Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The eternal question

Blame it on the moon, on the waning days of autumn, on some mystical alignment of the planets, but the past several weeks have been a wasteland for me when it comes to writing. Even a pair of reasonable successes were overshadowed by a handful of rejections (aren’t they all?). The mental saboteurs came out in force, reminding me of the miniscule chances of ever publishing a novel via traditional means, of the ever-growing slush pile that is self-published ebooks, of the lack of measurable income on the horizon for any but the most gifted and fortunate author in the sea of writers I follow on the ’net.

Why bother? echoes daily. My words fall into a black hole on the ether, or simply fill up my hard drive. My WIP languished, unable to hold my attention long enough to add to its meager word count. I searched my files for the why-I-write essays stored there, my own and others. I stumbled across a recent blog by Jonathan Allen, Shaggin’ the Muse, addressing that universal question when a quote from author Clive Barker resonated:

“I don’t find myself terribly interesting and that’s one of the reasons why I write in the mode of trying to escape from the coral that is me. The removal of the limitation that is the self into the place that is the image are things that are boundless, this is the mystical heartbeat of what I do. It’s always been that…I write out of anxiety and obsession, I write out of hope and passion. I don’t write out of stale marketing ideas because someone paid me a million bucks.”

Anxiety and obsession pretty much describes my life. But so does hope and passion. I need to focus on the latter. As the tabbed post on this blog notes, I write because I must. That is enough.

Last week, I returned to a previous novel that needs “just one more” good rewrite only to decide the potential I thought it held has faded with the summer sun. My writing group doesn’t agree, bless their ink-stained souls, and they urge me to shoulder on. That’s what we do for each other, besides pointing out overused adverbs and missing commas. We encourage and cajole and push and hector. Our weekly sessions offer not only accountability, but emotional support; for all of that, I am more than grateful.

Today I managed 750 words on the stalled WIP, including a new side story and a meshing of previously unrelated scenes.

Tomorrow, I’ll write more. And the day after that. And the day after that. Whether anyone other than my faithful writers group (and my supportive hubby) reads my words, I’ll write more.

That’s what I do. I’m a writer.


  1. What a beautiful post, sniff. I'm tearing up. All I can say is, hang in there, this happens to all of us. Write for the pure joy of it.

    Having said that, I'm also stalled on a novel, so I'm joining NaNoWriMo in a few days. Supposedly I'll have a completed novel in a month. HA! But it's worth a try.

  2. Thank you for the kind words, Nancy! As for NaNo, be sure you read my earlier post Different Paths.... I did, so can you.

  3. I'll say it again because it bears repeating, keep at your WIP edits. I personally think it's fine, but then again, we can always improve and I'm right there with you. Rock on, the word count will come and the story will be the better for it.


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