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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In and out of love...

My friend, and sure-to-be-award-winning-novelist, has hit the point with one of her pieces where she's disenchanted. She wants to try new things. She doesn't love the characters. She isn't exactly sure where the plot is going. And she decided a few weeks ago to put the novel down and take a few months off to work on new projects and then come back.

She posted this today:
Y'know, this is like one of those relationships where you know you should break up with the person, and you do, but then you remember how charmingly he smiles, and how sweet he is when you're in a bad mood, and the way he always stands up for his principles and is one of the most honorable people you know. But then when you're back together you remember how much you hate his family and he's just like his dad when he gets mad, and he's Catholic and you're Lutheran and you both want to raise the kids your way, and it's just not going to work.

So you break up again. And then you remember the time you played Scrabble and tried to use 'ginormous' as a word and he nearly hurt himself laughing, and so did you. And you get back together. But it's still not going to work.

I think a good percentage of writers feel this way at one point or another. That's why I love her analogy, it's so perfect and universal. When we're not involved with editing and writing a book is easy to love, all we see are the happy and perfect parts. We remember how witty the character was and how much we loved that one scene.

When you're editing it's all out trench warfare. It's murder out there! Picking the right word involves blood, sweat, and tears. Picking out the right plot is hard, keeping the pacing right is even harder. Sometimes the fight becomes to much, we admit defeat, fly the white flag, and escape to the warm glow of a new project.

So what do you do to escape the doldrums?

Some people, me included, have abandoned manuscripts littering the depths of our computer files like forgotten corpses in the dungeon. Other gamely plug away at their beloved idea at all cost, and find their lack of passion leads to a lack of passion in their query letters and marketing and their hopes are dashed upon the rocks. Maybe some are in between, visiting their abusive and domineering manuscripts but scooting away for clandestine
visits with newer, better, stories.

Maybe that's why I'm doing NaNo too. And why so many novelists I know also write short stories. Committing to just one project, surviving the editing trenches, can become to much for our bruised egos. With the exception of Lady Glamis who seems to still be in the newlywed phase of writing. How I envy her the passion! Especially when I'm battering my characters into submission for a fourth draft of Ice even though I know I need to do a fifth draft.

So, confess, where are you with your writing? Is it still sunshine and roses? Is the relationship still good? Or are we talking a nasty smear-tactics divorce where you'll even go to court for the dust bunnies?


  1. To escape the doldrums I work on something different, preferably something at either the plotting or editing stage. Yes, that's right, editing; for me, I'm most likely to fall out of love and hate the jolly thing when I have to do first draft writing. AckackACK.

  2. I guess I'm giving mine the silent treatment. I took it with me when I went early to pick up my daughter last night and instead of writing and editing while I wait,(which is what I used to do, in the good old days) I listened to Procol Harum very very loudly.

  3. I'm still in the newlywed phase, huh? Wow . . . deep breath.

    I just hope and pray that my passion will hold up! I actually lost my passion for writing for about 5 years after I graduated college and became an actual newlywed (yeah, took the writing "umph" right out of me). But now, after 5 years of creative nothin', I'm enjoying the plunge back in!

    I don't know why I only stick to one project at a time - maybe it is because I'm fairly new to this writing world, but considering the fact that one of the emphases to my degree was Technical Writing/Editing, I'm willing to bet that the editing won't ever get me too down. I love the editing.

    I guess only time will tell. I'm not sick of my husband yet after 6 years of marriage - is that a good indication? *big smiles*

  4. Oh, I do suppose that I should mention I'm on the 4th draft of my novel as we speak, and I'm actually getting a little weary . . . but I'm still having fun, I'm still passionate about it, and I still can't bring myself to start the next novel floating around in the back of my head.

  5. Lady Glamis- 6 years is good :o) I'm going on 7 with my DH, but I still can't get the one-project-at-a-time thing down.

    Somebody has to love editing, it isn't me.

    I'm a recovering perfectionist and it drives me absolutely nutty when I try so hard to get the chapters right, and I miss. After several drafts I become very frustrated with myself and the characters because I want it to be perfect NOW, and it isn't.

  6. I'm also a recovering perfectionist, but that's why I love editing! First drafts SUCK; they are never EVER perfect. *stabs all first drafts, everywhere*

  7. Personally, I'm probably the stage before Lady Glamis. I haven't even finished my MS yet. It's halfway done and at a little over one-hundred pages (I know most people go by word count but it isn't all put together yet, just a chapter at a time). Still, I do get stuck in the doldrums and not just any doldrums, we're talking Phantom Tollbooth Doldrums, where everyone is moping about doing nothing. In those instances, I typically take to blogging, or at least blog commenting, kind of like now. That's just me though.