Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What Do You Love About Writing?

Lately, I've been fickle, like a woman who falls madly in love with a man only to lose interest a month later. Of course, I'm still happily married to my actual husband. But I keep falling in and out of love with my plots. I start a new manuscript, thinking This is the One, only to soon wonder what I ever was attracted to in the first place.

It's not a very productive way of writing. And it makes me feel yucky.

I talked it out today at critique group. Have I told you how much I love my critique group? As usual, they had great advice for me. Jenny thought I should tell myself my next book would be my file drawer manuscript, the novel I wouldn't publish. She thinks the pressure is getting to me, and she's right about that. But unfortunately, I don't think I can trick myself into thinking I'm writing for nobody. Carol told me I should write about a character with the exact problem I'm having right now... a girl who thinks she has nothing interesting to say. That has its appeal, but it doesn't feel compelling enough for me to dedicate myself to it for a year or more. Plus, I don't like this feeling! Why would I want to immerse myself in it? Ellen asked, "What do you love about writing?"

That was a good question.

I said, "I love trying to answer a question. With Julia's Kitchen, the question was, 'Why does God let bad thing happen, and how do you deal with the worst possible thing?' With Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire, the question was, 'What do you do when a friendship that you thought would last forever starts to fade?' I love living vicariously through these characters as they figure out the answers to these questions."

So then, of course, Jenny, Ellen, and Carol asked me what I wanted to know the answer to now.

Another good question.

I'm thinking about it. And hopefully, when the right question comes to me, I'll fall in love with a character and plot and be able to commit, at least for the next year or two.

What do you love about writing?


Anonymous said...

I love feeling like my characters are real. I love being a part of their lives. I love losing myself in a frenetic energy in which my fictional world becomes more real than my physical world.

Brenda Ferber said...

I love that, too, but it usually takes me several drafts until I get to that point. Are you able to do that in a first draft?

Alan said...

I love that you still love your "actual husband"

Brenda Ferber said...

And I love that you actually commented on my blog!

Kim said...

I'm sorry you're going through this Brenda, but I am comforted in reading about it. I'm going through something similar. This week the publisher of my first book told me they weren't going to commit to my second book until they saw how sales would be for the first. No pressure!
Now, instead of focusing on writing, I keep worrying that I will never sell another book. I, too, can't get excited about any new stories. I remember when I first started really trying to work on my craft and how excited I would be to nail down a first draft, enjoy a light bulb moment on a story problem, discover a new and interesting character, etc. I took joy in the process instead of worrying about the outcome. As hard as I'm finding it to do right now, I think I need to take a few giant steps back to what that feels like before I can move forward.

Brenda Ferber said...

That stinks! Way too much pressure!
You're smart to step back and try to remember what you love about writing.
It is all about the journey. Good luck!