Wednesday, January 24, 2007

At a Loss for Words

I sat down today, and I had absolutely nothing to say on this blog. The first thing I thought was What if I've said all I've have to say? and then What if I've written all the ideas I have? What if I have no more ideas?

So I found a picture. The Virgin Reading, by Vittore Carpaccio.

I probably have nothing to say because I just finished doing my taxes. Isn't that awesome? My brain's fried. But this year:

  • I spent 25% of writing income on books.
  • DH and I only argued twice. (About the only time we argue.)
  • I didn't CRY!

Can you tell I'm frazzled? I forgot the point of the above.

Right, I remember: there's always more ideas. There's always more to say.

Everyone has to take their own path, but I know of someone who has finished a novel. She hasn't written anything since then (at least two years ago), and has been shopping it around for two years. It's getting nibbles, and I have no doubt she will publish it.

The thing is, she won't work on her second book. Is she afraid she doesn't have another book in her? I know I was afraid of the same thing after my first story. I was afraid that I had written all I had. It's a valid fear.

If possible, it'd be great to confront that fear before launching a career. And who wants to face that fear of the second novel with rusty skills?

(Don't worry. It's no one here, no one anyone knows, and no one who knows me, LOL. But I don't think she's alone.)

How frazzled am I? I'm going to jump back to the second topic.

I'm done with taxes!! Filed and everything!!! I don't have to do them for a whole 'nother year!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

14 bonus scribbles:

meljean brook 1/24/2007 10:30:00 PM  

The second novel was tough -- I loved writing DEMON ANGEL and was shocked/pleased by how well it turned out, and I really loved the characters for the next one, but there was the HUGE nagging fear of: what if I can't make a decent story out of this?

And I do know that there's no way every novel can be of the same quality or carry the same excitement (for the reader or writer) but I do hope that I learn and get better. And some of those fears going in to the second novel--that need to prove myself--give an additional push to the finish.

I think that I was lucky in that I was under deadline for a proposal (a month after finishing DEMON ANGEL) so I couldn't waffle around and give in to that worry. Or else I might be in the same situation: wondering if I do have a second book in me, instead of writing it.

(Of course, now I'm worrying that maybe I don't have the third book in me... *g*)

The Dark Scribe 1/24/2007 11:21:00 PM  

Congrats on finishing your taxes. Take a couple deep breaths and relax. You deserve it!

I think every writer is intimate with the fear of facing Paul Bunyan's Writer's Block. And while some authors, at the end of their careers, probably do feel that they've said all they have to say, I think that attitude usually stems from being tired. Because let's face it, generating new ideas and making them fresh and exciting and engaging is a lot of hard work.

I finished my first novel last October (actually, it was my second, but the first was so God-awful that I couldn't even edit it), and immediately launched into the sequel. I'll admit that writing the sequel has been more difficult than writing the first one, but I think that's because I'd spent nearly six months editing the first one, during which time I did very little writing. So my habit had deteriorated slightly, but as I kept going, it came back, and now I'm really excited about the new one.

There is also the fear of repetition. Because I'm writing a series, and many of the same characters appear, I've had to be careful not to revisit the same ideas, techniques and plotlines that I used in the first one.

Anyway, I don't think you need to worry about running out of ideas. I've long held the belief that there's an endless well somewhere, and every creative person has access to it. (This helps explain how you'll find some very specific instances of other authors using your material, even though you've never met and you haven't published your material yet). Sometimes we have to lean way over the side to fish out our ideas, but they're there, waiting for us to cast our nets (an example of what I was talking about before--Stephen King uses a very similar analogy in his new book, Lisey's Story...but this is something I've been saying for years and years).

Okay, I've blathered on enough. Sorry for such a long post...

spyscribbler 1/24/2007 11:38:00 PM  

Meljean, I love deadlines. I love them. I have difficulty working without deadlines. Heck, I have difficulty working with deadlines. Hah!

Dark Scribe, I love longs posts! Oh gosh, love them--post away! I really love that people come here and comment. You guys all say such interesting things.

Fiction ideas, I have plenty; I'm not worried about them. I love what (Chekhov?) said when asked where he gets his ideas. He picked up an ashtray and said, "I'm going to write a story about an ashtray today." For fiction, I just pick something. I have an idea file so long, that I don't need to think of another idea for the rest of my life, LOL.

Blogging? LOLOL ... that remains to be seen. I hope there's some non-fiction fish down there. *giggle*

The Dark Scribe 1/24/2007 11:50:00 PM  

I'm sure the non-fiction fish exist. Probably even blogger fish, too. Maybe you need to change your bait :)

Rob Gregory Browne 1/25/2007 12:32:00 AM  

Taxes. Oh, God. I dread them. Loathe them. Thankfully I use a tax program and that takes care of it.

But as my writing life gets more complicated (conferences, promotion, etc.), my taxes become more complicated as well.

Ugh.

Therese Fowler 1/25/2007 11:54:00 AM  

Interesting, the things that can prevent an author from going on to another book.

Alice Sebold (author of THE LOVELY BONES) owes her publisher a second novel, for example, but seems to be unable or unwilling to write it for fear of never living up to TLB's standard.

I'm with you, SS, no shortage of fiction ideas. Shortage of TIME, shortage of ENERGY, but plent of ideas.

Now, about getting my taxes done...

Avery 1/25/2007 12:17:00 PM  

I had a huge bout of, "Is this all I have?" around mid-book of my first novel. Then, while sitting in the waiting room of the local Ford dealership, I had the idea for the second. After that, I figured they'd just keep coming (for a while, anyway). Soon after, the idea for a third surfaced.

hMaybe I'll have a re-visitation of the same issue once I've started writing the third, but for now, I'm happy to plug away knowing I didn't tap out my brain in one shot.

Christina Rundle 1/25/2007 12:46:00 PM  

I had that fear too when I was writing my first novel, but then when I put that last line on it and read it, everything clicked, but I still carry that fear, "What about the next book?" Why is that? We want to be writers, we spend so much time writing, then when we are done with our project, we believe that's it? I'm scared, because I know that I'm okay for about this book and the next, but what about after that? Am I going to pull things together for another series? Yeah, I feel that fear.

Mark 1/25/2007 04:01:00 PM  

I'm putting this here so you get it. Two fantastic spy novels featuring a brilliant, complex female spy.

Both by Greg Rucka: "A Gentleman's Game" and "Private Wars." Highly recommended.

spyscribbler 1/25/2007 04:07:00 PM  

Dark Scribe, HAH!!! Blogger Fish! I love it. I'm going to have to find a picture of my very own blogger fish!

Rob, I hear you. My day job is self-employment, so having to file TWO Schedule C's is just an exercise in torture. In fact, until this year, I never reported my writing expenses because it was just too darned complicated. I just didn't feel like it, LOL.

spyscribbler 1/25/2007 04:13:00 PM  

Therese, I hear you. I didn't know that about Alice. I keep meaning to read that book.

That's awesome, Avery. Your post yesterday gave me a whole slew of short story ideas. Thank you!

LOL, Christina. I feel the fear, too. Or felt it. I overcompensate when I feel fear. Now I have a file of thirty short story ideas (in case of emergency), six novellas, two series (of which eight novels are thought out), and three women's fiction novels.

It took me all that to get over the fear. :-)

spyscribbler 1/25/2007 04:18:00 PM  

Thank you, Mark! Er ... I should say, er ... um. How should I say it? I love the idea, and goddess knows I'm dying for some good, kickass, female espionage, but ... er ...

If I'm to be totally honest, Mark, I wasn't at all kidding or being nice when I said you're the only male author I know who's managed to write first person female believably for me.

There are authors who I like the work so much I'll shelve my disbelief, but ... you're it, honestly. Granted, I've only read a handful or two of males writing first person female.

But really, thank you! I did buy the first one! Maybe I need to give it another go.

meljean brook 1/25/2007 09:18:00 PM  

I second the Greg Rucka recommendation. His females are fantastic.

spyscribbler 1/25/2007 09:39:00 PM  

Really? You're kidding. Huh. Okay, maybe I'll give it another go. It's still sitting at my bedside, waiting.

Come to think of it, I started it when I first hurt my foot. Agony does impair judgement, LOL.