Friday, January 7, 2011

On Writing

I've noticed that the blog posts that elicit the most comments are usually about riding and horses. Since I really do nothing exciting with my horses in the cold weather except slog through mud and snow to care for them, I tend to be more interested in the subject of writing. And not writing. Because as most writers know and as Jami, Laura and Linda and I have discussed here before, being an author is fraught with emotional ups and downs.

I mentioned that I have been reading a book called "Unstuck." The book discusses why the creative act of writing is so difficult even for those who love it passionately. (Sort of like relationships.) I recommend it to every writer who has ever encountered block. Some of the information is repetitive, but I gained insights from each chapter. Fortunately, when the emotional blocks are overcome and the writing flows, it is an incredible feeling. Unfortunately, after that story or novel is carefully crafted and polished, it is subjected to the 'slaps in the face' that go hand in hand with publishing. Unless a writer is self-publishing, rejections by agents, editors and reviewers are a given. For me, these rejections create a different kind of writers block that is just as devastating.

My first story was published in 1984 in Highlights magazine. Since then my career has had more ups and downs than a posting trot. Why did I persevere through all the downs? I have been asked that question often. German stubbornness is one explanation. But I think "because I can NOT write" is the only explanation that makes sense since too many times, writing and publishing is like hitting myself in the head. But even after the worst downs, even after I vowed that I was through with writing, I would one day feel a kernel of an idea forming in my brain. The kernel would stick and a character would grow, and then . . .
You get the idea.
What gets you over the 'downs'? What keeps you writing? I'd love to know!

5 comments:

Terri Rocovich said...

Alison,

I feel the same way about writing. It is the reaction of others when they like something I have written and are touched by it that keeps me going. Even if it is just something little. In my current journey in writing my novel, I have wasted years being paralyized by the fear that noone will like it or that I am wasting my time. But I am now finally reaching the point where I write for me, even if it never gets published, I am doing for me. I guess I have just gotten old enough that I don't stress as much about what others think. I have a cherished inner circle of people who I care deeply about and very much value their opinions but other than that I just do what feels right for me.

Hope you are surviving the cold, it is even unusually cold in San Diego and we are of course all serious weather wimps.

Riversong said...

I can't say I've ever encountered rejection for my books, because my juvenile fiction novels aren't completed yet. I've only self published a hobby magazine otherwise. But I do get in the dumps and would rather read or watch TV than write. BIK HOK TAM (butt in chair, hands on keyboard, typing away madly) is tough, but in the end it is the only way to write. I am finding that despite my heavy daily load with normal work things, just taking the time to write, even if it is drivel and simple responses to random prompts, keeps me in the groove.
Changing locations is good too. Writing about people going about their daily business can spark all kinds of character fun like from a park bench in front of a grocery store, at a coffee shop watching conversations and interactions, etc.
Writing is work, though, like another job. I do hope you can work through the disappointment! I can't imagine the discouragement. Keep writing, though. Your blogs are awesome!

Laura Crum said...

Alison--I do understand how you feel. Like you, I am sometimes not motivated to write, and I, too, have had my books rejected. Its not fun. Like you, I shied away from either writing or attempting to get published at times. I just got discouraged. For the last fifteen or so years I've been turning out my Gail McCarthy mystery series, and there have been ups and downs but I've continued to get a contract for each new book. I have to say that the deadline on these contracts is what has kept me writing--more than anything else. Other than that, I might have just let it lapse. But having promised to deliver the book at a given time, I just make myself do it. Sometimes the writing is fun, sometimes its a drag. I find that I'm not so attached to goals as a writer any more, just as I'm not so attached to goals with my horses. Don't know whether that's good or bad.

Alison said...

Thanks Terri, Laura and Riversong for your comments!

Terri--I'm glad you reached that wonderful point where you can just write, and I am glad you are continuing as a member of EInk!

Riversong--thanks for the nice comment about my blogs. Gee, in this biz we just don't get enough nice reviews. Good luck with your writing and getting out of your own 'dumps' and writing. I do recommend the book that I mentioned. It just may give you a lift during those times you need it.

Laura--For sure you have no trouble writing--your blogs are lengthy and interesting! I hope you continue to write your mysteries with/without deadlines. And as we both know, getting older is kind of nice in a peaceful sorta way!

Linda Benson said...

More ups and downs than a posting trot. That's a great analogy, Alison - love it! Or should I say - ain't that the truth?

I'm going to look for the book "Unstuck." I hadn't heard of it before. Who is the author?

Thanks for your thoughtful posts about writing, by the way.