It’s Been a Hard Day’s Week

It’s all fun and games…until there’s a deadline. Over the last few weeks I’ve been hunched over my laptop working to meet a tight deadline set by an editor. I’ve often heard or read authors confess that there are times they don’t enjoy writing. After the last few weeks, I can understand why. Oh, like every author there have been days when I’ve sat down to read my current WIP and thought, “Wow, what a piece of crap!” Taking a step back to look at my work objectively and with a critical eye isn’t fun, but it is an integral part of the creative process.  Yet there is always a true, pure joy that comes from putting words on a page and telling a story.

I love writing. It defines me. It’s who I am. The last few weeks have reminded me that creating a story is all fun and games…until it comes to the BUSINESS of writing. Writing AND selling is work. Marilyn Pappano recently pointed out to me that while our books may be our babies, “to everyone else — the agent, the editor, the publisher, the distributor, the book seller — they’re a product, nothing more.” That may sound a bit harsh, but it is the cold hard truth.

After meeting my deadline, I rewarded myself, taking a little break from writing. For the first time in weeks, I watched TV. Tonight VH1 broadcast the Beatles movie Hard Day’s Night and The Beatles Anthology. As I watched those shows and listened to the interviews with John, Paul, George, and Ringo, it occurred to me that there were moments in their careers when The Beatles weren’t having fun, when the BUSINESS of making music, then promoting and selling their songs got in the way of enjoying their craft. Ultimately, it played a part in the break-up of the band.

The bottom line is, from start to finish, writing is work. Whether it’s putting the first words on a page or scheduling a book signing, it’s all work.

The challenge is keeping it fun. 

The rewards are worth it.

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10 thoughts on “It’s Been a Hard Day’s Week

  1. Great reminder, Lynn. We write because we love it and because we HAVE to write. We’d go nuts if we couldn’t. However, in order to make it as a writer, we do have to remember it’s a business for everyone else involved in the publishing business. Hmmm. There’s that word again. The trick is to find a balance between the creative side of producing a good book, and the business side of getting it on the store shelves.

    Btw, do you have the kinks worked out of that back yet? A nice long massage, some time spent in a whirlpool or even {bleah} some back exercises will help.

    Oh, and good luck with that editor!

  2. Thanks, Linda.

    My chiropractor loves me! Still working out the kinks.

    Finding that balance between producing a good book and getting it to bookshelves is tough. I think what is respecially painful is leaving out scenes that I REALLY love but don’t move the story along at the pace it needs to move. Looking at the scenes objectively will often lead me to the realization, those scenes need to go.

  3. Lynn,

    I think that authors have a real balancing act between the business of writing and the creative process. An author once said that the reason she liked having an agent was because she could discuss the final product with the editor and never discuss the details of the contract (work).

    I can see how hard it would be to put something aside and focus on line edits on something you wrote a year before… spw

  4. Sandee,

    I think Marilyn just blogged about that on the Twisted Sister site recently. I believe understanding that if you want to turn to writing as a profession, you have to accept that, as with very line of work, there are parts you love, and parts you don’t love so much.

    As my DH is fond of saying, if work was supposed to be fun, they’d call it Disneyland and charge you admittance.

    No matter the work, in all its forms, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

  5. I love your husband’s Disneyland saying, Lynn!

    It is a terrific balancing act, and part of the problem is what’s got us where we are in the first place: our creative natures. We’re so much more involved in our books than anyone else; we can truly agonize over parts of it that no one else gives a second thought to; we can feel as if we’re betraying our vision if we cut a scene or change a character.

    Once my longtime editor, Leslie Wainger, asked for a change to one of my primary characters in the proposal stage. This was pre-email days, so I called her and said, no, no, I can’t do that, it would change all the dynamics and would make him someone totally different and then he wouldn’t fit with the heroine and the entire story would have to be changed and blah blah blah — all very impassioned and emotional.

    And Leslie listened to my rant, was silent a moment, then said, “Okay. No big deal.”

    And I’ll admit that to this day, when I have to cut a scene that I really love, I copy it into a file “just in case . . .” I’ve never gotten to go back and slip that scene back in, but I’ve got it if the need ever arises. 🙂

  6. Marilyn:

    I have entire folders titled “Extra” and some titled “Crap” 🙂 Both are full of scenes that I later decided to cut because I needed to hit a word count or the scene, as much as I loved, really just slowed the pace of the story.

    Someday for the fun of it, I’m going to take those folders, combine them into one, and see what kind of story I can make from them. Just for giggles.

    • Wouldn’t that make a funny story if we all inserted cut scenes from our works.
      I keep mine too, especially after reworking TAME & cutting an entire POV. Reread the story…sigh, it made it better. 🙂

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