Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Insecure Writer's Suport Group



It’s that time again. Time to shake out our fears, release them into the might sea of electrons and offer up some words of encouragement. Be sure to thank Ninja Captain Alex and hop on the linky: it’s another IWSG.

I’ve been struggling with an idea lately: is it worth it?

It’s a hard bridge to tackle. Every scrap of my life has been the safe road. Every choice was for the future, safe, solid, conservative. Every choice.

The act of starting a novel is complete madness. Writers start with an idea. They do all the work on the idea before anyone else sees it. They feed the idea their words. Hours and hours, gone. Housework? Nope, I’ve gotta write. A full day’s paying work followed by long nights pecking at a keyboard, and for what, a flawed first draft. The writer goes back and reads the manuscript (more hours) decides what to keep and what to toss. Then it’s back to writing. More long days, more frozen dinners for the family. Send it to beta readers: they hate it. Revise, rework, reword. Write. Betas say: better, but not enough. Rewrite. Redo. More dark lonely hours, but like a drug, the manuscript calls us back.

Then, finally a writer emerges from the writing cave blinking and holding something in their hands that represents months—sometimes years—of work. They craft a one page letter to carry the hopes of their dreams out into the morass of the query trenches. More months pass, but the writer has already fallen in love with the next idea. And the next one is The One.

I know plenty of people who’ve been on this merry-go-round for a decade with varying degrees of success. Madness. In what other profession would we tolerate so much failure? But every week I hear from those same friends about their novel, how they love this or that about it, and how they’re excited to get back to work.

Excited. Years of failure and they are still excited.

I’ve been writing like I mean it for years now. Granted, they sort of skipped by with me busy doing other stuff—notably that paying job, etc.—but I sort of look up every now and then and wonder, Holy Copernicus, how did another year slip away? Will I ever get published? What if I never get to print? Another year that just flounced by with me splitting myself into worker, mommy, writer: Is this worth it?

From a logical stand point: no. There is no way that spending hours and days and weeks and months and years could possibly work out to “worth it” for a novel that gets trunked. A touch of math will tell you it can’t be worth it in terms of lost work potential. If everything went perfectly, a novel probably takes something like 400-600 hours of work depending on length, revision, rewriting and so forth. That’s a lot of time. So logic says no. It isn’t worth it.

But logic has never dictated my actions. I’ve tried, but every logical choice I’ve made has bit me in the asterisk. Writing defies logic. For 400-600 hours, I get to live in a world filled with magic and justice, wonder and beauty. Heroic deeds well up from people who never knew they had it in them. I get to watch worlds and people unfold before my eyes, and there are so many I want to share, so many stories. The stories are boiling out of me, and if I didn’t write, I’d self destruct. That’s not hyperbole. It’s madness, yes, but it’s my madness.

So if you’re sitting at your desk today, looking at your manuscript and wondering if it’s worth it, to split your life and be an employee, and a parent, and a spouse, and a writer, just remember: writing a novel is madness, but we’re all mad here.

20 comments:

  1. You wrote my mind! If I had a nickel for every time I thought, "I should give up this writing craziness and go clean the toilet...at least I could say I accomplished something!" But you're right, it draws me back again and again. Thankfully there are those who understand my madness!

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  2. Seems like this is the theme of IWSG today. But you're right. It's madness that is a worthy cause, even if it doesn't make sense logically. Love this post!

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  3. Great post you are right, there's probably no logical sense in it but we do it anyway ;)

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  4. Yep, I'm completely mad and I love it, but I don't understand the word 'housework'...

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  5. This post makes me both sad and optimistic. But I'm so glad I'm in such wonderfully mad and wonderful company. :)

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  6. This post is beautiful! And so true. We're all mad! LOL.

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  7. I used to have a secure job, secure life, but I chucked it all in to be a writer. Probably before I was ready. But I never would have been ready, lol! Love this post - thanks!

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  8. Can I join your madness? Or is that by default because we're in the same boat? I love it, and I', you do, so we can be nutters together, right? Enjoyed your post! :)

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  9. I'm waiting to fall back into that state of madness :) It's really fun there!

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  10. Maybe it's madness, but it's also bliss. When the words take shape, and they actually match your thoughts. Oh...it's the best! Great IWSG post!

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  11. We are mad people. But when everyone here is mad then no one really is. Great post! :)

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  12. complete and utter!
    without madness, life would be dull!!

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  13. I honestly wouldn't know what to do with myself if I stopped writing. There would be this massive void in my existence. The ideas would keep coming, too, I know they would, and yet I'd have to ignore them?

    Torture!

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  14. Finally, I'm in the company of those who understand! It feels like an addiction--this crazy compulsion to completely immerse myself in the imaginary world of my stories.
    It defies logic, but sometimes it seems it's the only thing that makes sense in this crazy world.

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  15. Oh goodness, Rena... I LOVE this post... and I SO relate to this. Phew. I debate this on a daily basis. It's impossible to keep the excitement/inspiration/happy stage all the time. We sacrifice A LOT to write... and there can be months where we don't see how it's worth it... but I think all it takes is time off from writing to realize that we're not whole without it... and that, I think says it all. :-)

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  16. My sentiments exactly!! Love the "bit you in the asterisk!" so cute!

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  17. I LOVED reading this! Back in April on my birthday of all days, I piled EVERYTHING I had in my apartment bedroom I had written and I was so close to throwing it all away. But I didn't. I think we have moments like that as writers, where we really wonder if all this suffering is worth it. The fact that I opened my laptop the next day and began rewriting my book tells me it is, but man, it's a long road. People think I am insane because I got a degree in English Writing to become a writer. People ask "Why? What happens if you fail?" And I don't have an answer...because failure isn't an option. It just isn't.

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  18. I couldn't have said this better Rena. Very well done :)

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  19. I like having a reliable, 40-hour-a-week office job. But embarking on writing is to set foot on a path where there are no sure road signs, and where half the maps are wrong. And to get published -- that's the wild world of private entrepreneurship.

    I'm ill suited for this by temperament, but it's what I want to do.

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