Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Scratch, Scratch

At present my thoughts on writing are not positive. For the past two weeks I have been wondering why I am doing this at all. Two novels completed and circulated; none accepted. Two or three others in progress. I am a competent writer, but I think in today's market, writing that is catchy and sarcastic, with an enormous plot engine bursting with action is what is needed. I can't do this.

My characters are standing in the wings waiting to be called on stage again. But why should I let the curtain rise if all they are going to hear are boos and hoots from the audience?

I look at the bookshelf where one of my current manuscripts sits, each chapter in a separate colored folder. If I chucked the pile it it would give me more space...for books, someone else's books, of course. Is that what I want?

And then I hear a mouse scratching in the far wall. We live in the woods and a mouse or two always slips in for the winter. Should I set a trap tonight and catch it, ending its story too, or do I ignore it, at least for now?

Scratch, scratch. That is what a writer's characters do. They join us on walks, meet us coming around the corner, or they are lying in the bed when we go to make it. They won't leave. Ridding the house of mice is easier.

So, I have to live with them, the characters, not the mice. But can I continue to commit them to paper?

I'll think about it.


  1. I hear you! The life of a writer is tough. But if the story calls, the story must be written.

  2. I have felt this SO MANY TIMES. And still, I keep typing. It will come. I think the hardest thing for a writer to learn is patience.

  3. One of the hardest parts of being a writer is dealing with rejection. But it really is, in large part, a matter of taste. We all love different music, different art -- we certainly have different politics. It's so important to find the agent, editor and audience who responds to what we write. Sometimes it just takes time.

  4. Do NOT make room on your shelf. Keep writing! As Heidi Klum says on Project Runway, One day you're in, the next you're out! You never know when the tides will turn. All books are not edgy, hip and sarcastic. I think when you start writing for someone else instead of listening to your characters you get into trouble.

  5. You have a bad case of what Nathan Bransford calls the "Am I Crazies?" That's when your first manuscript is rejected by everyone in the free world and you still suck it up and go on to write a second one. In NB's case, the second one sold.

    Jay Asher must have had a really bad case of the Am I Crazies. He had a total of ten manuscripts rejected, I believe, before he sold his 11th , 13 Reasons Why, which became an international best-seller.

    Moral of story: Be crazy, keep writing.

    [Sung to the tune of, Don't Worry, Be Happy.8-)]

  6. Ditto what everyone has said, but I'll add that luck is also needed. Being in the right place at the right time. Meeting that special agent or editor who is looking for that special manuscript that you happen to have --
    Heavy sigh. We write because we have to, not because we necessarily want to.

  7. Yes, I'm feeling the same way! I just had an editor give me a positive critique of my ms but say 'alot of viable books are not being published right now.' So now it really feels impossible. But I'll keep trying anyway. And I hope you do too!

  8. Do we only write to be published? If that's the case, then there will be a lot of people living with perpetual disappointment.

    Or do we write because we have a story to tell and feel the need to tell it? In that case, we can reach personal goals and along the way be a part of a terrific group of people - writers.

  9. Like Con Lombardo said, the market is tough right now. And sometimes it's not that first, or second, or third book written that is the first one published by an author.

  10. I've felt this way too, and encourage you to keep writing.

  11. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. :) :)