Saturday, May 31, 2008

Weary Writer

I'm going to chat about weariness.

One reason I'm weary is because, I'm smack in the middle of big fat sci-fi epic. I have half a book. I'm digging deep to find that other half. I've worked on this manuscript for almost a year and half, and I'm nowhere neared finished. It's a huge investment of my time, and truthfully, I'm tired.

The other thing bringing me down is the fact that I've been at this novel writing for a long time. Ten years. I've written 6 middle grade and YA novels (Jimmer, Fractals, Tornado Allie, Plumber Gal, Crying For the Moon and What I Wrote Instead of My Fourth Grade Journal.) in that time with no sales. A while back Jay Asher posted on Verla Kay's Children's Writer message board -- his "Ready to Quit Post." This post brings much joy and hope to many authors. For me it's another brick in the insurmountable 'publish a novel' wall.

Many people posted answers to Jay's post, and I did too. I really went on about stuff because his feeling of being on the "verge" hit this deep chord within me. I posted a big answer to his post. Here it is:

I write novels. I have personal letters from every major publishing house. This includes -- Hyperion, Random House, Scholastic, Little Brown, Candlewick, Viking, most of the Penguin imprints, Walker, FSG. OK, you get the idea. Might I note, no sales. Ouch. I add on to this an inability to break into the magazine market. Painful. I've noted something at the many conferences I've attended (30+) something similar about the many overnight successes who would trot out and tell their story. 1. They already worked and were successful in some other part of the publishing industry (Music, TV, Greeting card writing, editor, something - this is the most common story.) 2. They were related to someone in the publishing industry (Aunt, Uncle, sister-in-law, something, semi-rare.) 3. Had a masters or doctorate in English, Art History or similar field and were current professors at a university (common). 4. Were well published in the magazine market (common). 5. Served on the board and ran writing organizations (common). 6. Got a Children's Writer MFA (semi-rare - I think because few people do this.). I also was given some good advice from Libba Bray. Get work, any work. An illustrator friend backed this up with -- "if the checks don't bounce, it's all good". At this time I began to build a personal business plan. I went to a business seminar. I found out what it takes to make a business. I take any work I can get. I volunteered for SCBWI for three years (I've resigned now). I've edited manuals for local businesses. I've taught classes. I've written writing articles. And little over a year ago, I started to write for the educational market -- I've written 18 (it's 25 now and a picture book) work-for-hire books. No, I haven't received that "big" contract, yet. But I'm a working writer now and all the work has made me a more professional writer. It's all been good. So my thought is to look sideways and see if there is direction you can try that will help your business. I'm not going to kid you; I've felt down in the dumps, but using that thinking to work "smarter" is the way to go.

I really wish I could go and delete this post. I've run out of "smart" ideas and I'm at new low. Jay was about to land a big fat publishing contact right after the post. I was not. I'm still moving along inch by inch. I've not given-up. I haven't quit writing. I'd write even if no one ever payed me a penny. I write plucky stories, full of thoughtful questions and lots of heart. My novels languish in drawers, on desks, and in stacks -- unread. This is sort the heart of my weariness.

This quote rings true for me on so many levels.

In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.

Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

I'm not sure that "men of genuis" is what I am, but I do feel like a person who has "gone up the mountain". I'm stuggling to persevere.

In each age men of genius undertake the ascent. From below, the world follows them with their eyes. These men go up the mountain, enter the clouds, disappear, reappear, People watch them, mark them. They walk by the side of precipices. They daringly pursue their road. See them aloft, see them in the distance; they are but black specks. On they go. The road is uneven, its difficulties constant. At each step a wall, at each step a trap. As they rise the cold increases. They must make their ladder, cut the ice and walk on it., hewing the steps in haste. A storm is raging. Nevertheless they go forward in their madness. The air becomes difficult to breath. The abyss yawns below them. Some fall. Others stop and retrace their steps; there is a sad weariness. The bold ones continue. They are eyed by the eagles; the lightning plays about them: the hurricane is furious. No matter, they persevere.

Victor Hugo

Last is my doodle for the week:

©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permisison!

1 comment:

Vijaya said...

Chin up, Molly. The perfect match will come. In the meantime, keep writing those stories and keep reminding yourself how far you've come in 10 years. All those books! You're ripe for picking.