I’m trying to untangle a particularly convoluted plot point. Each time I think I’ve got it straightened out, it curls up around another plot point and clings like a strip of Velcro meeting its favorite dust bunny.
This is depressing, so I thought I’d listen to something positive to re-motivate myself. Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love) gave a TED talk on being successful, being a failure, and continuing to write regardless.
How do you deal with discouragement? I’m fond of the “give-in-and-eat-chocolate” approach, but it wouldn’t help me get this chapter thrashed out. Maybe I’ll try it afterward.
Note: this is a rather long Note To Self that I wrote. It occurred to me that there might be others out there also going through this, so I figured I might as well publish it.
It seems to me this is the best way to approach this business of making things up and writing them down. You send your stories off into the world, and if you want to remain a reasonably sane human being, you get on with writing the next thing and don’t burden yourself with visions of dollar signs dancing in your head.
Someone bought the book? Terrific. Go on with the next story.
No one bought the book today? Whatever. On with the next story.
So my resolution for today is not to worry whether my books make a splash or bellyflop. On with the next story.
I was going to write a book for Nanowrimo this year. Set up my Nano page with the book’s cover and its title. Then promptly on November 1st, I got hit with a lightning bolt of a new idea. I had to write it. The goal for Nanowrimo is to write 50,000 words of a new novel in a month. I passed that in two weeks. That’s the problem with lightning bolts: they dazzle you so you cannot see any other stories.
Now I’m in the dull part of writing. I’ve got all the scenes down on the page, but I have to put them in order and make sure they flow one to another. This part of the process takes a lot of chocolate. Especially at this time of year, when all I want is to curl up and ignore the fact that it’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.
How do you cope with this time of year? Chocolate? Chestnuts roasting on an open oven?
When you start out… you have no idea what you are doing. This is great.
People who know what they’re doing know the rules, and they know what is possible and what is impossible. You do not. And you should not…
If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do.
Actually, I think instead of just posting that quote, I should just put in the link to the whole video. If you haven’t seen the commencement address that Neil Gaiman gave at the University of Arts, I recommend watching it.
Five more days until my debut book is published. And I have no idea what I’m doing.
I’m not sure that’s the case for most writers these days. Not at first. Unless you fit into a narrow section of authors (i.e. you either write a mega best-seller the first time you sit down or you write a series of self-published books that hits everyone’s Flavor of the Month buttons at once) you’re not going to make enough money to expect to support yourself by writing, not right away. So I suspect most people write because there’s a story that needs to free itself.
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou
Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to [God]’s will. What [God] means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him—the present anxiety and suspense. It is about this that he is to say “Thy will be done”, and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided. It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross but only of the things he is afraid of.
Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practice fortitude and patience to them all in advance. For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates is almost impossible, and [God] does not greatly assist those who are trying to attain it: resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier and is usually helped by direct action.
-C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
I’m trying something new. On Fridays, I’m going to fast. An information fast, that is. I’m going to shut off the Internet and write.
I tried it last Friday. I was fairly twitchy at first. Kept reflexively moving the mouse over to the email icon or opening a web browser to look at the News or Twitter. If I had to pay myself a quarter every time I did that, I’d — well, I’d be able to buy myself more than a cup of coffee. The experience was very educational.
We spend too much time looking at “what’s going on” in the world. It starts out as a reasonable thing to do. The world changes every second, there’s always something happening, and it’s basic human instinct to want to prepare for what’s coming.
The problem is, there is always something happening, something to worry about, something to stress or plan or prepare for. I am going to try taking one day out of the week and put the daily news on pause.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Gospel of Luke, 2:11-14
I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. -Erica Jong
I am so close to finishing the second draft of Geoff and Lia’s story. So, of course, I’m dragging my feet.
Why? Because that means it’s the end of the fun part of writing for me. No more making things up and writing them down. Now I have to send it out into the cold, uncaring world. Other people are going to look at. They might point. They might snicker. They might wonder what kind of sick, demented imagination could think up such a story.
They might even want to buy it.
That is scary.
So I am going to go public. Announce to all the world, or at least as much of the world might be reading these words, that I am going to give myself a deadline. I will finish the second draft by December 20, 2016, 8:06 pm PST.
Now the pressure’s on.
I am being watched.
I used to be afraid to finish a project. Because if I finished one, I’d have to submit it. And if I submitted it, I would have to suffer through the first of what would surely be fifty rejections, because that’s what EVERY writer has to go through, right? And I wasn’t ready for that.
So I didn’t write more than twenty pages of a book. Ever. Because it kept me safe from those rejections.
And what I didn’t realize was that I was rejecting myself. I was making the decision FOR all of those editors.
I finally got the courage to write a book. And I sent it in. And HOLY COW the publisher wanted to buy it.