Tuesday, December 06, 2011

My Writing U-Turn

I’ve been debating what to write for days now—thinking about it for months. Five years ago I decided to move from non-fiction to fiction. I wanted to write a novel. I was not involved with any writing groups, or had attended any conferences or used any social media.

But as time went on, I began to connect with other writers. As months and years passed, I wrote novel after novel, garnishing maybe a partial or full request. I actively participated in every way I could in the writer’s world. Soon, the writers I began bonding with were being offered representation and book deals. Their success pushed me to continue in my own quest.

Someday, I told myself.

More and more, the quest became about the ability to pump out a book as fast as I could and send it in.

It’s no wonder I’m where I am today.

Overwhelmed. Let down. Discouraged. Ready  to call it a day.

This is totally not me. And therein lies the problem.

I have allowed myself to join in the rush to the altar of publishing so deeply that I have lost my way. The joy I once felt about writing has disappeared. I don’t even have anything worthwhile to blog about writing. And that part frustrates me.

What does this mean? For one thing, it means the book I’m currently editing might take awhile. Then I will reevaluate what I’ve done to my goals before I do anything else.

When I think back to the first book I ever wrote and the excitement that came with it—I want to cry. I didn’t have a clue how hard it is to write a good novel back then. I just had a story burning to be told.

So today I’m telling this story. Someone once said Life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey

I’m going back to the beginning to find that joy. How about you? Have you ever had to stop to do a U Turn in life?

48 comments:

Amie Borst said...

terri - you speak words from my heart! i know those feelings so well. whatever you decide about your writing career, i hope you never stop blogging. your posts inspire me so much and remind me that i'm not alone.

Karen Lange said...

Yes, I have. Feeling a little burnt out in some areas of writing and life and am focusing on seeking God for the answers. Looking, like you, to enjoy the journey more. :)

Rhonda Schrock said...

I've not been doing it as long as you have, Terri, and I'm not writing novels, but I pray blessing over you in this season of reevaluating and getting back to basics.

Just ran across this verse this morning: "He will lead the blind by ways they have not known, and along unfamiliar paths, He will guide them."

That's my prayer for you, friend.

Valora said...

I've done much the same. I now use my writing skills to promote hope while I help others lose the weight like I did! Amazing how God leads you in a new direction sometimes. Just follow Him and you won't go the wrong direction. It's so simple, yet sometimes we get off track and must have quiet times to re-evaluate which direction we must take....Enjoy the inspiration to do great things Terri.
God Bless!
Valora

Rachna Chhabria said...

Terri, you are echoing the words that I am currently repeating to myself. We two sure are undergoing the same feelings.

Jan Cline said...

Well, you were my first writing mentor and you can take pride in knowing that you have helped many new writers to start their own journey. I have struggled with distractions that keep me from writing and have lost my way several times. Wouldn't it be easier if we were like Hemingway or Dickens or Austen, whose passion for writing drove them daily? They didn't get caught up in the race for publication like we do. We must find our answer to balance and ego. You will. I will.
Thanks Terri,
Jan

Rita Garcia said...

(((Terri))) Sweet friend you spoke straight to my heart. Wow, did I need this today! Hugs! Praying for you as you return to the joy of writing!

Loree Huebner said...

Oh my gosh, how awesome! I'm right there with you, Terri! In a sense, I'm going back to the beginning too. For the first time in a very long time (as with my first novel when I didn't know any better)I'm feeling the joy of writing. Yessssss!

Carol Riggs said...

I've lost a little of that, myself!! It's so easy to get bogged down by writing and how to do it "right" that you lose sight of the magic. I don't even like to read "how to" books while I'm in the rough stages of a novel. It's really discouraging! I hope you find your writing JOY soon. :)

Keli Gwyn said...

My heart goes out to you, Terri, along with virtual hugs. May your exploration lead to a return of the joy your first stories brought you.

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Terri,
The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.
As you are led down varied paths, may you hear His voice encouraging you to the left or right. And walk in it!
You are a blessing whether your words are on a paper page or in my inbox. I'm so thankful to have connected with you. You speak truth, and my heart is blessed by your words.
I can totally identify with your feelings today, and pray that as He has you living in a new environment, the words in you will be stirred and find their way to publication.
Bless you dear cyber-friend ;D
Susan

Lin Floyd said...

many U-turns, right now I feel I'm to focus on poetry-so I am. I got discouraged after writing my books and self publishing them trying to market them. So now my focus is on writing and not worrying about marketing. That's not why I write and it's working. I have a book of poems I'm sending to a contest-first prize is they publish your book...here's hoping.

KarenG said...

Wonderful post, Terri. I just don't know what to add, other than please don't get discouraged! And U turns? Yes, many many.

Jessica R. Patch said...

Terri, I'm praying the joy bursts into your heart and explodes on the page!

I've had a few U-turns myself in life! The comments I've read are beautiful and inspiring. How awesome to have so many wonderful people in your corner, praying and cheering you on!

Carmen said...

A really heartfelt post, Terri! I haven't been able to write well for months. Life is just too busy to have to think hard about any one thing. Writing well is hard work...so I've just spent more time on my craft blog, which is a combination of two things I love; writing and creating-but I'm not as concerned about proper writing protoculs, yet can enjoy the journey.

Gina Conroy said...

Yes, many U turns! And sometimes they're just what we need to get back on track. Keep moving, Terri, and I'm sure you'll find your way!

Lynda R Young said...

It's so easy to fall into that trap of rushing to get published. Especially when people all around you are getting that golden book deal. I know, I've fallen into that trap as well. I have to regularly remind myself to slow down and enjoy the journey.

Sally said...

Well, I wrote the story that was burning to get out, sent it to a contest and the judge chewed it up. I pouted over it until another contest that offered 3 judges reviews. Sent it off and got much more constructive and encouraging reviews. I discovered tht I wrote the story I wanted to read and I'm not interested in tweaking it to someone else's story. Am I not a writer, at this time not for anybody else. Travel the road that makes you happy.

Susan Roux said...

It's so easy to get off track and find yourself lost. All outside comments and suggestions can cloud our own vision, our own sensibilities towards our subject. If you can latch on to that original passion, you'll be in a great spot. Art also has two important parts. One is "passion", your own creativity and two is "fundamentals". Focusing on just one, never works but it's a great way to hone that part. The trick is to put both together so poetically/magically that the result is spectacular.

I too am still working on that...

BECKY said...

Oh, Terri...Sure, I've done a U-Turn..and more than once or twice. I didn't even know I wanted to write until a few years ago. And it is taking me FOREVER to write my memoir. I just try to believe Que Sera Sera, and keep on going. I hope you find what works for you. And, Oh...just because some of your writing buddies are getting books published, doesn't mean they will be best sellers, ya know!

Linda O'Connell said...

Your time will come. Consider these days as grooming yourself for your major successes. All things in God's time, not ours. You are a wonderful writer. I think winter zaps my energy and writing ability.

Susan R. Mills said...

Terri--I've been feeling the same way recently. I think it's just part of the process. I need to go back and find that joy again too.

Jessica Nelson said...

Yep, all the time. And having a contract doesn't change the pain or difficulty of writing. *hugs* Take your time and do what YOU want to with your books. :-)

Stacy Henrie said...

I just love your posts, Terri. They're always so honest and uplifting.

I think that is awesome that you want to get back to finding the joy in writing. I'm with you. I want to find that place again where I lived for the story/the writing and not just for the dream of publication.

Joanne Sher said...

Absolutely praying, Terri. I may be at a similar point right now. Still exploring. Hang in there - and a SUPER post.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Terri! This is a wonderful epiphany -- let me tell you - this happens to published authors, too - the losing of the joy because of expections and pressures, etc., and soon you find yourself paralyzed.

Yes, slow down - go back to your "roots" of writing - the love and joy and sense of accomplishment it gives you.

Beth K. Vogt said...

This is my first time at your blog, Terri. I've seen your smiling face in others' comments section and thought, "I should see what she's about."
And here I discover you're about writing honestly.
And taking a needed U-turn.
I admire you and respect you for those two qualities alone.
I'll be back.

Sassy Granny ... said...

There's much about my life that's unfolded unexpectedly; some of it delightful, much of it less so. What I have learned is that the dormancies of my life aren't bad, or to be avoided. Like ground that lies fallow for a season in order for it to be replenished & readied for new crops, so too my life.

My guess is your present fallow will be your tomorrow's fertile.

Hugs,
Kathleen

Jeanette Levellie said...

Good for you that you realize you've lost the fire, and are slowing down to get it burning again. It's so easy to get caught up in the rush to the front of the pack with all the other sheep, when the Shepherd is calling us to walk beside Him in sweet fellowship.

May He lead you with tender hand and gentle voice down YOUR own path of grace,
Jen

Anonymous said...

I wish I could join you. I still have writer's block, can you believe it? I think I felt the pressure to publish and lost my way.Now I can't even blog. I've definitely lost my voice. Pray that I find it too.
--BeckyJoie

Nancy said...

That may be what I'm doing. I just know that I want my joy back, too. I sincerely hope that joy comes from all that you do now and in the future. Sounds like you have a good plan.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I'm about to write a post on a similar subject. It's a long journey, and I sometimes wonder what I was thinking when I decided to do this.

Taking a step back and re-evaluating is a good plan. I'm confident you'll get back in the groove and once again discover joy.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Abbie Taylor said...

I don't believe I've ever had to make a U turn in my writing career, but I've become blocked and have have had to change directions. About two or three years ago, I started a novel out of guilt at not being with my father when he had to have open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic. My story was about a woman who leaves her penny-pinching, self-centered husband to be with her father in Minnesota during his open heart surgery. After about seventeen or eighteen chapters, I decided to make it into a short story because I became blocked. I already have one novel under my belt, and I've just published a book of poems so I think I'm doing pretty well.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome
and
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
http://abbiescorneroftheworld.blogspot.com
http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Such an honest and real reflection, friend. After attending the last writer's conference in July, I've decided to walk away (perhaps temporarily) from my quest for traditional publishing. I received a lot of encouragement from publishers (4 took my proposal with them, even made it to the 2nd, 3rd tiers of the pub process, but no further). It's just not for me at this point.

I've let it go. It's just not that critical for me at this point in my life. I remember those beginning days of writing, thinking that it would happen for me quickly. That was about 6 years ago...

So now I keep writing as I can, and I turn my eyes in a new direction. I pray that my words will always be a ministry to others, but I've kind of given up the dream of traditional publishing. Should it happen somewhere down the road, so be it.

I wish it were easier, sister. You've certainly been diligent, hard-working, and passionate about your words... far more so than myself. Effort alone should have landed you a book contract long ago.

Love your honesty, Terri. Keep me posted along the way and as you would like.

peace~elaine

Margo Berendsen said...

I love the first drafting, and dread the revising, because I'm starting to realize how hard it is to write a PUBLISHABLE novel. I just want to write from my heart!!! But I also see the merits of a well-crafted novel, too, so I dearly want to get serious about revising. But you're right, we have to keep going back to the beginning to find the joy. Kind of like how we have to keep going back to the Bible to find our joy in Christ, too?

tariq mian said...

Turning point yes but U turn is not affordable.

I like your blog and post of course.
I am joining your site.
You are most welcome to visit my blog to join the site and comment on my recent post--but on your own convenience.

Thanks a lot.

Julie Gillies said...

Hi Terri,

Couldn't find your email address, so you might want to visit my blog. Happy news for you there! :-)

Sarah (Nikki) said...

your last sentence jumped out at me. It's something I have to remind myself of....to enjoy the journey and in His time.

Sarah (Nikki) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heidi Willis said...

I have been working on revisions for a year now, and while it gets frustrating to watch others flying by me, it's more important to me to write this book well rather than fast.

Like all things in life, it's too easy to compare ourselves and our journeys to others, and to try keeping up with them. God has his own timing for us.

Good luck finding your joy again. I'm sure you will!

Deborah said...

Your post is a good analogy for life...or at least my life. I'm making a u turn in life and in the process, I'm getting the joy back that I lost somewhere along the way. I think when we stop doing what we think we're supposed to be doing, or what others are doing and just focus on what God is calling us to do, it all falls into place.

Jackee said...

So beautiful! Yes, the joy of the journey has to be the most important element. My joy in writing is still there, but it is very different than it was with that first, carefree book I wrote.

Keep searching, Terri, you'll find it, my friend!

Amish Stories said...

I must have gone of a cliff because I've never written a book, or could i. Its a stretch for me even doing a blog with my challenged writing skills, so just look at me because it can be worse,lol. Richard

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

That's an honest and valid reflection, and the most important fact is that you want to enjoy what you are doing. Sometimes we just need to stop, and rethink. And let God guide your decision.

Merry Christmas, Terri!

Doris

Lynn said...

U-turns are now part of my regular route! Often I need to take a break and examine my heart of the 'why' I am doing what I do. Is it for popularity, prestige, to feel 'good enough?' God keeps poking me though, letting me know He is here and to quit striving already!! And that I am loved just the way I am. And you are too.

Diane said...

Merry Christmas, Terri!

Carole said...

Many times I have taken u-turns it seems but there is a lesson in every one and a good reason - the Lord is always working - this, I truly believe. And He will help you through this process just as He has helped me. I love to write and my dream would be to be able to make a living doing it - but for now, I am working as a sub para at a school, hoping he will open some doors soon:-)

Deb Shucka said...

I love how your words are so often exactly what I'm needing. I'm reading this on New Year's Day, facing a new year with no firm writing goals because I'm still grieving the loss of my last ones. You've given me a place for meditation here. Thank you.