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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Roller Coaster's Descent - IWSG October 2012

For the last five weeks, I’ve been camped out on a writer’s “high.”  At the end of August, I put my head down and refused to let it up until I completed chapter-by-chapter revisions of Honeydew Ever After.  Once I finished those, I read the entire 93,000 word manuscript out loud, twice, mending a boatload of typos as well as logic and timing issues. After that, I tore apart my first two chapters, yanking out anything smacking of yawn-worthy.  Yesterday, I sent the manuscript off to one of my amazing readers, and while I have no doubt it will be returned with pounds of red ink, for the first time, I’ve contemplated the future of this thing—such that, in an attempt to rest my throat between out loud reads, I drafted a query letter—my first.  

Exciting stuff, right? Right!

But also, wrong.

Shall I describe the “what if’s” dancing around in my head?

What if I’ve spent eighteen months (so far) on a story that’s not good?

What if my writing is poor?

What if my readers are only being nice?

What if I send this thing out there and nothing happens?

Since the great bloodletting of 2009 wherein my head did not survive the corporate chopping block, I have radically reduced the challenge of my outside-of-the-home work, as well as my pay check, in order to focus on my writing.  In spite of my supportive husband and daughter, this makes me feel guilty every single day.  They have given me the gift of time to prove myself at this thing I love.   What if I don’t repay them with success? 

I know the solution to these negative thoughts is to keep writing.  I know it.  But, write what?

I've started another story, but I don’t love it the way I love Honeydew.   I contemplate researching information for it, acknowledging in this case, the time spent will act as a delay tactic because I’m not attached to the story. Will that come? How much time do I invest before I know?

Oh, how I’d love to vault back to those last waning days of summer when I threw off the covers at dawn, spooned down a bowl of oatmeal before grinding the coffee and digging into my manuscript again.  For those weeks, I weighed less, I danced more, I sang all the time. I breathed in the aura of accomplishment circling my head and let it permeate my insides.  All around me, a warm breeze of triumph brushed my skin, even when I sat far from the computer. 

Now though, exhilaration has drifted away—like a kite I let go in the wind, the small dot of a helium balloon floating far above the ocean.  I’m in a holding pattern, a little bereft, a little lost.

What if that feeling from this summer never comes back to me again?


Old Kitty said...

It will! It will!! Autumn is a time for taking stock and reflection and re-generation - all good things to keep enthusiasm bubbling and alive! Take care

Take care

Bish Denham said...

I know that feeling. And, we must remember, it's isn't about the goal, it's about the journey. If this new idea doesn't grab you, another one will. For now, I say take a break. Breathe in the fall, prepare for winter. Journal, take notes/pictures, observe and let your baby fly.

Julie Flanders said...

Hi, Liza. I discovered your blog again thanks to the IWSG and I'm so glad to have found it, what a great site you have. I agree with Old Kitty that the feeling will return! I felt the way you describe all summer and was really in a slump, but I feel like I'm getting out of it now. I'm sure Honeydew is a fantastic story and you probably just need a little time away from it to get that spark back.

Take care!

Tamara said...

Hi Liza,
This blog resonated with me SO SO much. I could've written every single word of this. I have had those same feelings SO many times. And, I'm in the same situation as you, where my husband supports me so don't have to work and can focus on my writing.

It was originally only supposed to be for a couple years, but it's been FOUR. How did it get to be four? And what if I can't get my latest book published? It makes me feel really guilty. But, at the same time, my husband says I'm not allowed to give up. He really believes in me, which helps immensely.

I wrote a second book after my first (the first was fully re-written three times, so I could, technically say a fourth book) I love the characters, but I never got AS invested in it. Maybe your first book is like your first love, no project will ever be quite the same. But, I did really enjoy huge parts of writing the new book. And, believe me, that passion and happiness will come back to you. I promise!!! I have been exactly where you are so I'm speaking from experience

I'm a new follower btw. I'm really glad I found your blog. It's nice to know someone in the same boat! Just take a deep breath and push yourself to keep writing. Eventually, the story will come alive and you'll be singing and dancing around again. :)

Tamara said...

P.S. Your follower button is broken, so I just added you to my reading list. :) Just thought you'd want to know to look into that.

Anonymous said...

The what ifs will really start getting to you. You could just use that feeling from the summer as motivation to get there again. You have done it before, you can do it again.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You have to plow on through and get into that next project. I know what you're feeling but it will pass and you'll start to love the next thing.

Johanna Garth said...

I compare leaving the novel you've just finished for a new one to moving towns. Things aren't comfortable. It takes a while to find your way around and fall in love.

Beth said...

Hi Liza, I know how you feel. I work part-time from home. (I also care for a newborn, but theoretically working part time should give me time to write). I don't always get a lot written. I have published one short story. I have made $15. Some days I feel guilty for not earning much money. But what keeps me motivated is that I know everything I do today is an investment. In ten or fifteen years, it will pay off. The way adding a few dollars a week to a savings account would. Keep writing! Good luck!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

They will! Your manuscript will come back, and yes there will be corrections and suggestions, but you'll see it again with fresh eyes and some new ideas. And you'll be excited once more.

Green Monkey said...

oh NO not the WHAT IF'S!!!

I am my worst critic. I get in my way all the time.

I thrive in summer, hibernate in winter. But that hibernation typically gives me the perfect chance to write the deep stuff. Rainy days do as well.

I'm new here. Starting from the top of the insecure list for a change.

Ella said...

I so know this feeling, but I haven't done what you have! But I do feel the guilt and I hear about it, too~ You know what you need to be proud, of what you have done!

Now, go onto another creative journey~ Yes, I'm serious~ Paint, color, scribble, go take photos, dance, write poems in chalk, climb a mountain and go fly a real kite or release a balloon with your wish! Dance in the rain, make an art journal! Find another way to create...then you will hear another story! It's in there cooking, just give it a chance to steep, grow, rise.... ;D ATB 2U

mshatch said...

Keep writing, Liz, that's what I do. I know it's hard to not to worry about what if but since the outcome is not one you can control the only thing to do is send that query off when ready, let it go, and move on to the next project. Of course, it goes without saying easier said than done...

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

No matter how much red ink your manuscript has on it when it comes back to you, allow yourself to celebrate the fact that you've made it this far. You did it! You wrote a book! You didn't just think about it or talk about it ... you DID it! And you can do it again. (RAH! RAH!)

~Sia McKye~ said...

As for your worries--I don't know of a writer that hasn't gone through variations of those worries. I think it's normal.

Lisa, while I think there are stories or ours that we love more than others, each story brings exhilaration. Each story brings it's let down when we have to leave it's world when we are finished.

I think it starts when we get into the world we are creating. That point when the world and the characters are real. It will come back, no worries. :-)


J.B. Chicoine said...

Wow, you sound just like a REAL writer! I've been through this cycles several times and each time it feels just as new and disconcerting.

You do have a handle on your writing--it's beautiful! And Honeydew IS a good solid story with great potential. It's hard not knowing 'what' will become of it, though it's just as realistic to ask, 'when'?

You are correct about the approach you need to take--Just keep writing and slogging through the unknowns. Summer will surely follow.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

Keep at it and never fear. You have a great handle on things and your doubt is just your realistic side keeping you balanced. Your ability to keep questioning yourself is what makes your stuff so good. Still there is a time for accepting that things will work out and that your stories are truly good.

Kittie Howard said...

Liza, you write like an angel. Whatever you post is creative and hits just the right cord. An agent somewhere will scan the opening pages, realize h/s's got a quality product and settle into the read. Please, please have faith in yourself. The commenter above is right: you've written a book; you're a success!

I know the endless feeling you so elegantly described and the pang felt when it disappears. But I've got a few (ha!) years on you and KNOW that the feeling returns. When? On the day you're not thinking about it, maybe when you're smiling at the first snowflakes, maybe when those cookies come out of the oven just right. Remember the song with "For every season there is a reason, turn, turn, turn?"
All will work out. Hugs!

Doreen McGettigan said...

Congratulations on getting so much done!
You are about to embark on the next step in the great journey to publication...the querying..rejection, querying, request, rejection and finally acceptance faze of the journey.
It does help during this step to be writing something new. I actually started 3 wip's while my book was in production. It took a while but one finally swam to the top.
Best of luck and I look forward to following your success!!
Are you using Query Tracker?

sjp said...

I think determination is an understatement here, congrats on your work, and summer will always return :)

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Movge upwards and onwards, I say. Get started on something new. The enthuiasm will rev up as you do! Besides you are already a success!