Monday, October 12, 2009

Writing Purgatory

Your first novel is finished and with several publishers waiting to be read. One is showing great interest! Your second novel is finished, and is in the revision/editing process. A third and fourth novel are in the early stages, but you’re optimistic they’ll both be good. So how does it feel?

I’m in publishing purgatory. Now I’ve been here for a while, but some days (like today) are worse than others. Many days, you wonder what in the heck you’re doing and why. Why did I decide at 39 yrs old, I wanted to become a writer? I honestly don’t know. Someone put me on a path, and the story happened. Why did I think it needed published? Well…wouldn’t it be a waste of time, not to mention completely self-indulgent, to make no attempt to profit from all the time and work invested? Don’t I owe my family that?

There are mornings I wake up, plagued with doubts and questions. I religiously scan blogs from other writers and agents, always in the hope that I’ll find another soul with similar misgivings. Many say, “We write because we must.” I agree with that. Writing became an addiction for me within three days of starting the first novel. How healthy can that be? If there is one thing you do (addictively) that interferes with real life, can it really be good for you?

A cardinal rule of writing is: Do not trust the opinions of friends and family when it comes to your writing. I comprehend the concept of this, but how likely are you to send writing samples to people you don’t know? How likely is it that they’d want to read them? Where do you find said people? “Writing critique groups,” says those in the know. Really? Wow! We don’t have any real life writing groups here. I live in small town Arkansas for Pete’s sake.

In the few writing forums I go to online, there is constant repetition of one phrase to new writers asking for critiques: “You just want someone to tell you how great you are.” I have a two-word response for that---WELL DUH!!! Who doesn’t want to be told how great they are? Some will venture to say the writing shows promise, but they never say exactly what is wrong with it. Oh, you’ll hear things like punctuation and grammar, that’s easy. I only know of one person that I consider the grammar police. (And she knows who she is.)

Much doubt, work, and even denial is involved in writing a book that might not make it to bookshelves. In the mean time, you have moments of mild freak outs, you constantly second guess your motives and abilities, and most importantly--you keep doing what you’re doing and strive to master the craft. Why? Who knows!

I could be in the next room holding my new grandson. I did that a lot last week and can tell you it was wonderful. Closets could be organized, floors could be scrubbed, toilets always need cleaning, but I’m here. Right here in front of the computer. Drinking coffee, preparing my mind for surreal locations, and planning once again, to write a story that very few may ever read. I can’t say why anyone, including myself, keeps trying. Validation? An extreme belief you have something to contribute? Money? I write because it makes me happy. It thrills me. Allowing my thoughts to spill out in type, gives me a sense of wholeness. After all of this, the doubts have settled. Paranoia has receded. I’m not wasting my time. I write because I must.

Where are you right now? Are you in your own brand of purgatory? Are you still plugging away at a dream? Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up! ‘They’ might not come when you build it, but YOU built it. At the very least, you can take pride in that. When you quit, you fail.


  1. Love you and your stories! You are awesome!!
    Damien Stafford- in my own brand of purgatory.

  2. Oh my, this blog post is crazy wonderful!

    I read your entry over at Nathan Bransford's blog, liked it very much (that cage is creepy!), and thought I'd drop over to see who you are.

    And dang, I find you are not only a witer, but a ghoster, too. Do you ever tell any of your ghost experiences??

    As for writer's purgatory, it never goes away. Except when you are actually writing and disappear into the zone where time does not exist. For me anyway.

  3. Damien,
    The feeling is mutual! Thank you.


    Thank you! As it happens, I frequently tell my ghost stories. Most people think I'm nuts, but they are pretty good stories;) Thanks for dropping by, hope to see you again.