Monday, October 26, 2015

Chained to the Desk, or Not

"What motivates you most strongly to maintain your writing life, even - or especially - when the going gets tough?"

This is a hard question for me to answer honestly because I don’t actually know and wish I did. I love the idea that I have a “writing life,” but feel like a bit of a fake at times.

First, I’m not always motivated. I goof off, I play, I say yes to friends who want to have lunch and people who want me to volunteer, and to my own travel lust.

Second, I’m occasionally writing without a contract; that is, I hope a story I’m writing will please my agent, who will then shop it around in the hope some acquiring editor will fall in love with it. Last year, I wrote an entire 70,000-page manuscript with no one pushing me with deadlines. Exciting to be flying free, but scary, and tough as shoe leather at times.

Third, every segment of the long process from that Hey-I-Have-A-Brilliant-Idea to the final proof before printing has its hard moments. The first draft is, for me, the most fun. The first revise is even okay. The revise after that, the one that deals with what the editor wants – the need to answer pesky questions about plot intricacies or character behavior – tough, tough.

I write because it’s damn near the only thing I know how to do. So, bottom line is this: I’m motivated because if I’m not writing, or sweating bullets editing for the fourth time, what else am I going to do? Bowling is out; I learned that in high school. The ladies who lunch are lovely, but I’m antsy after the salad and find that I’m eavesdropping on other conversations looking for a tasty bit of dialogue to steal.

So, ultimately, what motivates me is the idea that this time I may get closer to the vision I had in my head when I started the book, that I may get better at this writing thing, that people will read my story and love it.


Meredith Cole said...

It was great to finally meet you at Bouchercon, Susan!

One of the really great things about being a writer is that practically everything (including goofing off!) counts as research...

RJ Harlick said...

My approach to writing is a lot like yours, Susan. But I do like Meredith's justification for the times spent not writing.

Susan C Shea said...

Meredith, I need you speaking inside my head some days!

Robin, you have no idea how much better I feel knowing I'm not the only Mind with this approach. We have so many over-achievers among the blog group.

Thanks, both of you.