Monday, March 7, 2011

In Search of Passion

I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch here at home, but things are beginning to settle down. As a result, I’m in a reflective mood. I seem to have lost my will to write or even promote. Lost my will to even be online.

However, there is something inside me that doesn’t want to give up on writing, and so I’ve begun taking stock of everything around me—including real life. There is baggage I need to dump in order to lift myself from this sad state. That process has begun. But it’s not so simple where writing is concerned.

What, if anything, do I need to dump with my writing? I can’t think of a single thing. But I do keep thinking of things I need to do more of and get better at. So as I’m worrying over getting my writing mojo back, I’m constantly adding to that worry by berating myself over things I haven’t done well enough.

I’ve got to stop doing that or I’ll go NUTZ!

In thinking on all of this, I went back to the very beginning. The day I sat down at the computer and made the conscious decision to write a book. I was excited. On fire. Sweating bullets in order to get those words inside of me out so they could see the light of day.

I was menopausal. LOL

Yep, that’s what did it for me. Seriously. Years of putting the meat and potatoes on the table for three kids and myself all by myself had gotten to me. PTA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, gymnastics, ballet, jazz, karate, cheerleading, etc. None of that belonged to me. It belonged to THEM. And as much as I love my three kids, I wanted—no—needed something that belonged just to me. Something that had absolutely nothing to do with the kids or my extended family.

So with all my raging hormones, I went ROGUE!

I knew absolutely nothing about what I was doing. In three month’s time I had tapped out 250,000 words. One book. LOL My family thought I was nuts. Still do. They see my frustration, hear me calling the computer every four-letter word I can get my mouth around and DON’T see me on the NYTBSL and wonder just what it is that drives me.

So do I.

But…as menopausal as I was/am, if I hadn’t been writing for the past five years, I may very well have ended up in prison. Anne Rainey posted a blog this past Thursday about menopause. I commented to her about it by telling her I was doing it commando style—no meds. Why? I dislike medicine. Dislike doctors. And it’s not your ordinary kind of dislike either. It’s one of those things I’ve just dug in my heels over and no amount of preaching is going to change it. So writing has kept me “even”. All my frustrations tend to go into writing and haven’t ever spilled over onto the family. Unless, of course, you call my occasional tirade over just who the hell had the gall to move my fan from my desk spilling over. Don’t touch my fans. I have one in each room of my house strategically placed for optimum cooling.

Back to writing.

My friend Destiny Blaine and I have talked about doing a workshop for writers in which we basically apprise them of all the pitfalls they will encounter in the publishing industry. But time is just not on our side. Hopefully, someday we’ll get around to it. In the meantime, it’s those pitfalls I’ve encountered and others yet unknown to me that I will inevitably encounter on my writing journey that have me tied up in knots for some odd reason. I keep thinking, “Hell, if it’s just one big screw up after another, why keep doing it?”

Good question. And the answer?


Either you’re passionate about writing or you’re not. 

And I’ve got to find my passion again. I’ve got to get back to the place I was on that very first day I sat down and started tapping away at the keys. To do this, I’ve got to get my “real life” on track again. Okay, working on that. But more than anything else, I’ve got to quit dwelling on all the things that have gone wrong with my writing career.

Instead, I need to focus on the positives. So what ARE the positives? I am a talented writer. Some of you may think that is conceited of me to say. But if I don’t believe in my own talent, how can I possibly succeed? And I do believe in my ability. I honestly do. That is the ONE thing that remains constant with me that I have never doubted, even as a newbie.

The problem with that is something I’ve learned about having talent and how far it gets you. The cold hard fact is this: You can be loaded with talent and still not succeed. Oh sure, there can be reasons for that like not promoting your author name and books. Not networking with authors and readers. Not dealing well with editors and publishers—just generally screwing up the opportunity. But no, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about picking up a book by an author and reading it and choking on your cornbread because it’s so damn bad. Yet you KNOW this author is a best seller, making butt loads of money, and has nowhere near the talent YOU do.

When it gets right down to it, all the hard work in the world isn’t going to get you where you want to be without some luck involved. Hitting at just the right time with just the right story. Running into just the right editor or agent. Striking a chord of some sort with readers. How the hell do you do all that? It’s a tall order.

So what DO you do? Keep plugging away, making mistakes here and there. Cussing the computer to the high heavens, causing your kids look at you sideways, and just generally dealing with it. Because passion doesn’t ever really go away, does it? It hides, smolders, lays in wait. And then it erupts. Just like in all those sexy romances we write. And that’s why we write romance, isn’t it. To see that glorious passion finally erupt. To tap out that one line that makes us think: WOW! I wrote that.

I know my passion for writing isn’t gone. It’s still there. Hiding. I know this because I’m so worried about it. If I wasn’t, that would mean I didn’t give a flip, wouldn’t it? With time, I’ll find it again. In the meantime, I wait. And so do those six stories I have started. sighhhhhhh


Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

Hi, Tess. Lots of stuff going on around here and dealing with the same sort of thing myself. Hope you can get your life reorganized and your writing mojo back. Not sure I will.

anny cook said...

I write because it gives me joy to put those words down. Everything else is secondary.

It seems we get so caught up in the other aspects of publishing that we forget we ever found joy in writing. So here's my take on it.

I don't write for money. If I did, I would have quit a long time ago. I have a small following of readers who I'm blessed with. Some day I may have more. That would be nice but it won't make a difference in whether I write.

I don't write for recognition. I seldom receive reviews. And of the few I receive, they are no always positive. The only recognition I desire is that from my readers. I save every fan letter and keep them posted over my desk. THEY are the ones I'm writing for.

I damn sure don't write for publishers, editors, or any other aspect of the publishing world. I'm over that. If what I write is something a publisher wants to publish, that's nice. BUT I will never ever again change my writing to suit them. That just sucks all the joy and creativity right out of the process.

Write what you LOVE. If you don't love it, no one else will. If it doesn't make you giggle, cry, smile, make your heart won't for anyone else either.

You don't need to find your mojo, dear. You just need to go back to what gave you joy.

Tess MacKall said...

Yes, Lisa, lots going on and in dealing with it, I can't seem to deal with what makes me happy. Writing.

Like me, you're at a point where you want to give up. But we won't. Not in the end. We'll slowly but surely find our way. I have to believe that.

Tess MacKall said...

You have an amazing attitude about all this, Anny. We could all take a page from your book for sure.

Honestly? I don't mind changing things for an editor or publisher--if they make sense, lol.

I think my problem is that I've been so bogged down in issues here at home that I can't think of anything but the negatives in writing at this point.

As we know, writing is hard work. Yes, a joy to do--and all people should be able to make a living at what they love to do but that isn't always the case. So I don't mind the hard work.

But in my "negative" state, I simply can't see the joy. I've tried pushing the pencil. Tried forcing myself to tap out a sentence or two here and there, trying desperately to make it to just five hundred words in a day.

So not happening.

When I write, I write what I love, generally. It's just that right now I have no words--see no real need and have no desire to write. If anyone had ever told me there would come a time when I didn't want to write I would have told them they were crazy.

I DO need to get back to that day when I discovered the joy in writing. I just can't figure out how to do it right now.

Someone sent me a note about shaking writer's block. This isn't ordinary writer's block. I'm paralyzed.

But I so admire your attitude. I may have to get me some of that when all of this negative energy leaves me alone. LOL

D. F. Krieger said...

Thank you for posting this, Tess. I too, have been dead in the water, though it's only been since mid-February. Is it sad I can tell you the exact day my writing motor up and died? But I know I'm not done for good because I keep looking over my WIP's and notes. I keep reading blogs, visiting publishers I'd like to contract with (in an attempt to motivate myself), and reading books. Problem is, my family won't give me two seconds during the day to form a sentence. By the time night rolls around and every is in bed, I'm so emotional burnt out (Read angry) that all I want is to jump on my PS3 and kill things. Anyways, thanks for letting us all know that if we go to a smoldering it doesn't make us any less of a writer. ~ D. F. Krieger

Tess MacKall said...

Family is my biggest obstacle, D.F. And I don't mean that in a bad way. I've got to learn to say no. Got to learn they need to become self sufficient.

The emotional ups and downs of the past month have taken their toll on me for sure. It's as if all the emotion and thought I put into a book is going to real life problems. And they should. Life takes priority over writing. But so much of what I'm going through is just unnecessary.

I have one family member in particular who just sucks the life right out of me. And it's got to stop. And I'm the only one who can stop it.

I guess you're a bit like me. You're letting other things overwhelm you. It's got to stop. We have the right to have something of our own.

C. Zampa said...

I don't think any writers out there can NOT relate to you, Tess. It IS passion. It does fade sometimes, but is never really gone.
Keep it up, the wonderful writing!

anny cook said...

Hah. The doldrums happen to all of us. Last year I spent over six months recovering from a dangerous abscess in my colon. Here's what I learned... Take time to get it together.

Read. Watch TV. Talk to your friends. Deal with what's on your plate. When you're really ready, the writing will come back. Until then, you just frustrate yourself. But you CAN BE CONFIDENT the joy and eagerness will come back when you're ready.

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