How Badly Do You Want It?

Okay, so I’m a sad case, but this is something I ask myself quite regularly. Especially this weekend as I wandered around feeling sick as a dog with submission doubt. Is my heroine acting out of character or over the top again? Is my hero way too nice? Did I keep my conflict simple enough? Is there enough of it the first chapter? Are their motivations clear?

It’s kind of exhausting feeling like that. As is the rollercoaster of hope and despair that the writer’s journey seems to consist of. And sometimes I think that perhaps I care TOO much about it.

I’ve never had a blinding ambition to be anything. I was librarian for 15 years because a) I liked books and b) I could never get into publishing. And being a librarian suited me very well because it wasn’t too stressful and at the end of the day it meant I could come home and write.
Actually, when I say I never had a blinding ambition to be anything, that’s a small lie. I have always wanted to be a writer. But it wasn’t ever something I thought I would be. It was just one of those nice dreams.
But in the last few years, I’ve realised that perhaps I could be one after all. That perhaps it doesn’t just have to be a nice dream. And whaddya know? It turns out I have ambition after all. And boy does my ambition want this. It wants it SO bad! It cares so deeply about it, that some days I have difficulty switching it off.

The downside of this means that I am a writing bore. I write every day and get grumpy when I don’t. I think about writing obsessively. When it’s not going well, nothing goes well and it’s all bad. I have a love/hate relationship with my inbox and I feel like throwing up every time I get an email from the ed. When I get an R it’s DEVASTATING. When I get a ‘you’ll have to rewrite it from the top’, I’m ECSTATIC. It’s exhausting.
On the upside wanting it badly, caring too much means that I channel all that drama back into my writing. Which does make for lovely, emotional scenes. It also means that giving up is much harder. And….I’m sure there was another upside but maybe not!

So I don’t know, admitting how badly you want something isn’t fashionable these days. You’ve got be ‘well, whatever, I’ll give it a go and if it doesn’t work out, so what’ kind of thing. Some days I wish I did have that attitude. It would be so much easier. But the thing is, that kind of attitude would mean that I probably wouldn’t still be here on sub number 6. I’d have stopped after sub number 1.

Anyway, I’ve tried not to care, believe me. To make this whole process easier on myself and my family. I’ve tried to think, ‘oh well, if it happens it happens and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t’. But you know what? That doesn’t work. No amount of trying will make me care any less about it. So I think I’ll just have to accept that I want this badly. That I care about it very much. That I’ll never be a ‘meh, whatever’ kind of person. And that I’ll just have to live with the hope and despair that comes along with caring far too much for my own good.

Lucky Dr Jax. Ah well, he always knew he was getting a drama queen for a wife. 🙂

So what about all the rest of you? How badly do you want it?

23 thoughts on “How Badly Do You Want It?”

  1. Wow! Yes you do want it and keep going for it 🙂
    I want it bad too, but you wouldn’t think so when i don’t write everyday – but i think about it everyday and i do nut out problems with conflict and character, it’s just sitting down and writing it!

  2. Great post!
    I want it bad… REAL bad! LOL
    I admit to calling in sick to the “real job” so that I could stay home and work on a manuscript. I’ve done that, not once, but twice. Okay. Okay. Maybe three times. 😉

  3. LOL. I’m not a ‘whatever’ kind of person, either. Never have been, never will be. When I set my mind on something, I want it. BAD. And I want to be a successful writer. Successful being what I define it as being, of course. There’s no way I could pretend it isn’t important and I understand when you say, if it’s not working, nothing is. I think you have to want it bad, not just to get published, but to keep at it for the long haul.

  4. Kerrin – well, you’ve got little ones eh? And writing with kids is hard (but not impossible Mrs Maisey Yates!). Nutting out problems is half the battle though so you’re going great guns.

    Tina – When I was at work, I used to do the same! Hehe. Hey, work was something I did so I could write. And you know what? I did NOT feel guilty about it! 😉

    Kaily – So true! Whatever won’t get you published and if it does, it certainly wouldn’t keep you published. Hooray for wanting it BAD I say! That’s the path to success in this industry.

  5. Jackie – its your wonderful determination that WILL get you there in the end. I’ve tried to give up too… it’s not possible. I just only hope that I DO get there one day (that we both DO) or it’ll be very depressing indeedy!

  6. I know just what you mean, Jackie. I won’t pretend I didn’t have an easier (eg shorter) time trying to get in than most. So I didn’t rack up a whole lot of that feeling…but when it hit, in fleeting glimpses, when I pictured my name on the Presents cover…I knew how badly I wanted it. It was frightening in a way, but empowering. Because if you want something that bad you HAVE to go for it.

    Kerrin, and all those with kids and…things, writing every day would be fabulous…it won’t always happen. Here it is midnight and I’ve barely glanced at my WIP today. But I’ve had the kids by myself all week and by the time I’m done I’m..a puddle and I just want to watch mah stories.

    There are days when you’ll just problem solve and brainstorm, days you won’t be able to do anything but survive Life Stuff, and days you’ll get great word count. And days you won’t. It doesn’t mean you don’t want it, or that you aren’t doing it right. It’s that balance stuff. 😉

    And now I’ve taken over Jackie’s blog *slinks away*

  7. Maisey – hehe, maybe you should do a guest blog on writing with kids. 🙂
    It is frightening though. Because if you care a lot then you know how it’s going to hurt when it doesn’t happen. Makes you horribly vulnerable and that’s yucky.

  8. I want it bad too! Thanks for the reminder (and remind me again next time I whine and moan, huh?)

    You really are an inspiration chickie!

    Writing with kids? Man, its hard but I guess you work around that.

  9. Jackie – I sympathise – and I understand. I’ve been there and I know how it feels. When I was first trying to get published – and I was writing with a small son who never slept – I would cram writing in around 1 in the morning.

    When people ask me if they should give up, I always ask them if they can? I know I could never give up making up stories in my head and talking to my characters. I’ve never been one who had – or values – the ‘well whatever’ attitude. I believe that caring about what you’re doing, wanting to get it right, wanting to do it well, is the only way to be.

    But I will say one thing that might help – might not – and that is that when I first started out, I kept what I was doing a total secret. No one knew until I was published. I understand your openness, admire your honesty – but I also know that you are adding to your sense of ‘failing’ when a submission is rejected and you have to come in here and tell everyone. You’re adding extra stress to yourself. I also worry that by being so emotionally involved hat it might mean you’re not reading the editor’s comments clearly enough. Reading those letters emotionally is not the way to go . But *writing* emotion – now that’s a different matter.

    I get the feeling that you are trying so hard to see the ‘must does’ that you’re blinding yourself to the story that needs to be told. The heart of the people you create, the emotions they feel – because they can’t feel anything else. I know when I answered your question about conflict that I felt you were adding ‘complications’ not real, deep emotional conflicts. I meet a lot of would-be writers who are actually quite scared of digging deep enough to make a conflict work – so that add more of ‘then this happens, then that happens’ rather than letting their characters act on an emotional level. Sometimes you just have to give up the analytical approach – that’s for editors not writers – and go with what your characters are telling you.

    As I keep saying in my workshops – it’s all about the emotional journey.

    Good luck

  10. Oh Jackie – I’m so sorry about the repeayted posts – I kept pressing send and the word recognition told me it hadn’t worked so I tried again . . . . Perhaps you can delete some of them! But at least you know I wanted to comment ;O) And at least I did get through . . . six times!

  11. Jackie, there is a fine balance between driving yourself crazy with wanting something and being completely over the top obsessed. I know I crossed that line a number of times while I was waiting to make my first sale. The key is to set your sights on your goal and TRUST that it will happen. It was when I let go of all the day to day angst and focused on what I could control–my writing–that I was the most productive and good things started to happen.

    As for writing with kids, I turned to my eleven year old daughter last night, as she was playing with the kitten in my office and chattering nonstop, and gave her my oh so patient, “Sweetie.” She knew immediately that she needed to quit talking and play invisible. It’s nice that she gets it.

  12. Oooh, Balance (and I capitalize it for a reason). VERY VERY tricky. I hit that very hard “balance” wall years ago in my day job. I had to reach rock bottom before I figured out how to fix it.

    It CAN be done. But it takes hard work and ongoing adjustments – at least it does for me. Learning how to maintain the passion, to be able to enjoy “today” (whatever it brought you), and balance that with a drive/commitment to succeed in the future is quite difficult. Some days I’m good at it. Others, not so much. Nathan Bransford has an excellent post on his blog entitled “The Ten Commandments of a Happy Writer” (or something like that). I have read it many times. It really helps me.

    As you can see, I have no answers for you. No surprise there, eh?

    As always, wishing you the very best of luck, Jackie!!

    Amy

  13. Jackie, ‘whatever’ isn’t in my vocabulary! How long has it been? Certainly is. My biggest issue is patience, with others and with myself, I have none!
    Still contemplating what i have to do to get this right and I still wonder if I’ll ever know…

  14. Kate – Lol! Not to worry, your advice is worth posting that many times. 🙂 Thanks for that. I can understand keeping it a secret – but I don’t think I could. I’m too much of a drama queen. 🙂 But yes, the public journey sometimes is more stress. Then again, it comes around with all the support I receive so on balance, I think I’d rather be open than not. I just have to change my attitude to ‘failing’ I think.
    But you’re spot on when it comes to me being over-analytical. I try too hard and over think. I’m also not good with being obvious. So sometimes my characters act out of what seems like over the top emotion, but it’s just that I wasn’t obvious enough about why they acted that way. And of course, I don’t keep the conflict simple enough – always adding more stuff in there.
    Anyway, that’s something I need to work on and hopefully it’s something I’ve managed in the last sub. We’ll see.
    Thanks for your advice, I appreciate it.

    Caroline – Hehe. Me too!

    Cat – great re your daughter! You’ve got her well trained. What is it with girls that age and chatter? Mine is only 9 but she talks non stop! 🙂
    Yes, trusting is the key huh? I don’t have much trust these days. Add anxiousness into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. I’m a sad case. I need to try meditation or something! 🙂

    Amy – yep, can’t do balance. I’m an all or nothing kind of person. But I think I need learn. *sighs*. Shall check out those 10 tips. Thanks!

    Susan – big hugs. I have no patience either, yet another probably bad thing for a writer. And you DO know. You’re doing it right now. Like Cat said, trust yourself. 🙂

  15. Have you ever read on those articles on Life-Work balance and thought (quite smugly) ‘oh, no my life is perfectly balanced… I’m doing what I love, it’s all good.’ ???

    Well, I do – or rather I did, until I suddenly realised I’m not balanced at all! Writing rules everything, it’s there in my head ALL the time. Plotting, planning, running scenes, getting deep, deep into my heroes POV.

    Oh, yeah. I want this! I want to write stories, I want to see them published, I want readers to laugh and cry and love my characters.

    So, I’m with you Jackie. Wanting this can be exhausting and trying to balance the writing (and the thinking about writing)with all the other demands of life is really difficult – but we wouldn’t be like this, if we didn’t love it.

  16. Jo – ah, a woman after my own heart! Glad to see someone who is obsessive as I am. 😉 Yeah, exhausting is right. And I probably DO need to be a bit more balanced than I am, but then finding the happy medium isn’t something I’ve been able to do in my writing so I’m not surprised I haven’t been able to do it my life either!
    Anyway, yep, love it too much to stop!

  17. I agree with Kate, that you need to centre yourself before reading through an editor’s comments, or you may start misreading or not really hearing what’s being said.

    It’s great to have so much passion, but this job is as much about discipline and being able to write even when maybe you don’t feel as passionate as you should. After a number of novels, that early passion and enthusiasm for your story may start to flag on occasion – that’s when you know you’re a professional writer, because the book still gets written!

    I don’t think blogging about it needs to add to any sense of failure though. If anything, it can act as an extra spur.

    Good luck with the new submission!

  18. Good luck with the new submission Jackie. I do think that writing every day does help huge amounts to keep the momentum going and that’s a big plus. A large part of being successful in writing is discipline, the self-discipline to get stuff down on paper regardless of what the world throws at us. And finally…. to finish. That’s an incredibly difficult thing given all the other distractions and given one’s own inner voice that insists on telling you it’s rubbish, it’s not working etc etc. You obviously do finish, and you do submit and that means you’re very far on the way there. So many people who say they ‘write’ never get round to finishing and never submit and therefore don’t even reach the useful rejection stage. It’s a journey as we all know and for most of us a very long one!

  19. Jane – thanks! Yes, the early passion can fade but I do finish my stories. Most of the time. If anything I have too much discipline – sometimes I need to step away from the computer and go and do something else. 🙂

    Cara – thanks for posting and the advice, Cara! You’re right, it is a long journey. And an exhausting one sometimes. But what can you do but keep going? I can’t not write. 🙂

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