Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Nappy You Here--Part 2

I must have been brain dead when I made my resolutions last year.

Either that, or feeling mighty incompetent.

Probably the latter. After all, I was in the midst of writing Web of Lies, and the book was killin’ me. I never had a good day writing that story. Not one. Every day of the rewrite was just as bad.

(By the way, now that it’s all said and done—and Web of Lies is about to release in about two weeks—I think it’s a great story. I really, really like it. Just got a good review, too. Amazing. And when I was writing it, I was sure it would end my career.)

And so around the popping fire my family and I first reviewed last year’s resolutions, Mark reading The Paper pulled from the mantel. All of my family members did fairly well. They may not have hit every resolution, but everyone at least partially fulfilled their list.

Then it was my turn. Oh, joy.

Resolution #1: Finish two books.

Huh? Like I had a choice.

Then again, ditto paragraph three, above. Writing Web of Lies, I was probably quite convinced I’d kick the bucket before the book was done. Which wouldn’t have made the resolution so easy after all.

Resolution #2: Continue with daily devotions.

Huh? again. Why was I even doubting I’d do this? Devotions and praying the Psalms are what keeps me going.

And so I gave a hefty shrug. I’d fulfilled my resolutions, but hardly felt any pride in the fact. It was kind of like a nuclear physicist pledging to remember her multiplication tables.

Hey, well, be happy. Better than failing, right?

Next up—this year’s resolutions. Oookay, I was ready. I had some hefty plans this time.

Twenty-two-year-old son went first. Surprisingly, he couldn’t think of many goals to set.

Mom coulda supplied him with plenty.

But I had my own battles to fight. When it came my turn, I sat up straighter, folded my arms, and announced, “I have only one. I’m going to reconnect with the joy of writing.”

There. I’d said it.

See, I’d been doing some serious thinking during the holiday. I realized that I was currently in the midst of a real struggle to write Coral Moon, and not enjoying it in the least. Before that, I struggled to write Violet Dawn. Before that, I really struggled to write Web of Lies. And before that, Dead of Night.

Are you catchin’ a pattern here?

The reality of my situation hit me before we ever left California for the break. I wrote our annual Christmas letter in early December—and happened to look back in the file to our letter of 1996. As any of you who’s read this blog’s NES will know, in 1996 I was writing like mad, but was unpublished. But guess what? I loved writing. I talked in that Christmas letter of “riding the wind” with my characters—what an exhilaration it was to be caught up in their lives and troubles. How I sometimes chose to stay up all night because I couldn’t quit pounding the keys.

Truth is, once I started being published, that joy ended. Writing became a job. A deadlpressureine. An advance already half paid. A blank contract, with a major publisher perfectly certain that I could come up with a great story. And my constantly upgrading standards in what I allow myself to create. In other words—pressure.

Don’t get me wrong—I love being an author. I love the lifestyle, the friendships, the feel of a newly published book in my hands. I love everything about writing—marketing my books, teaching the craft. I just didn’t like the writing part. And after feeling crummy about this issue for a number of years, finally during this Christmas season, I decided I’d had it. In the proverbial phrase, I wasn’t going to take it anymore.

But guess what—you don’t just decide to be happy about something. And I knew the pressures on me weren’t going to change. So how to take this here resolution bull by the horns—and make it work?

I had a plan.


Karen said...

I hate getting started on a ms but once into it, when the characters are coming alive, I love it. Will publication, contracts, etc. change all that? I hope not, but I can see how you might feel that way. I'm tuned in to how you plan to recapture that joy. Maybe it can be applied to other places in life where the joy might be tarnished. Thanks for sharing!!

Karen Wevick said...

Happy New Year - I pray that it is blessed for each and every one. I can hardly wait to hear how you're going to make this work. I'm hoping it can apply to life across the board. (No pressure Brandilyn)
God Bless

Robin Caroll said...

I find I have a great passion for my story and characters...WHEN I'M WRITING IT....after it's done, I"m outta there in the passion department. Is this odd or what?

Stuart said...

What! Barely 4 days into the new year and you're already refering to your plan in the past tense?!?!?! We're doomed! :D

I tend to get passionate about writing when I'm actually doing it. When I'm not I start beating down on myself thinking "How dare you call yourself a writer! You aren't writing!" Which tends to drain the passion away.

Still, my resolution for this year is to become a consistent writer. And not ride on spurts of enthusiasm, but maintain the craft and work.

Anyway, look forward to hearing more of this plan so I can steal it and warp it to my own twisted needs. :D

C.J. Darlington said...

What a great new years resolution - bringing the joy back in your writing. I'm so glad to hear you'll be working on this, Brandilyn, and I look forward to hearing how you plan to do it.

Domino said...

I love this blog so much! I can't wait to see the plan for JOY.

I was reading your post and came to a word that stopped me in my tracks. It made sense to me in a strange way. I saw "deadlpressureine" with pressure in italics. I thought it might be a typo or it could be a word puzzle like "trouI'mble" meaning I'm in trouble. I thought it meant pressure in the deadline. That is what you meant. Right? Am I freaking everyone out?

Anyway... I'll try to head toward sanity for a minute or two.

I do write with much joy and passion, but finishing the story with as much passion is extremely challenging. I think I may be tightening and re-wording the passion right off the page. Just wait, I'll get it right one of these days.

Gina Holmes said...

BC, I just finished Web of Lies, interesting to know it was a tough one to write. I'll bet. First person, third person, and all the twists you do so well. I doubt I could have pulled that off. Nice work, btw.

Thanks for sharing about your NY resolutions. I love the idea of tucking them behind the mantle. I'm going to steal that idea. Every time I look at the fireplace it will speak to me...remember your goals...remember... [the voice sounds just like Mustafa in Lion King.}

Sally Bradley said...

Brandilyn, that is one of my fears! That once the contract comes, the pressure of a deadline will turn me into an ogre! Can't wait to see your plan.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Brandilyn. I can see this happening in my writing life now, and I'm not even published yet! I can't wait to hear your plan.

Becky said...

You've identified why I feel that God has given me the gift of time. I can write without the pressure, which allows me to go at a pace that keeps me refreshed and engaged with the story. I don't know what writing fiction with the pressure of contract and time deadlines must be like. I'm glad you do it so well.

BTW, I saw your books in the local CBA store in greater number than ever before this Christmas. They have to shelf them if they're gonna sell them, right?


Kristy Dykes said...

I, too, love your blog, Brandilyn. You make us want to come back for more. You have such a way with words. Duh, now, since you're such a talented author!

Domino, Brandilyn's deadlpressureine is pure genius. Leif Enger did a variation of this in Peace Like A River. He made up his own words, and reviewers loved it.

Thanks for a great read, Brandilyn. Keep those posts coming.

Cara Putman said...

I really enjoyed Web of Lies. And the back and forth between first and third person worked for me. And I loved the twist at the end with Chelsea. I had one or two unanswered questions at the end, but they didn't really matter in the overall story. Another great book.

And right now writing is fun, but I can see work coming right over the horizon as I edit a requested manuscript. Yikes. May we all keep the joy in writing.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Brandilyn, reading Web of Lies made me shake my head in awe of the intricate way you wove Annie, Chelsea and the bad guy's perspective all into one.

I'm sorry you felt it was a struggle, because the book brought me a lot of enjoyment.

I hope you find your joy again and that it is still, in writing and teaching us!

Pammer said...

OH, I can't wait to see what you learn this year. Please do share the wisdome. I used to love the book I am currently working on, but just as soon as I got a request for it, man I hate it. It's just wrong, it stinks, and I would rather do something unpleasant than rewrite. Sigh. I told my husband the other day that I wished I could find joy in writing again. GMTA :0) I hope your still in a teaching mood.

Buckling in for the ride.

rose mccauley said...

Dear Brandilyn, as I prayed for you this morning I felt God's Spirit telling mine that He would restore your joy and that He would also bless you for being faithful in writing even when you don't feel the joy. You are such a blessing to all who read you, both on this blog and in your books. May you be strengthened in Him. rose