Thursday, August 27, 2015

Highs and Lows of the Writing Life

My husband snapped this picture of me with my grandson at a park in PA while on vacation in June. We're waiting in line for a ride. The guy behind us--a stranger. The way he's pictured gives me the shivers if I let my imagination run wild.

That's what I intend to do. That's what I want my books to do.

Last week was a turning point with my writing. Highs and lows. After reading the beginning of my latest work, my agent decided to shelve it.

I don't blame her now.

Her decision didn't sit so well with me at first. She said the story needed more 'sit on the edge of your seat' stuff. The opening dragged. Something every writer dreads hearing.

So I gave her the first three chapters of the story I'm writing now--suspense. She loved it.

She also took the time to show me through detailed edits how I could further improve it,

I finally got it. No more writing to impress the reader. Just write the story. Make it move. And make it a good story.

For a moment last week, in the throes of my poor me cry, I wanted to quit writing forever. Why should I waste any more time in my life creating something that ends up being worthless? I ranted and debated alone in my house, telling myself  I should just get a real job where my time meant something. If you're a writer, I'm sure you have been there. Many times. So have I.

You would think rejections would roll off me by now. They don't. They stick a little.

I finally took a deep breath and read her suggestions. It struck me by the second page what she was talking about. I needed to change my writing style if I wanted to keep a reader's interest.

So I ordered two more books on writing, plus delved into the pile of fiction I've been meaning to read. My agent not only turned me around but helped drive me to the place I should be headed.

Not every writer gets that chance.

There will be highs in writing and there will be those lows. It doesn't matter how thick our skin is or how well we think we are prepared.

Because this is writing. Can you relate?


Catherine Ensley said...

I know exactly what you're talking about. I've written for years, but I always chose working full time, which gave me the ability to live a comfortable, middle-class life, above that of being a starving artist.

To boot, I was a librarian. I saw the fate of most writers and their books on library shelves. Some people think writing will give them a bit of immortality, in that their books will live on library shelves for decades. Ain't so. No way. Many books don't make it into a library in the first place. There is only so much room on shelves.

But I did retire early to finally pursue my writing in a committed way, as though it is a (paying) career. The motivation for the pursuit has nothing whatsoever to do with money or immortality.

I just like to think up stories. I wonder how "these people" in "this situation" will fall in love and get a HEA. When I was a girl, my favorite column in Ladies Home Journal (magazine) was, "Can this marriage be saved?"

I LOVE exploring the characters' motivations. I love tweaking the craft.

But the social media stops me in my tracks. Ugh. That is enough to make me want to throw in the towel and retreat to my scrapbooking paradise and spend my time there instead.

Nikki (Sarah) said...

Boy can I relate..rejection is still hard but....I like what you said and the picture, love the way your imagination rolls...the stranger behind you. Happy Writing.

Lynn said...

Terri, I am glad you are able to flow into the disappointment and doubt, and then out again! And see the blessing in your editor's comments. Writing does scare me and I wrestle with how much time to put into something that (and other non-paying endeavors I do) may not produce fruit in the end. Yet, who am I to make that decision? I pray for clarity, for God to move me, and press on.

Saleslady371 said...

I will never understand this gift of writing. We were created to be sensitive and write from our hearts and then when it's a rejected work we are not suppose to react to it???? Not only am I learning more of the craft, I am learning more about me!

Your post is awesome as usual!
Blessings to you,

Retired English Teacher said...

It takes courage to write. You are courageous. Use the voice you have. I love reading your writing. I'm glad you have an editor with such wisdom.

Ceil said...

Hi Terri! (I think that guy behind you looks creepy...there must be a story in that somewhere!)
Rejection always hurts. I am trying to get published in magazines, and the cricket-cheeps that happen after submission are always unwelcome and sad. At least you get feedback, I think that's a real gift. Even if it's negative, it's meant to make you better.

I have always heard that a writer should be a reader, and I'm slowly learning that. I am so impressed that you decided to read more about writing and jump back into it with a new book idea. Congrats that it paid off! Hang in there and keep writing. Writers write, no matter what the day's feedback brings. And you ARE a writer.

Susan said...

Hi Terri. Sure, I've been there. Nowadays, I truly write for the pure joy of it. Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I sent my agent a new manuscript recently, but haven't heard the verdict yet. The waiting is the hard part for me.

With 3 traditionally published books and 1 published through Amazon White Glove, I know I have options. I'll write the best book I can and see where it lands.