Monday, May 14, 2012

Searching: A Writing update

In some ways I feel the blog has lost some of its focus in the past few months, if there ever was a focus.  I have struggled, wondered what the blog is supposed to be, if it's supposed to be anything at all.  So I just kind of wandered around, wrote about things I saw or felt, about books I read, or whatever strange thought came to mind.

One topic I have avoided like the plague?  Writing.

So.  I owe ya. 

Searching For An Agent 
At the end of January I had finished my novel, Rabbit Island.  It took me a lot to get there.  I wrote the book.  I re-wrote the book.  Then I re-wrote huge portions of the book.  And then I worked through edits based on critique. Since then, I have searched for an agent slowly.  This is my career.  I want an agent who represents the kind of work I like.  And I want the *best* (for me.  Which may not be the best for you.)

Some of the best rejected me based on my query alone. Some of the best requested my work, read it, and then rejected me. Some of the best are still reading.

So, it's a slow process.

Most of the time it hurts my heart to be a part of this process.  Sometimes, it doesn't hurt.  And, really, that's the only way I can think to describe the past few months searching for an agent.

Searching For A Working/Writing Life
I think some of you know I work full time in the wacky world of children's media.  Beyond that full time employment, I have taken on additional writing projects in order to learn as much as I can and expand my network and my writing abilities.

I'm still searching for the right balance between writing fiction, working in the corporate world of children's media, and working on other writing projects that challenge and inspire me beyond 9-5.  It's been an interesting, if exhausting, exploration. 

Searching For A Story       
Throughout all this, I began writing a new novel.  I fell in love with the idea but I struggled with the voice, the tense, the pace, the, well, everything. I wrote 10,000 words and rejected every last one.  I wrote 10,000 new words and, then, I just...stopped.

I started another new novel.  I fell in love with the idea and then I read a book that did it better. I wrote 5,000 words and, then, I just...stopped.

Searching For A Book
I never wanted to admit this here.


At the beginning of May I just...stopped writing.  (Not counting all the writing I do 9-5.  The writing projects I took on in the evenings and weekends.  And the writing I do on this blog.)

The truth is, and I'm ashamed to say it, I lost a lot of confidence while querying and I was burnt out as I tried to search for a way to organize my working/writing life.

So. I stopped.

And I did something else.  I began to read.

And I'm still reading.

And every time I think, Melissa, you should be writing. I tell myself, Melissa, you should be reading. 

I'm reading books I once loved. I'm reading books I want to know if I love. I'm understanding the stories I want to tell. And when I'm ready, I'll write.

So, that's my writing update.  I'm not writing. 

It's your turn. Where are you with your writing?  Are you on any kind of search?


  1. I loved this post - because I'm trying to write more. least more than I was after my two little girls were born. I'd write in my journal and their journals, and that was about it. My blog is sort of a "catch-all" - which means I don't know what it is. I loved that line you put about wondering what the blog is supposed to be - because sometimes I wonder just what I'm writing. Right now, I'm just trying to find my voice without mimicking someone else's. And being comfortable with it as well.

    By the way, if your book is anything like your blog posts, I'm sure it is a beautiful and enlightening. I love the voice that comes through your words.

  2. When writing gets not fun anymore I take a break. Reading is something I love too :) I think it is natural to let things settle. And you are getting married soon. That it a BIG stress. Just go with it and be happy you are at a time in your life when you can :)

  3. I hear you! The process of getting an agent is not for the faint of heart. You know the cliche - it will happen if you just. keep. writing. It will. You are a writer. And yes, you are getting married soon - you have so much on your plate. I bet when you are reading you are taking mental notes anyway and this will serve you very well as you start again. And since you asked...I have just been rejected from the very last agent who had my manuscript. Those are the especially hard ones because the agent actually reads your entire manuscript and says, "Not good enough." I can't stand to think of where I will go next with it, so it sits. For now. My next novel is almost edited for the 2nd time. The great thing? One of my readers said, "You've gotten so much better." Onward we must go...:) Here's a great read for you: "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie," by Alan Bradley. LOVE! And he's 70 years old.

  4. Such a true post. Looking for an agent or editor can be tough. It's full of ups and downs and it can wear you out.

    I think when you are stuck with your writing, reading is the very best thing you can do. When the right new story comes to you you will know. Don't forget you can shoot me the beginning of any book and I'll give you feedback. (hugs)

  5. Good for you. Take your time and wait until you're ready. I'm on final edits and feeling the burnout. I'll be so happy to be done with them that querying may be a relief. Maybe I'll join you and read a bit.

  6. I think sometimes we all need to take a break - it's better to do that than to force it when you're not feeling it. In the meantime, devour some books, grow your tomatoes and explore the city :)

  7. I think that's completely fine. At a writing conference lately, one of the authors mentioned how she works in spurts. She doesn't write every day, which seems to be the wisdom of the hour. That really encouraged me. :) When you start writing again, when you're ready, it will be wonderful. :)

  8. Reading lots is part of the job of being a writer.

  9. I think a break from writing is so, so good for you every now and then!

  10. Sometimes, you need to take the time to read. It's such an important part of being a writer, even if it doesn't feel as productive as writing. I hope a good idea comes to you in time!

  11. I think what you're experiencing is the "agent over my shoulder" problem. While querying, you're viewing the rough stuff that's in process through the lens of "this isn't good enough for the agents either! Waah!"

    Here's where many men have an advantage--they're better at compartmentalizing. The done project is in one zone, the brand-new messy draft in another zone.

    I think the main advice I have is to try to find ways to connect deeply with one of your draft characters. Make a fake journal and playlists and Pinterest what might appeal to her or him. Sit down an poke away at the draft, telling yourself, "I'm going to spend time hanging out with *character*" rather than "Now I'm going to write." Keeping it relational can really help de-stress the drafting process.

  12. Melissa, this post is so right where I'm at. My blog has stalled - my writing is non-existent. I have a new job and thought it would grant me time to write and my creativity would spring forth. But I find a massive roadblock that I cannot or won't get around. Instead of trying to force it (I know it will come back in time) like you, I'm reading and trying to find inspiration in every day activities (reading a book, magazine, observing the people around me). So here's to the momentary pauses in our writing lives - and congrats on the wedding. Enjoy your travels in Spain!