Friday, December 7, 2012

So That's What I Was Supposed to Be Writing!


So here’s the thing about getting published. At some point a few books in it becomes a job and not just your dream come true. Which is both wonderful and terrifying. Wonderful, because you are MAKING A LIVING – at least in part—from ideas that came from your head and you typed on your laptop and somehow you typed enough of them and they became book that people bought! Imagine! But terrifying, because now you have a CAREER that needs to be maintained and grown and developed. Which can lead you to write something that isn’t the book of your heart but is instead what you believe you ‘should’ be writing or that you think your editor will like or that you are sure you’re obligated to write for this reason or that reason, many of which are very valid. Branding! Trends! Sales figures!

Last January, I had an idea for a novel. It came from something that had happened on a road trip right before the end of the year. Something small that I’d seen had bloomed into this kernel of a story and I liked it so much that I described it to my agent who said, “Go for it. I like it, too.”

Only what I did was write something else. From January until May I toiled on a romantic comedy that while good, was not great. And the more I tried to make it better, to make it work the way it should, the more I knew that this was not the book I should be writing. It was instead, the book I thought I was supposed to write. (See above reasons) Which is very much not the same thing.

Much soul-searching ensued.
Having an agent who isn’t afraid to tell her clients the truth didn’t hurt, either.

And then in June, I sat down at a retreat with a group of Austin authors who had welcomed me—the Houston girl— into their fold, and I pulled out the idea I should have been working on in the first place. By the end of the weekend I had outlined a new book.

I’ve been working on it since (in addition to the books I was already contracted to write)—hard work that has made me dig deep and then deeper and then deeper still.

2012 was the year that I gave up writing the book I thought I should be writing for the one I NEEDED to write. The one that needed me to write it.

And that, to borrow from Robert Frost, has made all the difference.




10 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! Setting aside a project is very hard for me to do, but if it just isn't working at the moment, forcing it never seems to help.

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  2. I love this post. Thank you for sharing. It's always good to be reminded why we got into this amazing, exciting business in the first place.

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    1. It's a tricky business sometimes! And the time frames for finishing something are so long... but it's all part of the journey!

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    2. I know exactly what you mean by the long time frames, Joy...Always so exciting to see a project you've loved for so long finally come to life!

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    3. I know, right? Such a weird and wonderful profession where you can work your butt off on something for MONTHS and then toss it.

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  3. Brilliant post! Wow. As writers we know how hard it is to give up on something we've toiled with for so long. How freaky scary!!!! Totally applaud your courage.

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    1. My agent (wonderful woman that she is) recently told me when I was whining and moaning about this and that and all of the above: "If you're gonna ride with the big boys then you have to put on some serious leathers."
      Which I think sums it up nicely.

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    2. That cracks me up because it's so true! Yay that you're writing a project that speaks to you!

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  4. Your agent is a wise woman. Great post!

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