As anyone writing fiction knows, a tremendous amount of patience, perseverance, and self-discipline goes into crafting a story–from the first glimmer of an idea through the slog of writing, writing, writing, rewriting, and writing to the marketing.
Dreams are fine and good, but it takes effort and sheer gut-crunching determination to stick with a project from start to publication, especially novels.
And some days, writers are just weary, unable to put more than a few words or paragraphs on the computer screen. The plot is a blur. The characters are flat constructions, speaking tepid lines of dialogue, and the pacing seems to drag. Certainly I have reached points two-thirds of the way through some of my fantasy novels where the deadline was looming larger than a mountain and I just wanted to type, “Then they all died suddenly of the plague. The end.”
There are writing sessions where the only thing that keeps us going is a stick. We grit our teeth, think of our book contract or deadline, remember our flat bank account, and continue typing.
And there are the days of joy, when the writing soars, our heart is light and happy, and the words spiral from our imagination into our tapping fingers. Those are the carrot days.
For the past few weeks, I have been laboriously proofreading scans of my back list for re-publication in digital format. Although hampered by tender eyes recovering from surgery, I dutifully read and read and read. For the most part, I enjoyed being reacquainted with some of my earlier work. A few that I feared would be dogs turned out to be decent, and one science fiction tale in particular that I remembered as being fun to write is actually pretty lame. Alas!
Still, my first published fantasy novel, REIGN OF SHADOWS, is now on Kindle and today it’s ranked #1 in dark fantasy. I realize that this is due to its promotion as a free title and that the ranking won’t last, but at the moment I don’t care. I am simply enjoying it.
Best of all, it’s given me a psychological boost and I’m happily writing on a new project with restored confidence. We writers have to be as tough as old boot leather, able to take blunt editorial comments without blinking and find inner strength to keep going when no one else believes in our story premise, but despite the swagger and the growing of rhino hide, we remain at heart fragile creatures. We must keep our sensitivity and our ability to empathize with others, most particularly our characters, if we’re to bring our pages to life in readers’ imaginations.
Carrots help. Whether that reward comes in the form of a cookie permitted at the end of a writing day or through an exciting ranking on Kindle, it doesn’t matter. Whatever gets us up, eager to sit at the keyboard, whatever fuels our passion for the words, whatever gives us hope and spurs us on … it is both necessary and good.
And so much better than the stick!