bit with how difficult things are going to be for her. I fall in love with her.

Then I realize - after just a little bit of work, NO ONE is going to be able to write this story like I can. My characters and the world are speaking to me, and now they're on the "Just Write the Darn Story" team.
And if I don't write it, no one else will ever hear them.

Then I start thinking about my CPs, and I get really grateful that they threw crackers at their kids or ignored their husbands or didn't prep for midterms or lost sleep or made their fingers ache typing that whole chapter on an iPhone during carpool. Otherwise I never would have met Kelsey and David, Emma and Alex, Amity, Damien, Rory, and Viv, Tam and Izuko (oh, Izuko,) Avery, Jack, and Stellan, Alex and Miles, Maggie and Tommy, Grey and Xan and Edward and Nathan. I would have never had their stories tug at my heartstrings and change me just a little bit forever. When I think about how those stories will be published and other people will get to know them too, I'm really, really, REALLY glad those authors kept going. Otherwise, their stories would be stuck in their heads forever, without anyone else to ever love them.

Now, that would be a waste.


  1. going to bookmark this baby. I needed these pretty words <3

  2. Yeesh, I needed this today. I've had these conversations with myself while setting up elaborate train tracks to distract my boys. There's a guilt for us writer moms, because writing is an indulgence. It's time for us to play, you know? What keeps me going is the fact that once I started writing, I couldn't keep the stories bottled anymore. Once they found a way out, there was no shoving them back inside.

    1. My four year old cried when I "had to work" for my three hours of Saturday morning writing time. I just think about what I would say to my mom today if she guiltily admitted that she spent three hours every Saturday on herself instead of playing with me. You know what I'd say? GOOD FOR YOU.

      That's what keeps me going in that particular area. :)

  3. Thanks. This was perfect for today as I feeling my story isn't any good and I just wasted my time. Thankfully me kids are in school all day. Yay! But I understand about trying to sneak time away and not feeling guilty about the whole thing.

    1. Just think: would you rather have a sparkling clean house your kids will come and mess up, or a sparkling clean chapter that NO ONE CAN GET MUD FOOTPRINTS ON??? Hmmm?


  4. Ok, your posts always give me the goosebumps, and then inspire me to drag myself up, dust the ms off and go WRITE! Thank you :)


  5. This post made me smile, it is exactly how I feel about reading :D Keep going, I know it is going to work out :D

  6. Do other people rejoice when their husbands go out with the guys, or is it just me?

  7. Oh, Izuko!

    Also, YES to EVERYTHING in this.

    1. Ohhhhhhhhhhh Izuko.

      (And you know who I love in your MS....mmmmmmmm)

  8. Confession: I haven't even looked at Word since Monday morning. I'm so disheartened by the whole process after writing that it's killed the joy of writing. The only cure? Getting back to writing and this post is encouraging me to do just that. Thanks so much for believing in my little stories :)

    1. I have to say the exact same thing to you. ANY MS could be the one. Keep going, keep going, keep going. <3

  9. I love this post so so much. Thanks for the reminder of how fun it is to create characters an get to know them. I wish I could write and write and write, and skip the whole querying bit. Which, I guess, I could...but then no one would get to know Harper, Sam, Seth, Lulu, or Keiran. And THAT would be tragic!

    1. YES IT WOULD BE. I'm excited to meet them when you send me an ARC. <3

  10. I totally agree. I'm thankful for my CPs who help me brainstorm or just talk about my book and suddenly I'm thinking about it, excited and ready to write.

  11. Great post. I really needed it today. I've been in a writing slump (read: haven'twritteninweeks) for a while now, and this was just what I needed to hear. :)