In Which I Bore You To Tears

I’ve been feeling very restless lately.  Not physically, mentally.

I’ve virtually (as in, on the internet, not that I’m almost) surrounded myself with all these amazing women.  Women who do what I wish I could do.  These women write and write well.  I have a bloggy friend who’s had books (yes plural) published and I have a bloggy friend who’s had articles published.  There’s a woman who I blogstalk (I don’t think she’s ever been here) who is a newspaper columnist.  I have a bloggy acquaintance (she’s been here but she’s not a regular) who writes something, I have no idea what but she mentions having writing she has to do for clients, and whose blog readers are literally begging her to write a book.  And then there’s always Jen.

Every time I come across the blog of yet another writer, I’ll admit, my initial reaction is dislike.  I see them first as competition.  It’s silly, I know.  This is the blogoshpere, it’s a written medium, it stands to reason that a high proportion of us bloggers are writers, amateur and otherwise.  And there are so many genres out there that the chances that any of them are my direct competition are pretty slim.  But I want to hate them anyway.  I’m a realist, an not entirely without mental faculty, I know that if there were fewer writers out there then my queries would get more than a cursory glance (if they’re even getting that) and someone somewhere would want to buy my book.

This isn’t about stirring up sympathy.  Honestly it’s not.  I’m trying to work through it in my own head and I’m choosing to share it.  Maybe some of you have some helpful insight.

I have all these words circling, cruising, careening around my head.  I have people, fully grown, fleshed out people with their own hopes and fears wandering around in my head and I can’t seem to get them out.  I wrote my first manuscript for several reasons.  One was simply to do it, to see if I could get all the way through a novel.  not only did I get all the way through, it was about 40,000 words too long.  Another was to get the voices out of my head.  I thought that if I just put the story they were telling me down they would go away. When you give in and give your kid the candy he’s spent the last hour begging for does he go away?  Nope, the begging just starts to come faster and louder.  And so it was.

But I don’t have time to focus.  I wrote On the Table in a month but in order to write, to really write, you have to treat writing like a job.  You can’t just decide that you don’t feel like writing today any more than you can just decide that you don’t feel like going to work.  I already have a full time job and a whole grundle of little kids running around and a home addition that I’m building.  I don’t have time for another job, even a part time one.

So I still have these words bouncing around in my head, occasionally crashing into one another in new and sometimes useful ways. I long to make use of them.  I’ve talked before about seasons, about waiting, I’ve mentioned that I blog just to keep myself in the practice of stringing sentences together and blogging’s great for that but It’s not really helping me realize my goal of getting published. I could probably write some short stories but I don’t know how to write short stories.  I think sometimes that I should write some essays but I don’t know anything about anything and I’m loathe to expose my ignorance. Ignorance being like a delicate,exotic fruit,  touch it and the bloom is gone, (I couldn’t resist, 10,000) and all.  And I’m told it’s next to impossible to break into the newspaper world, I’m not sure I would want to anyway.  But I don’t know what I do want to do.

Why now?  Why am I all the sudden so worried about it.  Three reasons.  One is biological, I’m premenstural, a fact heralded not so much by the calender as by the HUGE zit on my chin.  And that is making me a little schiztoid this month.  The second is that I just read the fourteenth book in the series that convinced me to start writing in the first place.  I won’t mention the name in the case that this isn’t viewed as complementary but it was this series, these books that I read and said to myself “I can do that, I can write something at least that good.”  It’s not that they’re not good books, I love them.  They’re funny and addictive and thoroughly entertaining.  But they’re not really plot heavy (something I have trouble with) and really, I just love them because I love the characters.  I was pretty sure I could do that.   And so I did.  Or at least I tried, I think I succeeded.

The last reason is this:  I’m afraid they’ll stop.  I’m afraid that if I don’t write something and soon, the voices will start to dwindle. That when the time comes to sit down and write about what happened after Emery and Danielle found a dead guy in Danielle’s kitchen I won’t be able to do it.  I’m afraid they’ll get tired of clamoring for attention without getting any and they’ll stop.  I guess I’ll just have to trust that the analogy above holds true because my ignoring my children has never once resulted in their giving up.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. knucchi
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 12:19:11

    girl – just write! yeah, it might be another job, but it’s a job you sound like you’d LOVE. Plus, what if this job could eventually replace your current job?(not sure if you’d want that, but..)

    As for the 14 book series – I’m pretty sure I know it and – how could you HELP but be addicted 🙂

  2. Alison @ hairlinefracture
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 14:02:53

    For me it’s a little different. I don’t have the time (really, the discipline) to write a novel with my two underfoot. The way I write fiction involves lots of staring into space and autistic-style rocking back and forth. It takes time, several crappy drafts, and plenty of obsessing. So I don’t even go there, and I currently have no characters bugging me. I’m scared that when I DO have more time (this fall, when Mr. B. enters preschool, I’ll have two mornings a week) that nothing will be there. We’ll see, I guess. Hang in there! Every writer and agent I’ve ever read says, “Query widely and don’t give up. Keep writing.”

  3. bythelbs
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 15:01:06

    Maybe you could write installments of stories on your blog–you know like a serial, like they used (maybe they still do?) to do in magazines and papers. I’d totally read them. And then I’d come back for more because it would be like a serial where you have to come back to get the rest of the story. See?

  4. Melanie J
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 08:53:52

    Well, huh.

    I’ve seen you around in other comment trails but I just now wandered around to Wonderland to explore a little more. I think I should have come by much sooner. But I’ll be back and back often. In a non-stalkerish way.

    And it seems like if you get the characters in your head out, finally, more just show up to bug you. That’s how it goes for me, anyway.

    And I’m dying to know…what’s the book series? Hm. I’m going to wander off to mull that over for a while.

  5. E
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 11:17:50

    I think it’s “all of a sudden.” (I’m totally your editor, babe.)

    And I think they will go away. Here’s why…..
    I think it’s avoidance. The busier I am with things that I really don’t want to do, the more my mind starts thinking about fabulous projects that I REALLY want to do. Hello, bracelets! (they are in the mail BTW, or maybe they already made it to Mel’s.) I started teaching Christian to knit yesterday because I was DYING to do it myself but I knew that would be ridiculous. My flower beds are not only weeded, but I have actually combed through them with a hand rake and pulled out any roots that may have remained. I’m reading and responding to blogs. So yeah, I think it’s avoidance (because of course, everyone is just like me and couldn’t possibly have a different reason for doing anything than I would have). But I don’t think that means you shouldn’t write. You’ll probably do your best work because you are so very focussed and desperate to avoid whatever it is you are trying to avoid. ooooooo, I so wish I were clever enough or knew enough Amelia Peabody to quote her right here. That would have been awesome!

  6. Sue
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 04:11:53

    Ack, I feel that way all the time. As though each time a book is published, I lose a little more of whatever imaginary shot I have. (I’m a technical writer by the way. I also do some copywriting and ghostwriting, but it’s the technical stuff that pays our bills. Nothing so glamorous as writing an actual book.)

    (By the way, I really struggle with plot too. It’s the whole reason I’ve never finished a manuscript – the plot is always too weak. I think I’m kind of good at creating characters, and I’ll laugh at them and feel for them and fall in love with them a little, but they don’t actually DO much. So I end up getting frustrated and walking away from whatever I’ve written.)

    Part of the reason I keep blogging, other than loving the compliments (I know, that’s AWFUL), is that I keep imagining this will give me a platform and will help make my query letters more appealing. I’m a little delusional, I think.

    Blogging has given me some incredibly lazy writing habits.

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