Monday, May 3, 2010

Motivation.

Wow, 63 followers!  Welcome to all you new guys.  It's great to see you here!

Well, looks like I get a break from my rabid email checking. Last week I found out that the agent who has my full is on vacation until approximately the middle of May.  You'd think this would frustrate me.  Nope, not a bit.  My main emotion was one of relief. I now know that for a couple of weeks my email inbox is once again a safe, friendly place to visit and I don't have to hold my breath any more when I see the indicator that I have a new message.

Here's something I have been thinking a bit about that might be some food for thought for you aspiring authors.  Since finding out the agent with my full is out of town I sort of lost my momentum on my WIP.  It took me a while to figure out why, but yesterday I realized it was because I wasn't sure how much effort I wanted to put into my writing until I heard back from the agent as to whether she thought I was any good.  It didn't have to necessarily be that she wanted to represent me (of course that would be wildly out of this world awesome and it's what I hope happens).  However, I think for my current situation it would be enough if she said my writing showed promise or something along those lines.

That realization was a bit of a slap in the face for me.  Up until that moment I really believed that I was writing for myself, not because I love it (because somedays, let's be honest, writing is not loveable) but because not writing is more painful than writing.  The realization that I was holding back, waiting for someone to give me an opinion on my writing before I moved forward with my WIP really bothered me.  I don't want to be that kind of writer.  I want to be the kind that continues to practice and progress in their craft simply because they must, because to them to stop writing is to stop living. 

When I was writing my first manuscripts the thought of publication was sort of this amorphous blob that floated from the back to the front of my brain on an irregular basis.  It became pretty apparent pretty quickly that for various reasons these books weren't ones I wanted to send out in the world.  I enjoyed writing them though.  It was enough to watch them grow and change and become something under my fingertips. 

With SEEDS, as the story spooled out on my screen I had the sense that this was the novel I was going to go for it with. Even that thought, though, didn't change the way I wrote. I didn't freeze up in fear of what my hypothetical readers might think.  I didn't zoom forward in a fit of mad typing wanting to get it on some agent's desk ASAP.  I plodded foward, putting at least something on the page daily, in turns marveling at and railing against the creative process, researching, adding here, cutting there, revising until I felt like my eyesockets were going to bleed.  I never once thought of slowing down or stopping while I waited to get an opinion on whether my writing was good or not. 

To tell you the truth, I'm a bit disgusted with myself.  My writing is my own.  Up until now I thought I did it because it fulfilled a need in me, not because I wanted someone's stamp of approval, not because I wanted to see it all shiny and glossy on some shelf in Barnes and Noble.  I'm not entirely sure what to do with this newfound self knowledge, but I will tell you this.  Tonight my WIP and I are going to spend some quality time together and I'm going to see if I can recapture that sense of wonder, of a need fulfilled as I create something that's never drawn breath in the world before.  I hope to find that for me, that's still enough of a reason to write.

21 comments:

Talli Roland said...

It's so hard to keep your focus, isn't it? Sometimes, with everything that's going on, I forget why I'm writing, too. Then I remind myself to get back on track and write because *I* want to.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Don't be disgusted with yourself, luv! Honestly, I think we all long to have positive feedback and a sense of validation, even if we do write because we love it and write simply because we MUST. I think it's perfectly normal. And there's something absolutely terrifying about having your work in the hands of an agent. I think sometimes we fear their rejection because of the way it can really shake up your perception of your work.

I'm glad, though, that you're finding your motivation to work on your writing again. I truly hope you get that awesome agent offer so that the rest of us can read SEEDS, but until then, I think you're doing the right thing, working to stay focused on what's important.

Piedmont Writer said...

It's funny you should post about this because I've been feeling the exaqct same way. I love Genna & Tony and want to create the rest of their little world, but I've been two and a half months waiting for the agent to get back to me on my partial, and I don't want to waste my time on the rest of the series if it isn't going to hit. I'd rather work on G&T than on my historical romances.

Crystal Cook said...

Beautiful post Angie. And so, so true. It's funny because before I allowed myself to just write, I thought I had to have some validation for it. Like I had to know that it was going to succeed. Once I gave that up, it became a whole lot easier to just write and have fun. But it's still a struggle.

Palindrome said...

So so true. I agree that it's more painful not writing. When I finally realized that, I was dumbfounded. I thought, oh! This is what I'm supposed to be doing!

Joanne said...

It seems, too, that this would be a good time to continue with a WIP so that if the agent asks what else you might be planning on writing, you have something in the works. Happy writing to you!

Heather Kelly said...

First off, I think that the fact that the agent requested a full is positive feedback. You should take that as a 'my writing is great.' Whatever follows is icing on the cake. I think that writing for ourselves is wonderful, but that writing for an eye toward publication can take our writing to the next level. You haven't sold out yet--you don't need to feel as though you did. And if your book is a success at B&N, you still don't need to feel that you've sold out. You are writing the book that has called to you to write. That is enough. Go after a book contract so everyone can read your fabulous book!!

B. Miller said...

64 followers now!! :) Looking forward to reading more blog posts from you.

I really identified with this entry. The important thing to remember is we all need validation at one time or another... reassurance that the work we've been pushing ourselves to do will be acknowledged by someone other than just us. Don't beat yourself up too much about it.

Shannon said...

Don't beat yourself up or read more into your need for validation from an industry professional. I think it's natural to want to hear that what you are doing has value to others. And if it does, that certainly does not diminish its value to you. It's just another layer of the onion is all.

Old Kitty said...

Hi

First, congratulations - 63 followers and sure to grow!

Second - yay for this agent to ask for you whole MS (sorry I'm new to your blog and didn't know you had a full MS with a potential agent!!). I am very very very excited for you and I have all my fingers crossed that she'll love your MS!!

Third - awwwww Angie Paxton! You have every reason to want this MS to succeed first before you move on - wanting validation is a necessary part of the writing process. I understand the need to write, the desire to write but if no-one reads what you write and worse if no-one acknowledges the effort of what you wrote then really what then?

I think it's so, so, so essential for a writer who is by nature riddled with self-doubt and highly sensitive to their own innate talents and passions to have a complete stranger IN THE PUBLISHING business turn around and say "yep, we think you have talent, we like what we read, welcome to the family"! Or words to that effect.

Please don't be hard on yourself. Writers are only human - everyone needs validation for their hard work whatever it is people do. More so if they create something out of sheer guts, effort, blood sweat and tears.

So good luck with your potential agent!!! And good luck with you new WIP!

Take care
x

Paul C said...

'Create something that's never drawn breath in the world before...' I like how you put this. The challenge of every good writer. I am enjoying your posts.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Writing is a passion for me but I'll admit that I do it for more than myself. I want others to be able to read the stories I tell, and that means I want to see it in shiny book form. I don't see anything wrong that.

Keep working on the next one. Never let anything stop you and I hope you find that wonder you're looking for :)

Julie Musil said...

A thought-provoking post. Needing approval isn't something we are proud of, but boy, does it feel nice when we receive it. Good luck snuggling up with your wip!

Jen said...

Good Luck with your WIP sometimes some time alone is exactly what is needed, I hope you two connect and can really start to see eye to eye!!

Peggy Shumway said...

You are perfectly fine to want validation. Writing is such a lonely pursuit and knowing someone likes what we write can be inspiring. Best of luck with your agent.

Kaylie said...

Two ends of the scale: Publish or perish and writing just for yourself. It's OK if you're in between somewhere or if you're moving from one to the other, just as long as you love what you do!

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

We all go through this, Angie. Don't get yourself down. I asked myself whether I really wanted this when I was angry about rejections etc, and in the end my need to write answered for me. You'll find the 'need' again. You probably just need a break! Maybe your brain is overworked?

Don’t miss out on my contest!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Oh I think everyone's reasons for writing or not writing changes from time to time. There's no reason to get down on yourself. I feel bad because i'm more excited about my wip than about the book that's out with agents! lol. It's like trying to chose between children.

PS- You've got a little suttin suttin waiting for you on my blog;)

Angie Paxton said...

B. Miller, welcome to my blog! I'm headed over to check out yours as soon as I reply to my other comments. Thanks for helping me see that wanting validation isn't a cardinal sin.

Julie, Thank you and you are most definintely right.

Jen, thanks. My WIP and I are still working on the whole connecting thing, but I think we'll get there.

Thank you, Peggy.

Kaylie, I think it is about finding a balance between those two extremes.

AA, thank you for letting me know I'm not the only one that's struggled with this. And yes, my brain is tired. I think I'm just going to take it easy on the writing for a bit. I didn't know you were having a contest. I'm on my way to check it out in just a bit.

CQG, thanks for that comment and thank you so much for the award! That's so nice of you.

Everbody else, I sent you a reply in your email.

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

Of course we write for ourselves, but come on! Of course we also want that pat on the back and would be thrilled to be published. You are totally normal.

Paul C said...

'The holocaust of his eyes lanced me...' Wow, this is a riveting story.