Sunday, June 16, 2013

All Work No Play

It's no secret I'm a law school drop-out. And when I worked in a government legal office being all work and no play was to be expected--or a good thing if unexpected. Settling for second best has always been hard for me. I'm your typical class-A overachiever. (Or at least I want to be, I'm really an underachiever for the type A personality). Translating that same work ethic to my writing has been quite the ride. The year I started writing, I wrote about 300,000 words. Since they say a million words makes you an expert, that was a pretty good first year. When I got my first set of rejections, I rewrote the query and try tried again. 105 plus rejections later, I'd lost my muse. It was six months before I wrote again. But when I did it, I did it good. The next thing I wrote was a short story, "The Fate Of A Marlowe Girl," sound familiar? And the first thing I wrote after that was A Missing Peace. I was thrilled. I was enjoying what I wrote again and getting a good response. What more could I ask for? I'd gained some confidence and created a business plan. I was no longer concerned about the end result. I'd query 15 people and get a response or not. Then I'd self publish.

But I got quite the response. The Other Marlowe Girl tour was busier than expected  and I wrote like a maniac to finish the companion to A Missing Peace timely. I took a short break, rewrote it, did the edits, sent that baby out. And it's with my agent now. Before I sent it to her I was 10,000 words into my next novel, still writing like a maniac. But this time it was being a slow, painful process. For the first time in two years I had to jump ahead and write scenes I hadn't come to yet, because I was stuck where I was. And I have to plow through this book. I'd set a self imposed deadline of July 1 and I need to write two more books before school starts in August. The more books I have out the better chance I can really start to become profitable from my writing, and who knows how much writing time I'll get after school starts?

But my agent told me it's unlikely we could submit my next book next month even though it's shiny and pretty and complete, which took a lot of the pressure off of me for finishing this one by July. And I realized something else--I'm getting back to that dark place. The place that left me unable to write for six months. More importantly two different people loved sections of two different manuscripts that I wrote expecting to have to cut. One was a major event in the a manuscript that hasn't yet been published. I was afraid people would say it was over the top. I took a big chance. The other was a paragraph in the book currently with my editor. I expected it to be parred down to a line. But my editor highlighted the whole paragraph. "Such powerful sentences, Beth." And if I write like it's a business instead of an art these are chances I might not take. Opportunities I'll miss. More important, they were fun for me as a writer. And that's when I realized, I have to slow down. So my new goal is two books this summer, but it might drop again. I just want to write to the best of my ability. That should be the real goal.


  1. Good for you. Write fearlessly on the pace that keeps writing fun. Just because it's a business doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. :)

  2. Hi Beth,
    It's nice that you've keep writing and its nice to hear you are setting goals for yourself, just remember not to beat yourself up for things that are out of your control it's a bad habit most of us have but it's not something worth beating ourselves up.
    I like that you are changing your strategy and seeing things with a different light, I wish you the best of luck with all your projects and don't stop writing :)

  3. 'And if I write like it's a business instead of an art these are chances I might not take. Opportunities I'll miss.'

    Amen, sister!