Why Should I Keep Writing?

Today started out rough. I had a bad day yesterday and it carried over to the morning and I was still kind of upset. I set my alarm for 5am so that I could get some writing done before work. It didn’t work out so well.

 I think my laptop is dead.

I think I kinda sorta backed up MOST of my stuff? But I’m not totally sure. It’s one of those things where it might be months before I really realize what got lost, but I got the big stuff backed up. My screenplays, the novels, and even some forthcoming blog articles. So it could be a lot worse.

I was fortunate enough to receive an HP notebook computer as a Christmas bonus from my boss at work. I absolutely love it.  So I grabbed that this morning in an effort to continue working. I have some research to do for what I’m currently working on, so I needed the Internet. At first, each site I needed took a good 2-3 minutes to load, which is an eternity these days. Finally, the Internet stopped responding altogether.

It was one of those mornings when I was already upset, so it would have taken very little to set me off. There were some tears, I will tell you that. It’s very frustrating to drag myself out of bed on a bitter cold morning only to find that 2 hours later I’ve gotten nothing done.  Finally, the web starting responding and I got an eensy bit accomplished. Then my son woke up.

 Game over.

Sure, I can put the TV on and give him breakfast and then go back to work, but it’s hard. It breaks the rhythm of what I was doing. Besides, my writing time for the morning was almost up anyway.

 I usually walk during my lunch hour at work, but during the winter months I either walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes or do my Wii Fit. So I set the boy up with some breakfast and got ready to walk on the treadmill. Then my daughter woke up. I set HER up with breakfast. At first, the TV wouldn’t work. NOTHING was working! More anger, more yelling, though I did have the sense to tell my kids I was having a bad day and I wasn’t mad at them. Finally got the TV on, breakfast ready, so I went downstairs to the treadmill.

 One of the things on my writing to-do list is to rewrite the query letter for my middle-grade novel. I always keep a notebook on my treadmill because I tend to get ideas as I walk and listen to music.  I haven’t looked at my novel in a while, so I decided to listen to the music that I used when I wrote the book while I exercised to sort of jog my imagination.

 It worked.

I read a lot of blogs and over the last few days I’ve read some really depressing statistics. One said that you have a .05% chance of publishing a book. Many, many others say that you simply must live in L.A. to ever make it as a screenwriter. Writing query letters and entering contests are for suckers. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you are actually building a career, they say. You aren’t.

Pretty heavy stuff. It’s heartbreaking for someone who has as much passion for writing as I do. To think – you could even be a really, really good writer and it may not matter. I know I’ve vented about this stuff but it’s worth repeating. Because it’s really bad.

 WAYS TO PERSEVERE AT WRITING

So – angry, tired, and upset, and wondering why I bother, I jumped up on the treadmill and switched on my Ipod to my “novel” music. My middle-grade novel is about two 12-year-old girls who discover a cave with strange symbols on the walls. The symbols are being drawn by an Indian boy whose spirit is trapped in the cave. The girls have to figure out why his restless spirit lingers before a nearby construction crew breaks into the cave.

It look little more than a few notes of the first Native American song to remind me why I do all of this.

 Listening to that music brought back all of the emotions I felt when I was writing the screenplay and then the book of the same story.

 Suddenly I didn’t give a damn about .05%.

 BIG PICTURE THINKING

 I listened to the spooky, ethereal track called GHOST DANCE, which I used when writing the scene where they first discovered the mysterious cave. DREAMLIKE DRUMMING was when they first realized that the strange symbols were Indian. THUNDERBIRD DANCE is a haunting melody with mournful Indian chanting. That’s when the girls visited a cemetery at the site of the old Indian Boarding School (which I visited as well for research) where their Indian friend, Rain on the Water, had been forced to attend school.

 Finally, I listened to the most powerful track of all, from the soundtrack to ICE AGE of all things. A track called GIVING BACK THE BABY (maybe you remember that scene from the original Ice Age? The music is not Native American, but it sure sounds like it, with rhythmic drumming and all). This track is beautiful, and it’s truly uncanny how well it fits the scene I wrote. It follows the progression perfectly. The girls conduct a sacred Native American ceremony with Rain on the Water, whom they’ve only been able to communicate with, unseen, through the cave walls. They finally get to see him. They catch a fleeting glimpse of him – first in his American boarding school uniform, which then changes back to his native Indian clothing – before he slips away forever.

 Gets me every time.

 I really needed that reminder of why I am doing this.

 Moments like that are when I don’t care about query letters, contests, rejections, networking, agents, publishers, producers…

 I just want to tell a story.

 It’s not in my power whether I know the “right” people of if I’m going to fall into the tiny minority of people who actually make it.

It is in my power to write the best damn stories I can possibly write. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Breakthrough

My last blog entry was about a being stuck and just not being able to figure out the story that I’m working on.  I wrote about how I was really hoping to get some good ideas soon because this damn script has been kicking my butt for months. After all, the best ideas tend to come up suddenly and nearly ALWAYS when I’m not trying. Sometimes as soon as I start working on something else, an idea just occurs to me. The busier I am at my work (meaning day job) the better ideas I get. If I’m busy thinking about work, sometimes the ideas come faster and I just jot them down on a notebook. When things are slow at work and I can really concentrate on my script…nothing happens.  In my home office, unless I’m writing actual pages, I pace back and forth to think things through. Just staring at the computer screen somehow is not inspiring…

I actually did get several ideas later in the day after I wrote the STUCK entry.  I got even more ideas yesterday, when I was in the car driving to the mall with my family. One of “my” songs that I use for inspiration came on the radio and BAM! I came up with an idea I really loved for a part of the ending of my story.

I have an app on my Droid called Inkpad that is like a little portable notebook. Like any good writer, I always used to carry a notepad with me, but inevitably, I would leave it somewhere or I couldn’t find a pen. Believe me, I’m never without my Droid…so I wrote down the idea on my magical phone.

That’s the thing about being a writer. Sometimes it’s wonderful and exciting and inspiring. Other times it’s annoying and exasperating and frustrating. Some days, like Friday, can be all of the above. When you’re a real writer, you write when it’s fun and you write when it’s not. You don’t wait for inspiration. You just keep working and soon enough you’ll figure it out.

 Are You A Real Writer?

Here’s to You (some words of inspiration for real writers from Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent)

With every story I’ve ever written, there comes a moment when the whole thing comes together. When it just feels right and it’s like the characters come together and start speaking and I feel a part of the story. This is the point where I stop forcing myself to think about the story and instead I can’t stop thinking about it. I think about it involuntarily as I drive down the road to work, as I exercise, and as I go to sleep at night. At this point the ideas come fast and furious and I really feel the story and the characters. When the whole story just “clicks”. I usually know it the second it happens. Usually, I am listening to music at the time and I just think “that’s it. There it is! It just clicked.”

It hasn’t happened yet with the script. But it’s coming. I can feel it…