May 18, 2011

Staying Afloat

I think it's time to brush off my ark-building skills.

It's been pouring for 5 solid days, and the forecast shows nothing but rain for the foreseeable future (which in weather forecasting terms is 5 to 10 days.)  Every pair of shoes I own (all 2 of them) is wet because, rain or no rain, you've just got to get outside for at least a few minutes every day, don't you think?

So, while I try to figure out what a cubit is so I can stay afloat, I will share a little tidbit I found on Monday evening when I was finishing Sarah Dessen's new book, What Happened To Goodbye (an excellent read that I recommend.)

As a writer, it sometimes feels hard to keep your head above water
(you like how neatly I segued from the ark to writing?  That was pretty smooth...)  There are days when the words won't come, and other days when the words that come aren't right, or aren't good enough, and still other days when you send off a ms you think you really nailed to your agent and she replies five minutes later that it's "cute" but a one-time read better suited for a magazine.  Or that you'd be better off using that one as hamster bedding....

Writing is tough.

But here's what makes it better: every writer feels the same way.  Really, we're all in this together.  It's wonderful to have writer friends, both those you actually see in real life and those who have become friends via blogging, because we all get it and we can all toss each other a life-saver (the boat kind, not the candy, although the candy is good too...) when we need it.
(Really, I've got this boat metaphor thing going strong, don'cha think?)

So anyway, here's what I found in the back of Sarah's book.  In the acknowledgments she wrote, "Many thanks to my agent, Leigh Feldman, and editor, Regina Hayes, for their support, wisdom, and willingness to be aboard the crazy train that is my writing process."  I find it so incredibly comforting that a writer of Sarah Dessen's talent and success refers to her writing process as a "crazy train."  It makes me feel like I'm in good company, and if she can create such wonderful books from aboard her crazy train, maybe I can create something good from my ark :)

What's your writing process like?  What do you find comforting/helpful?

P.S.  As I don't usually post on Tuesday, and was away at a school visit all day yesterday, I missed the chance to link to Catherine Johnson's wonderful blog where I was interviewed.  If you're interested in reading it, please visit Catherine Johnson.


  1. Susanna, it is comforting to know that other people are going through the same frustrations, especially on those days (weeks) where it seems like I'm making no progress. And it's raining. We've gotten a lot of rain here too, and I'm hoping my newly planted seeds in the garden aren't washing away!

  2. Never mind the seeds - I'm afraid the dogs are going to wash away :) Do they make waterwings for dogs?

  3. Love this post and the cuddly pictures that go with it! My process starts off with an idea. Once I flesh out the basic premise, I'll write a mock query letter, just so I can sit back and say, "Is this actually interesting? Could I spend a whole novel that's boiled down to this?" If I like it, I start letting the characters come into my head to get a feel for their voices (I swear I'm not crazy~ I just mean if there's a brother/sister fighting element, I'll get a feel for their arguments, etc.) Then I decide on a starting point and just begin writing. After I get down a chapter and like it, I start a more formal outline and try to think of scenes that would fit the story. I try to have 2 things going at once so I can always switch modes when I get stuck :)

  4. Jess, this is so interesting to me as I have yet to figure out how to write a novel :) How do you do the part about figuring out scenes?

  5. Oh that was a cute little surprise to see my name at the bottom. Thank you!

    I am thrilled to be part of such a great community and that I could provide something so useful as hamster bedding ;)Brilliant post Susannah!

  6. Catherine - I'm sorry I wasn't able to post it the day you put it up! But I did slip it in here, and twice on FaceBook yesterday - I think that's how Trauma found you - so hopefully steered a little traffic your way :) Thanks again!

  7. Hi there from Momalog! I'm so glad you stopped by my blog and I found you. (Wondering if you are a friend of the wonderful artist Iza?) I love children's books/YA and I'm going to post a link to your wonderful site on my FB page which is just getting started. Thanks so much for your comments - I love that little photo of the baby duck trying to keep her head above water - and you're "write," - all writers go through that stuff (but they tend to go through it alone. Heh.) Thanks

  8. Ado - yes, Iza and I are friends - she's awesome, isn't she? - and thanks so much for links or anything! I have subscribed to your site so I can keep up :) I will put a link on my blog to yours. I haven't explored your site thoroughly yet - are you a writer as well as a mom? What do you write? It's the solitude of writing that means we've got to stick together :)

  9. Thanks for the great reminder, Susanna. We writers all experience similar highs and lows, but we don't always remember them when we're feeling low. I tend to hibernate a bit when I'm feeling low, but maybe I should get out more. It helps to know that others have overcome the same.

  10. Who can resist a blog post with a water motif :)

    Definitely feel like I'm drowning this week, both because of the rain and the complete inability to write.

  11. Well, Brooke and Corey, like I said, we're in it together! Take heart in knowing that here on Blueberry Hill I'm being just as unproductive as you are :)


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