Tuesday, January 5, 2010

When the Writing is Frustrating

I just spent the past four years (well, very part-time over the past four years) writing a novel (PRETTY FREAKY).

Right before Christmas, I completed my fourth revision. It was torture. I love the novel, but it was hard going and it weighed on me, caused me serious angst.

I just heard yesterday from my agent that "narrative tension" (the whole issue I was attempting to address in this latest revision) is still lacking. I was told the novel won't place until/unless this is resolved.

I feel sort of like crying some moments (but I won't) or even, at other moments, tearing my hair out.

I am an award-winning writer. I have my MFA from a prestigious writing program. And I can't see narrative tension (the lack of it, at least) in my own work.

Am I too close to the work? Isn't this what editors do (or did)?

I know my writing is good (the novel, I mean--not necessarily every quickly-dashed-off blog post). I don't mean to be egotistical, but I also know it's better than a lot of YA I read (and I read as much as I can).

So what's the deal? What do I do now? What can I do except get back to work and slog through it again?

I have asked friends to read and comment for me. No one has time. Hmmmm.

Trust is something I need to have at this point, I think. I need to trust that it's ok that I am not done yet. Maybe publishing is just still really difficult and slow. Maybe the next draft (ugggghhh) will bring me even closer to fine (and fini).

I need to trust that it will all work out--and relatively soon.

Time should be essentially meaningless, and yet, I am always, always worried about time.

I may be a late blooomer, and I have come to terms with that. But when everyone else in the world--it seems--has a book out, I want mine to come out, too.

Back to work...

I keep muttering to myself, "This is the last novel...."

Do I mean it?

Time (hah!) will tell.


  1. Here's a thought... why don't you publish some excerpts? (Or, maybe you have and I just don't know it?) Why not... a page a day... get some interest going. You have a blog, you tweet... people know you.. publish excerpts and ask for comments.

  2. Well, that's an idea. I posted the two openings, but I am hesitant to post more because this novel (the second one) is my big commodity.

    I have workshopped bits of it; I have tried to recruit readers (friends/peers) and I am currently waiting for the lovely librarians at my school to give me their opinion.

    I also had a big discussion with my agent last night about what I need to do now (and it's not as bad as I thought).

    As a writer, you're obviously writing for an audience, and yet when you put something there and the response is crickets, it sort of makes you die inside a little (if you give in to the feeling). So you need to heavily promote the fact that you are sharing a page a day over in aisle one--just to avoid that hellish, gnawing self-doubt.

    I wish I had time to do that.

    I am a big sharer. Really. Just not, perhaps, with this. At least not now. Being almost done is a precarious place to be, and I need to cushion myself.

    Does that make sense?

    Thank you for writing!