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Bethany: Ah-Ha Moments

I’ve been sitting on this novel outline for months. Picking away at the plot when I had nothing better to do–and blathering on about how I should be writing it.  And then that’s when it hit me.  I was That Writer.  The one blathering and not putting in the time to write it.

Once I came to that realization, I figured I might as well hunker down and figure out the bigger deal–why wasn’t I writing that novel?  Pounding out blog posts, book reviews, and my day job writing projects weren’t causing me issues… why this?  Aside from the trama in my life, I had been waiting to write this novel for the past year and now that the time was right, why wasn’t my brain letting me get to it?

The answer was amazingly simple. I was afraid.  See, I lost an agent this year.  Not under bad circumstances mind you, but I lost one nonetheless.  And if you know anything about publishing, this crushes any writer.  Especially a new one like me. One who’s first novel didn’t sell. One who needs this novel to get back on the market–now for an agent AND a publisher.

At first it seems easy–all that pressure was causing me to lock up.  Or the new baby. The holidays?  How about the recent deaths in the family?

Nope.

It was the fact that way back when my agent did mention leaving, she sent the first 100 pages of this one (rough, rough draft mind you) to a friend… hoping she would help me out.  She prompty said no.  And, honestly, that hurt more than my agent leaving.

But that seemingly bad circumstance made me rethink the concept and start anew.  Totally new.  And even revamp my process.  I started outlining.  Writing bits of dialogue.  Rethinking plot points.  Thirty-five plus pages later into this “outline” I stalled out.  Afraid that I couldn’t do the plot justice. I couldn’t pull off this new, better book.  Fearful that when I re-approached that new agent (again) she’d shoot me down AGAIN. And then where would that lead me?

I suppose right where I am now–not writing. And that really isn’t a way to keep working toward a dream is it?  And that in and of itself is the Ah-Ha moment of the day.  I’m proud to say, scene 1 of the book… now written.  Scene 2?  Waiting for the next 10 minutes of free time I have between dinner, children, diapers, and nursing.  It’s ready to be written now.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Bethany, I haven’t gotten as far as getting an agent yet, so you’re one big step ahead of me, girl!

    Oh, but I completely get what you’re saying about FEAR in general. It’s a defense mechanism that’s actually pretty destructive. In this case it serves no useful function, but it doesn’t always help telling yourself that.

    Right now where I am my creative stuff can’t be front burner. I’m just too busy with work, grad school, parenting, etc. But when I’m not in school I find other things to take up that time, other excuses, out of that same FEAR.

    It’s tough, and I think we all battle with this same demon. and you with a child still young enough to nurse? Girl, you’re doing a great job writing at all! Keep at it. You’ll get there.

    Lisa

    January 30, 2008
  2. Oh thanks Lisa! And yes, I remind myself every day… even if I only get one more sentence down, it is better than nothing! 😉 you’ll be soon to follow me I am sure with the agent things–and remember, I am back to looking for one again too! HA!

    January 30, 2008
  3. It’s interesting that you write about this now. I’m having the same issues, but in reverse. Back in October, I went to a writer’s conference here in SC and pitched my book to an agent and a publisher. The publisher liked my idea, found it highly marketable, and said to go get an agent. Then I talked to the agent and she said to send her some pages to read. I’ve been putting it off. My current excuse is that I shouldn’t shop my novel around until it’s “finished”. That I will look for an agent then.

    In the meantime, I’ve been writing nonstop. My novel has become longer and more complicated than I ever thought possible. And sort of like the Winchester Mystery House I keep tacking new bits to it. But I am afraid. I have no idea what to say to an agent beyond “Remember me?” The thought of saying something ridiculous and putting her off literally terrifies me. The thought of putting myself out there and not being published terrifies me more. And so I keep writing excuses for myself.

    I wish I had some words of motivation/wisdom for you, but Lisa’s right. It seems we do all wrestle the same demons. I guess the best we can do is recognize the fear and then ignore it.

    January 31, 2008
  4. Bethany, I wonder if you can get back to the mindset you were in when you wrote the first novel. It’s possible that for the first project you were more immersed in writing something that pleased you–writing for yourself, rather than thinking about your ultimate audience and selling the book. Now that you know what’s involved in the selling, and how tenuous process can be, the pressure may be interfering with your creative flow. Try to remember that selling fiction is a whole lot harder than selling non-fiction, but that the good stuff really does rise to the top. It’s a tall order, but try to separate the process of creation from the other stuff. If you write something that sings for you, and you’ve put the time and effort in–paying your dues–chances are, your work will sing for somebody else, too. Trust yourself!

    January 31, 2008

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