“I think most artists create out of despair. The very nature of creation is not a performing glory on the outside, it’s a painful, difficult search within.” -Louise Nevelson
It’s been said to us many times. After hearing that you write for publication, there’s that coworker, relative or friend who will say with such ease, “Oh, yes, I would like to write, too. Everyone tells me I’m great at it. But I’m just busy with so many things now.”
Truth be told, we’re ALL busy. But what separates the writers who actually complete something and those who are just wannabes, is nothing less than sheer hard work. Like a dog with a chew toy, you cannot give up. Even in the midst of your own chaotic life.
That was how it was for me. My novel, Rain Song, was a working and reworking process. None of it came easy. For two years, I kept at this novel; with each rewrite, I sent out queries to agents. Although many thought the writing was poignant, they had trouble with the main character. One night I reread the first chapters and sighed. I had trouble with her, too. She needed more flaws; I gave her some of mine.
Last September I sent three chapters to an agent. Desperate to see if she thought it was any good, I hadn’t finished the newest rewrite. So when she called to say she wanted to see the entire manuscript, I was in a quandary.
My husband, who suffers from many mental disorders since the death of our four-year-old, had recently left the kids and me, for good this time. He’d quit his computer-programming job, leaving us with limited finances. He’d always been the main bread winner.
Although honesty is the way I like to operate, I didn’t think it was stretching the truth too much to come up with an excuse for my agent. I told her, “Thank you very much. I’m having a family crisis at the moment and will have to take care of some things, but I’ll get the novel to you as soon as I can.” She replied that she was looking forward to reading the manuscript.
There was no time to waste! Every spare moment from that day on was spent rewriting my book. I wrote between comforting my children as they missed and worried about their dad, after my day job as an office manager, and while I wondered how I was going to pay the mortgage.
And what if my agent didn’t like the novel after all? I wrote, trying to block out that huge concern. So many writers have low-esteem about their ability to create well. If my agent hates it, I’m giving up on this writing dream, I vowed.
In October my agent called to say she loved it. I almost fainted. Within two months, she actually sold it, and another book-a two-book deal-to Bethany House Publishers.
And when the first advance check arrived, I watched the numbers in my depleted bank account go up, breathed relief, and took my kids out to buy new tennis shoes.
My advice-be like me, but don’t completely be like me. Put on some music to write by and be motivated. Create the novel, working on it a little each day, getting it in top-notch condition before your agent asks to see it all! Yes, you are busy, but listen to that voice in your head-if you want to be published, you have to pay the price. Discipline and loads of prayer to God for inspiration is how I made it to living my dream. Taking the online WritersWeekly.com course years ago, Finish Your Novel in Eight Weeks, was a big boost to my initial draft as well as having a wonderful critique group to draw attention to content and grammar.
In spite of life’s crises, books can be written, and most likely written more real because of the pain we experience.
Alice J. Wisler, founder of Daniel’s House Publications, is the author of Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. Alice speaks across the county on writing through grief, sells personally-crafted remembrance cards, and tries to remind herself that she is not getting older, only better. Her first novel, Rain Song, is slated for publication in the fall of 2008. Alice lives with her three children in Durham, NC. Visit her web site, Writing the Heartache, http://www.geocities.com/griefhope/index.html