Doubt, Publish, Writing

Trudging Down That Dark Path of Despair

I said in my last post I needed to find some answers before I could move forward. At the time I wrote that post, I was in dialogue with a writer friend who is well-acquainted with the angst I expressed. A few hours after I published my post, she sent me a link to a brilliant one by Robin LaFevers on Writer Unboxed. Though I subscribe to that blog, I missed reading that post. Maybe it just wasn’t time yet.

darkpathThe title of that fantastic article is “The Seven Stages of Publishing Grief (or Hello Darkness, My Old Friend).” I felt as if it were written directly to me. Obviously it wasn’t  so there’s comfort in knowing that what I’ve been going through is common to all writers at some point in their career. As LaFevers writes:

So this seemed like a good time to talk about writers and disappointment. For while writing is one of the most rewarding pursuits in the world, publishing can be a long, slow, painful slog toward the pit of despair, and you can quickly find yourself in the soul sucking land of Major Disappointment. And guess what? This disappointment applies equally to pre-published, traditionally published, and indie published authors alike, so I guess that’s the upside: egalitarianism!

Yes, I’ve been “slogging toward the pit of despair” for a while now. But I’m overjoyed to know that’s normal—and survivable. I’ve read through those seven stages several times. I’ve been working through the Reflection stage, and now I’m about to move into Reconstruction. And I’m looking forward to Resurrection.  LaFevers says:

It’s essential that you don’t get stuck in one of the first four stages for the rest of your life. It is vitally important to your creative soul that you keep moving through them all the way to the Resurrection Stage, for without that, you’re simply stuck in a really ugly place for a very long time.

If you’re a publishing writer, or hope to be, do yourself a favor and go read that post. If you don’t need it now, save it because some day you’re going to find yourself trudging down that dark path.

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Characters, Craft, Editing, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Reader, Writing

Writing out the darkness

I’m still reading my completed novel with red pen in hand. This is the last time—until an agent or editor asks for changes. And yes, I said that before, but this time I mean it. It’s past time to move on to the next novel.

I’ve been plotting the new one in my head for months now. I know my main character well because she was a minor character in the last novel. She was a middle-aged woman in that one, but this story will start with her at age twelve. I “see” the other characters, and have written brief sketches of them for my file. I know how the story begins and ends. I’ve drafted several key scenes. One, I wrote yesterday.

It was not an easy scene to write, and I doubt my critique partners will thank me for it, but it’s crucial to the story. In fact, there are a few very dark scenes in the beginning of this book. That’s something I’m concerned about balancing out because of a recent reading experience.

I appreciate the author’s talent, but the story is so depressing I fear there’s little chance of a happy—or even hopeful—ending. I’m not sure I’ll finish reading the book. Not that I require my reads to have happily-ever-after endings, though I admit I’m partial to endings with at least a glimmer of hope things will work out well. I think the problem with that novel is more that I don’t care much for the main character, so I’m not as willing to walk through the darkness with her.

With that in mind, my goal is to make my main character sympathetic and weave a little light through the darkness, so I don’t discover I’ve written a book readers would despair of finishing. Let’s see if I can pull it off.

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