Friday, May 18, 2012

The Drive to Write

Untitled As I struggle to get further ahead in the writing and publishing process (I’m in the “find an agent” phase), there’s always a new hurdle to face. Most of them seem to be about what I need to learn to get where I want to be.

A lot of my learning is through revising my novels, and sometimes I get to a point where I feel like I just can’t put any more hours into a project. Especially when it seems that there’s still so much more revision work to be done. The questions I’m trying to address are huge, because they usually involve rethinking the whole novel:

“How do I make my character stay real through the whole story?"
“How will I change the tone of the novel to match the ideas behind the plot?”
“How can I work on the pacing to make the entire novel more compelling?

None of them are quick fixes I can pull off in a couple of hours. To make matters worse, sometimes I get to a point where I can’t even tell if the changes I’m making are an improvement. [Usually that’s the time to take a break.] Am I really learning anything?

The feeling of not getting anywhere can be overwhelming. This week I really appreciated Shannon Messenger’s honest vlog about how, even after she got her agent, she considered quitting: Shannon Messenger Takes the Truth

I've considered quitting more than once this year, but I always end up persevering. Why? Part of it is because of the people cheering me on – my writing buddies and my family. Part of it comes from those small signs that I’m making progress – requested revisions, feedback from my crit group or beta readers. But ultimately, it comes down to me. If I didn’t have the drive to continue, the outside support wouldn’t be enough.

Writing is so embedded in my life that I don’t think I could stop. I also really hate to give up on anything. I even have visions of going back to those drawer novels one day and fixing them up. I always feel like I know I can do it, and this latest revision might be the one that helps me move closer towards my goal.


  1. Thanks for the link to the Shannon Messenger vlog... truthful but still inspiring!

  2. I will have to check out Shannon's vlog. Publishing is so hard and it's one hard step after the next. But you know you are getting closer when you get more requests, you get those revision requests which means you are so close. And most of the time it's more about personal taste and making that perfect match than anything. There is something to be said for perseverance. I'm so glad that you are still writing because I just love reading your stories.

  3. Quiting shouldn't be an option. It's true that the process of getting published (and that's not even the final goal) is long and uncertain, but if allocate your time wisely, there shouldn't be a problem. Publishing is about 1% of authors making some waves. The odds are really against any aspiring author. But there's not rush. Read the story of Jenny Milchman who had a dream to have 1 book published in book stores. After 11 years of perseverence her book will get published in early 2013. The final goal is not to get published but to have a book that sell well. I can see why people who decided to be full time writers might quit, because it's very uncertain that theyw ill be able to make living. But if you have a job and write in your spare time, there's not reason to quit. You just move along, don't take all the rejections personally and also put some time to think about a great idea for novel.


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