Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Doubt

Guys, I'll admit something.

I'm in a funk and I'm not even querying!

Yeah, I'm still working hard, hammering out edits to the first fifteen pages of my WiP, getting ready for my self-made deadline of next Tuesday when I'll be sending it down to California (for the SCBWI summer conference). Thank you to everyone who has given me critiques and help. Your feedback has been invaluable.

Still, I'm discouraged.

I keep reminding myself I'll snap out of it. I know it's partly because I've been feeling sick for a couple weeks. It's also partly because the end of the school year is so busy.

I also know I can't let my mood be based on circumstances. My joy comes from a well-spring that's deeper than that. But on dark days sometimes I don't have the motivation to find the joy. I take a morbidic pleasure in letting myself be blue.

Good news is that, like I said, I'm WORKING through it. Because of the deadline, I'm not just sitting around feeling sorry for myself. Even though I don't feel like writing, I'm writing. I have a brand new ending for my WiP.

Plus, I keep wondering if this period of time is really a gift in disguise.

My protagonist's older sister struggles with depression in the first part of the novel I'm working on. Maybe I'm getting a tiny taste of what that's like so I can portray her better. Maybe I'll have a deeper, more powerful book because of this experience.

I'm not sharing all this to make people feel sorry for me. It's just an attempt at being real ... it's easy to keep up a blog and make people think every day is shiny and happy. We can come across as perfect parents, perfect spouses, perfect housekeepers, die-hard writers who never doubt themselves, and it can all be a mirage. Life isn't always that clean cut. Sometimes there are hardship and pain, mood swings and crabbiness -- it's part of our world's condition.

And doubt. Is this what I'm supposed to be doing with my life, with my time? It's definitely a good question to ask occasionally, to make sure all this time I'm spending on writing is a worthwhile investment.

Life, maybe even especially a writer's life, is one of ups and downs, with a healthy dose of rejection thrown in. We also tend to be pretty emotional people -- that's how we birth our characters, after all. All this makes writing an up-hill marathon with absolutely no guarantee of success.

Still, at the end of life, even if we can't measure our success as writers in published books and sales, will it be worth it? Will  we look back and know with certainty we couldn't and wouldn't have done it any differently?

How do you handle the down times?


  1. I think you've got it right, Amy - you just have to keep working through it. If writers only wrote when they felt like writing, well, we'd have a lot fewer books to read:)

    And I think it's healthy to realize where you're at, and to realize you'll (eventually) come out of it. I struggled with a bout of depression in high school, and those were the two self-discoveries (for me) that actually led to breakthroughs: first, to accept that there was nothing I could do, that I couldn't just make myself happy (because, in general, I'm a fairly happy, optimistic person) - and then, after a while, to realize there was something I could do (namely, to stop using the depression as a crutch).

    (Not that I think you're totally depressed or that you're using anything as a crutch, of course. That's just how it was for me.)

    Best of luck, Amy. And I think your storyline sounds great, by the way. (I'm always in awe of writers who manage to generate conflict without magical objects and lots of explosions:) )

  2. LOL! Thanks Krista, you always encourage me. :)

  3. Amy--life is full of ups and downs. If you were to read a book about a perfect character with a perfect life it would be terribly boring. Most people wouldn't be able to relate to it. Your life experiences, both good and bad, bring you to who you are. I feel things deeply (like with the loss of Stripes), but that's how I write. I am emmersed in my story when I'm writing it. I finished up a chapter and started a new one yesterday...I was physically exhausted when I stopped. After all I had been reading and writing about being in the heart of The War...Use your feelings. Every experience you have can make a character in your writing stronger/weaker/more loveable or hateable...this is a good thing.

    Back to your 15 pages. They were very well done! I really enjoyed reading them.

    Now---go buy yourself a bunch of flowers and get back to work. :)

  4. Been there. Lived that. Actually, I'm fairly certain I'm there every other Tuesday. ;)

    Thanks for the authenticity! I love it.
    ~ Wendy

  5. Napping is good. I nap, or go to bed early or sleep late. Sleep it off! Sounds simple but it works for me.

  6. I've been having a tough week, too. Actually, a tough couple of weeks. Decided I have to scrap my most recent WIP (and it was finished, mind you) and start from scratch.


    it was a tough decision, but I think the right one. I got through it by reminding myself that every step in this journey is worthwhile. Nothing is wasted and there is a lesson in every experience.

  7. I hope you're feeling better. Reading this reminded me that we haven't swapped pages. My session tonight went really well, and I'm quite free to look at them (if you still want me to). I'm so excited for your conference. You're going to love it.

  8. Hey Amy- just hang in there. Every day I'm either up or down from where I was- not that I'm manic depressive at all, it's just everyday is different and I may or may not feel up to the challenge. Exercising helps, spending quality time with my family helps, working on my book only when I know I'll have some quiet time helps, too. It gets really old trying to edit, trying to write and not being able ot hear myself think;)

    Good luck. Thanks for keeping it real! -Kelly