ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

IWSG post - 'I quit!'

Welcome to June's IWSG frenzy of posts. 

The purpose of the IWSG is to share and encourage each other. We can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. The IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Alex J Cavanaugh's awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Pay each a visit if you can!


June 7 Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?


Now to the question. I'm not someone who suffers from writer's block. I wonder how that is even possible, but one day I might find out then I'll get it. No, I've allowed other things to block me...

George Charles Beresford - Virginia Woolf in 1902 - Restoration.jpgI started writing ages ago, in late teenager-hood and into my twenties. Then marriage and children intervened. I shake my head in amazement at those gals who say they write at the dining table with the kids screaming around their legs, but I've always been a Virginia Woolf believer in that writers need a room of their own. I blogged about Virginia HERE in my 'Are you too old for a writing career?' post.

So after managing to send off a few short stories (one accepted, one rejected), I decided I didn't have time for writing at that stage of my life. Not only the family pressures, but I felt too ignorant. So when the kiddlies grew some, I went back to university and learned more stuff. Even though 'they' say writers don't need a great education, being an avid reader of bios I've yet to come across a successful author who writes the big meandering books I like (think Gone With the Wind) who doesn't have a few degrees in creative writing and such after their name. 

Okay, so in about 2007 (where did those years go? Oh, that's right, I was gathering life experience), I decided to unquit and start writing again. I could handle the short stories, the flash fiction, but the Great Australian Novel is a lot harder than I thought, even with a nice tumble of letters after my name. 

But I'm learning. 

Thanks to some very giving writers who've mastered James Scott Bell, Michael Haugh, and the Donald Maas heroes etc 'rules' of plot and structure I'm learning the difference between short story writing and novel writing. Don't get me wrong--I have all the books, just that...

I didn't 'get it.' 

I didn't like making my characters suffer. Gulp. My critters have helped me chase my main characters up a tree and throw rocks at them (James Scott Bell who attended the University of California where he studied writing with Raymond Carver) which I must admit has added oomph to my stories which is where I am in my unquit phase. One day soon, I'll gather a few more bags of rocks and finally finish one of the five novels I've partially written.

And for those of you who didn't see my last post, I'm only posting for the IWSG and WEP for the next months, so I can actually complete and publish said novels.

I'm loving this new phase of writing even though coming to grips with plot and structure is hard.

I hope things are going great for you, too. I'd love to hear your story in the comments. 

And speaking of WEP, we have our BRIDGES challenge open. You can sign up in my sidebar or trot over to the WEP website where you'll find more helpers for this challenge. We're loving these challenges dreamed up by Nilanjana Bose and the badges created by Olga Godim.







66 comments:

  1. Glad to see you're moving forward with your writing. I love writing and dip my toes in all sorts of genres. Plus I write fan fiction for the hell of it and because I love writing. I have two epic journey like books I want to write myself. Though mostly I'm interested in writing young adult fiction which is it's own rewarding journey.

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    1. I love multi genres. I've written fan fic too. Actually my Bridges post is based on Shakespeare. Love trying new things, but I'm sure I'd be more successful if I mastered one genre, but, then, would I be?

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  2. It's fascinating how different people gravitate to different things. I've tried short stories and not got on with that form. I prefer the broader canvas of the novel. As you say, they are very different beasts.

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    1. I love writing short stories and don't find them a problem. But maintaining the rage for 80,000 words is a lot more challenging.

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  3. Hi Denise - good to see you here, but quite understand the need to be away from frenetic posting ... giving yourself time to write. I haven't really touched stories ... and for some reason am struggling with bridges and you may get a 'typical Hilary' post - we'll see ... perhaps a degree or course would be a good idea - but for now I'll tick along dealing with life itself.

    Good luck with finishing those novels and getting them published and out there ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary. If I'd be writing novels all these years instead of spending so much time blogging, I'm pretty sure I'd have a few pubbed by now. I always look forward to your 'typical Hilary' posts. Don't apologise.

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  4. Hope your writing is going really well and I'm looking forward to reading your pieces.

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    1. Thanks Lyn. I'll throw some your way when they're readable, LOL!

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  5. (I tried to answer with my Wordpress ID but have no idea where the answer went... So just in case I repost with my Google ID - if you get two similar posts, just delete the other one)

    I also never said I'd quit. It's just that life happened and I had no time or energy to write books. Illnesses and deaths in the family stole my energies. And then I chose a "time-thief" I really wanted. Namely studied Egyptology for five years at the University of Manchester. At the same time I had a full-time job. You can do the math....

    I only had time for essays, research, reading Egyptology material, and discussing theories. But then, at the end of my studies, after my father died of cancer, I suddenly had so much energy I wrote my first book at the same time I wrote my extended essay for the Diploma in Egyptolgy. The amount of energy just surprised me. (Of course it helped I had planned the story for ten years in my mind).

    And also no writer's block on my end. The words come easy - the only problem is when the characters take my carefully planned plot to surprising directions. They seem to have a mind of their own and no respect for all my plans... LOL :D (And no surprise there all my books have the common theme of ancient Egypt - in one form or another)

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    1. Leena, sorry about your first comment. Who knows what happens? And Paris is my inspiration, followed by Italy. All my stories are set in one of these fab places, much like you focus on Egyptology. How intriguing.

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    2. And if you read this, Leena, I've tried to find a recent blog for you but can't.

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  6. Eventually you will get it.
    Good thing degrees aren't required for what I write or I'd be screwed.

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    1. With the help of other writers, I am getting it.

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  7. Glad you didn't quit for good! Good luck on your novels :)

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  8. Glad you're so focused on your writing. I think many of us go through those times when writing doesn't fit with the rest of life. Glad you came back to it.

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  9. Thank you for sharing your journey so far!! Keep going and know that you inspire others - me included.

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    1. Thanks Nicola. Glad that I can inspire someone as I clunk along the road.

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  10. I smiled as I read your post because it shows me that writing is a force that pulls us all back when we least expect it. We go through our phases and fads but I believe it is this spirit of writing that allows us to experience events and situations before we pick up the pen and began to write.
    Thanks so much for sharing a part of your journey.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia
    Everything Must Change

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    1. Yes, Pat, the urge to write just won't go away, the pesky taskmaster. But it's the best thing, isn't it?

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  11. Novels are just longer. You can do it. Now is the time.

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  12. It is a curious journey isn't it, but that's as they say, life. I do get a bit jealous of men who write. They can go into their office and spend a full eight hours doing just that writing - women have to take care of the household, the kids, prepare and shop for the meals, etc. etc. and most also hold other jobs, or are still struggling to get that degree. (Yes, I know some men play the house-husband) Still, most have much less on their mind or their plates! Oh dear, have I just started a him vs her writing war. LOL We'll see! Might be an interesting question for the IWSG?

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    1. I've always thought that about male writers. Look at Hemingway. Up at 5am, write till midday, then go down to the cafes and meet with the cream of creativity in Paris while his wife looks after the kid. Hrumpth.

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  13. Sure can get there. You just need to throw more rocks haha That writing bug can sure yank us back even when we try to not let it attack.

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    1. When I enjoy throwing rocks, I'll really enjoy plotting Pat!

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  14. Yeah, might be hard to make your characters suffer, but so rewarding when you have them to prevail! Congrats on your perseverance!

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    1. Thanks IB. Without perseverance where would we be?

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  15. The years do spin past while we're doing things that make up our lives. I'm always shocked when I see where I am and how quickly I got here!! I'm holding off on WEP until I see if I can make that commitment. Right now I'm in over my head and not coming up for air yet. And you can tell I'm behind because of all those cliches! :-)

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    1. Yep, Lee, maybe I'll be like Rosamund Pilcher and publish my first novel at 80! She managed a few more massive tomes after that. I hope you're improving health wise!

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  16. Funny I never take the blame for my character's trouble. They find it wherever they go and it is totally on them. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Yep, those characters do some dumb things, but I just want to rescue them right away.

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  17. Like you, I hate it when my characters suffer. I guess it is my main problem as a writer: I like my characters too much and I wish them happy. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for me) life often throws hurdles in their way, and they have to fight for their happiness.

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    1. Yeah I'm a softie, but that's not what people want to read about is it? They do want characters to be rubbed raw by life. Egad.

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  18. Just signed up for WEP and promised myself I WILL make it this month, even though my life is in chaos right at the moment. Actually, that's the best time for me to write, the ideas just start pouring out. Go figure. At a point when I seem to have the least amount of time, I have the most creative thoughts. Yes, I'm one of THOSE people.

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    1. So great that you're on board, FAE. I hope your creativity is all over the place for Bridges!

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  19. I totally hear you on the getting it. I took years to figure out the differences between picture books, MG novels, YA novels, NA novels and adult stories. (Say nothing about specific genres in each.) These things take time to really sink in and become a part of us, and heaven forbid we should rush in unprepared. Editors can only take you so far if you don't get a concept.

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    1. It does take years, Crystal, so I applaud all of you who take a lot less time than I have, even though I've studied, read, studied some more, written...blah blah blah. Here's hoping...

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  20. Lol! I'm that mom with the kids screaming in the background. I almost can't write when it's quiet now, haha! Sometimes I think I should stop and take more time with my family. Glad you did. That's important. I like that you "Unquit" though :) Funny.

    www.jessicatherrien.com

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    1. I take my hat off to you Jessica. It was just tooooo much for me, but I value my time being a mum. Once I'm in writing mode, I have a glazed look on my face, lol.

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  21. SURPRISE.... Fancy seeing me here... lol

    Seems like things are rolling along smoothly for you. SO HAPPY to hear it.

    Sucks in a deep breath. Wish I can say the same. Just bad times all around. Ugh. "WE ARE OVER IT!" LOL.

    Would love to do the Bridges WEP, but I just don't have the energy. It's been a rough go with Melissa Bradley's death and ANOTHER rejection for BG after winning a twitter contest with THE KNIGHT AGENCY... They passed. BUT, the agent invited me to submit to him again "IF' I have another project. Better than a form letter I suppose.

    So I finally posted for IWSG and I'm bouncing around to say hi to my friends. I miss you guys terribly. Everyone is SO busy with life. I get it.....

    HOPE all is well withe remodel. You should be finished soon.... Want to see more pIcs!

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    1. Yes, super surprise, Michael. I'm sorry things still aren't going your way, but maybe you need that new project. I'll be around to check on you soon.

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    2. Hi Denise! I JUST PENNED my submission for BRIDGES! I actually managed to write something these past few days. All the support from all of my lovely IWSG friends have given me the will to do so.

      Its full of all the Michael atmosphere and description you love. Well, at least I hope you'll love. LOL

      Looking forward to the submission!

      HUGS,

      Michael

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    3. Now I can't wait to read it! Too little atmosphere and description these days. My critique partners keep scrubbing mine out!
      Soooo pleased you're on board:-)

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  22. I also believe a writer needs a room of his or her own. Or even a tiny little separate writing cabana (my dream).

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    1. I agree. Writers need space to create and I applaud those who can write in the face of busyness.

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  23. I just stated on someone else's post that writing is a journey. You exemplify this. Thanks for sharing your story! I often can write with noise because I can tune it out. If you can't tune it out, you can't write.

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    1. No noise for me except the ocean roaring.

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  24. I just stated on someone else's post that writing is a journey. You exemplify this. Thanks for sharing your story! I often can write with noise because I can tune it out. If you can't tune it out, you can't write.

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  25. Yeah writers need their own space with a desk and big monitor setup. We moved and my room is little did not really have room for my desk so left it in garage but my writing was a struggle so day before yesterday I rearranged my room and brought my desk in. It is wall to wall now but I feel better and the room feels more like a writing room with my desk. Did not realized I missed it so much, lol.

    Enjoyed your post.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  26. Big life changes like marriage and kids can sure block writing. That's what happened to my mom. I use half of my bedroom for my office. Before I moved into my house, I lived in an apartment and had my desk in the corner of my living room. Both worked for me. :)

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  27. Love it! I STILL have troubles making my characters suffer - my biggest challenge by far! :)

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    1. It's my biggest challenge, Jemi. You too?

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  28. I often feel sorry for my characters - I'm not afraid to make them suffer. ;)

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    1. Good for you, Trish. Nice to see you here.

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  29. I've never had a problem making my characters suffer - maybe cuz I've experienced quite a lot myself. But, I don't think you need to "experience" something to empathize with the emotional drama of life. You can relate anything to everything, ya know?

    Still, its good that you can read other authors and intuit writing lessons. I get that way myself. And not every book or concept is appealing to every writer (or reader). I think you are adapting quite well, one lesson at a time. Its a journey, not a race, right?

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  30. After reading your post, I'm wondering about a few things...
    1. Will I be doomed to write FF?
    2. I've only been writing for a few years, so does that mean I still have thousands of words to still write until I get to a 'decent' stage where it doesn't suck too much?
    3. I struggle to make characters suffer, so as a writer, I'm in serious trouble?
    Off to ponder these things...

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    1. My FF habits have definitely led to cutting too much info from my novels but I'm learning to amplify.
      Some writers 'get it' quickly. You might be one of the lucky ones!

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  31. I so agree with you on that room of one's own or at least a writing zone - essential! and also with the others who feel men have it easier.

    I never quit, but 20s onward it did slow down, just too much going on to focus on writing. I don't know when it picked up speed again - remember making up rhymes in Bengali when the kiddo was learning to speak, but sadly it was wholly an oral thing, never wrote those down - I'd have a book of nursery rhymes :)

    Writing is a compulsion in the blood, once you're infected, there's no quitting I think (gosh that sounds like herpes or something!)

    Good luck with the novels! See you at the Bridge, and thanks so much for the shout out. :)

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    1. Ha Ha Nila. Lots of us with a bad case of herpes, LOL!

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  32. I'm not a quiter. At least, I have to be successful in something before I will leave it to explore other options. It sounds like you are highly motivated to write. :)

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