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Monday, April 9, 2012

A Writer's Struggle


            I read a blog last Friday that really resonated. Robin LaFevers wrote The Writer’s Life is Full of Second Chances (or: Abandon Despair, All Ye Who Enter Here) on Writer Unboxed (a great blog, BTW). There was one line that made such an impression I had to share it. She said, "Just as we must dance as if no one is watching, we must write as if no one is reading."

            It's about taking chances, writing that novel for yourself, writing what you love (the book of your heart), even if you believe there is no market, that no publisher will ever take a chance on it. So, why did the blog make such an impact on me? I write futuristics. Not hard science fiction, more space adventure. Not a high-volume market. But that isn’t why I felt such a connection to LaFevers’ blog post. It was the part about second chances.

            There was a time when my writing took a back seat to what was happening in my life. Still, I kept at it. Sort of. Then, writing was shoved into the trunk. I carried it around with me, thought about it, but didn’t do much. Then, writing was moved to the garage and finally stuck in the basement. Out of sight, out of mind. I had no energy left to even think about my stories. When “life” returned to normal, I had the time to write and discovered another truism—use it or lose it. I’d lost that creative spirit. The muse said bye-bye and I never noticed. (I guess she got tired of being ignored and went to inspire someone who appreciated her—like Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rolling, or the above-mentioned Robin LaFevers.)

            It took a while but my creative energy came back. I issued an e-version of Switched, finished the sequel (which will be released shortly), wrote a YA futuristic, began a detective series, and I write this blog each week. How did I persuade the muse to return? I told myself to forget the career. I remembered the fun I had writing stories with my best friend in high school. We only shared them with each other. No turning them in for a grade in English class, no sending them to a magazine editor for publication. We wrote because it was fun. So that’s what I did to rediscover my spirit. I wrote for myself. It was very liberating. The enjoyment came back.

            Throughout that difficult time, there must have been a tiny part of me that still hoped I wouldn’t be a one-book wonder. I never completely left the business. I kept up my membership in Romance Writers of America and my local chapter, but I rarely read trade magazines, ignored most of the writer loops, and pretty much went silent on the remaining ones. I hardly ever attended meetings. But when I did, I got kicks in the pants from writer friends about not giving up. Slowly, the desire to share what I wrote returned. Writing what I enjoyed was the key. That and the admonition from Galaxy Quest, “never give up, never surrender”.

            I’m reminded of another movie quote, this time from Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come.” It certainly has for Robin LaFevers with her teen assassin nun in Grave Mercy. Doesn't that premise sound intriguing? It's definitely on my to-read list.

            Time will tell if this is my second chance. In the meantime, I’m still writing. I’m still having fun.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for your inspiring post, Diane. I'm one of those people who needs second chances. (Notice the plural.)

    That's when Brainchild came to me. What fun. I never thought of a market for it when I began it. But now there's steampunk. And the best thing is, I'm writing it for the pleasure of it.

    All the best, Annette

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    1. Annette, I have always loved the premise of BC. I hope this continues to be a project you enjoy.

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  2. This post really hits home Diane, because I've experienced all those feelings and still do. This last week alone left me with three rejections and I wonder why do I do this to myself? Why keep trying when it nothing much will ever come of it?
    But reading your post about the happiness we get from creating our so-called story people is exactly why we keep doing it. It is fun. And these days, that in itself is a reason to write.
    I'm so glad you didn't pack it away and forget about how much you love writing.
    Thank you so much for such a great post!

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    1. Teresa, condolences on the rejections. Yes, they hurt. I hope you keep the happiness of creating characters and enjoy their adventures. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  3. Another very good post, Diane! I got a little teary-eyed, actually. I feel like I am in that "stuck" place and I am struggling to dig out of it.

    I think what both you and Robin are saying is the key to problem for me. I have hit the place where it isn't "fun" right now. It's just one more thing I have to add to my already full to-do list. I'm certainly not the first person who has to work it in around work and family and i won't be the last. I just have to find the right combination for me. The fact that I am far too easily distracted doesn't help.

    Perhaps if I take the pressure out of the mix, and just start writing to escape, for fun, as you say, it might flow for me again.

    Thanks for the post.

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    1. Everything in its time. As I found out, there's a time when family and "life" itself takes precedence. Don't we always put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else could? I hope you find the enjoyment again.

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  4. You keep writing and have fun, Diane! That's what it's all about! Wonderful post!

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  5. Good message. For me I found a similar situation with my paintings. When I started writing, I stopped painting. When I decided to take an art class a few years ago, I realized I'd lost what little talent I had. Since then I've been in a re-learning stage.

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