Saturday, September 29, 2012

Because I Don't Live in the Real World

I had my two days of discouragement. I admit to getting close to tears on the tomato sauce and canned pea aisle of the grocery store. (Canned peas are plenty of reason to cry, believe me!) But now I'm entering another writing contest. The amazing crew over at Writer Therapy.com reminded me of one reason I write. I love the created world of books. I may fall asleep thinking of ways to fix my plot or strengthen a character's motivation. Someone once told me, "I can't read fiction. How can you stand stories that aren't real?"

My answer: How can you stand a life that doesn't include the power of story? It gives us an escape. Yet stories help us understand the rest of life--insight, empathy, even hope. If my character can fight off flames with a fire extinguisher and a bottle of root beer, I can re-write his query for the 101rst time.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why We Do This Writing Thing

Wanting Less is Easier than Having More --Mary Ellen Edmunds.

 I used to win contests. Sometimes, of course. Two years back, I got two honorable mentions in the Writer's Digest contest. Last year and this year, I sent in more entries, hoping to win something bigger. Instead, I didn't even place. I just got my thanks but no thanks e-mail yesterday.

 I confess I'm getting worried. I fear the competition is increasing, and I won't be able to keep up. I wish I could have had good writing resources about 10 years earlier, instead of writing drivel in secret, on my own. That's a fruitless wish, however, until someone can invent me a time machine. (If that happens, I have a few other things I'd like to fix while I'm at it. Including that 80's big hair!)

 How many times in your writing career have you asked yourself, "Why am I doing this? Should I just give up?" I've asked that many times, most recently today. I do know, however, that when I don't write, I have to fulfill that restless creative engine inside me with something else. Making weird concoctions out of chocolate and peanut butter. Spending $100 at the craft store for--what? I have a closet full of paints, scrapbook supplies, clay I'd like to sculpt, etc. At least this time I have a purpose for my crafting. I'm going to donate some of the crafts I've made; necklaces, a clay Santa or two, plus some new ones: painted pillows, plates, earrings (my girls are much better at making those, so it's a family project) for the upcoming Mothers Without Borders Craft Sale (Nov. 2nd in SLC.)

 Which makes me think about Africa and how petty my whining is. I've been listening to Mary Ellen Edmund's CD about her experiences in Nigeria. She talked about her work helping establish health education teachers in a small town there, how little the villagers had, both in material things and free time. I have running water. I don't have to kill poultry. I can buy neatly-packaged, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Those people work hard to make a living. Most can never even dream of things like publishing a book. I have lots to appreciate, and despite health problems, teenagers who are wonderful but still teenagers, etc, I have to remember my life is good.

 So why is getting published a source of so much stress to me? For lots of reasons, I can't seem to give it up. Rick Walton says the people who try hard enough, who don't stop working at it, eventually get published. I hope that's still true. What do you think? Is the market even harder to publish in lately? Tell me why you write. What makes it worth it, despite all the hard things? Just when I was about to give up on writing back in 2009, I won a contest. What events, internal or external, keep you motivated?