Friday, August 7, 2009

The Writer's Crisis

It's like a midlife crisis, only it happens far more often.

Here's what it is: you came up with this idea. You teased it out. You wrote it out. You re-wrote it. You refined it. You lovingly crafted this book, or this story, or whatever, and suddenly...

You HATE it.

You begin to wonder if anyone will ever like or even mildly appreciate what you've written, because it's flawed, or unoriginal, or just generally oozing suckiness from every orafice. You doubt everything you have done in the past day, week, or hell, year. You consider giving up writing and becoming a potato farmer in Idaho instead.

Happens to me like...once a day. Right now, I hate TM. I want it to go suck an egg. I spent four days fixing it and trimming it down to 70,000 words and now I have lost sight of what made it so magical to me when I was writing it. I can no longer picture someone, an agent or an editor, sitting down to read it and going, "...wow. This is cool!"

And it's only 11.

Here's the thing: when you revise, you train yourself to look for flaws. And soon, flaws are all you see. And when that happens, the hate begins. But stop with the hate! Remember the awesome! Remember the awesome soon, before you get soundly rejected...because in all likelihood, you will. And when you do, you have to be able to believe in your work anyway, or you will never get anywhere. You won't be able to continue sending it out, and you won't be able to fix it and make it better.

I say that and it sounds so pessimistic, but it's important for me to remember. Rejection doesn't mean "your idea sucks. Your writing sucks. In fact, YOU suck. Do the world a favor and move to Siberia!" It means "No." Or "Not right now." Or "not for me." Or "needs work." And it'll happen. Because just as not everyone likes you, and you don't like everyone, not everyone will like your work. Too bad, so sad. Scoot along to the next person.

Good pep talk, V.

I need this pep talk because at any moment, someone will read my query or my partial MS. And rejection or acceptance are hurtling toward me any day now. I pride myself on my ability to keep my head on straight, but it's faltering right now. Someone send me stable thoughts.

I'm going to go have a chat with the BMU (Big Man Upstairs, aka God) and then get back to work. Diet book, anyone?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Raccoons, Cutsies, and Revision Goals.

Here is my question: why are there so many dead raccoons on the side of the road on route 59?

Story time: one time, I shot a baby goose in the eye. It was not on purpose. I was aiming this little pellet gun we have at the butt of a big goose to get it to GET THE HECK OFF OUR BEACH, because the large and irritating geese poop everywhere and I would like to be able to walk in my back yard without stepping in crap. The pellets in this gun sting big geese, but don't hurt them, and it teaches them not to come back. Case in point: we have very few geese haunting our beach at the moment, so HA. Anyway, I have poor aim and I shot a baby goose and it died and it's very sad.

Okay, you know what? It's not that sad. There are so many freaking geese around here. Did I cry when it died? No.

The point of this story is to establish that I am not easily affected by dead animals. But there are so many dead raccoons! And they aren't the big, nasty raccoons that hiss at you when you take out the trash at night. They're these little baby raccoons with tiny paws and limbs sticking out at unnatural angles. Fluffy. Cute. What's with all the death?

Also, I have a message for a certain kind of person. There are four construction zones on the way to Naperville from Barrington. All of those zones require the right lane to merge with the left lane. So I dutifully get in the left lane at my earliest convenience and wait patiently in line with everyone else to get past the zone. The line usually goes back about a half mile, on a bad day. And there is always at least one butthole who zooms to the front of the line from who knows how far back and wedges his stupid car right in front of someone who has been sitting there for ten minutes. It's the adult version of cutting in line. So my message is: no cutsies, jerkface. Wait your turn.

In other news, I have 40,000 words finished in my revision of TM. I figure I have 35,000 to 40,000 left to write/adapt from the old draft. My goal is to have at least finished this draft, without a read over, by Sunday, and to send my partial in on Monday with the synopsis. There. Now that it's written down and floating around in the ether, maybe it will actually happen.

35,000 words in five days...that's 7,000 words a day. Crazy talk, Veronica. Crazy talk.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Epigraph

If I get to pick an epigraph, and they won't let me use John 15:13 (There is no greater love than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends), this is it:

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, -- but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.


-Edna St. Vincent Millay

My very simple interpretation of this poem is: death happens. But that doesn't mean I'm going to sit around and wait for it. Or, similarly, I'm not going to go quietly.

I'm probably wrong, but no one's grading me on this one.

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