Passion vs. the Slog

Dear Readers:

I learned an interesting fact recently. According to Bill Nye, the Science Guy, all life long passions are formed in humans before we reach the age of ten. If that is true, I decided I wanted to pursue science, specifically a career in medical science, somewhere around fourth grade, when I didn’t have a clue how disease, illness, and diagnoses fit together. But I followed that path and had a wonderful yet challenging career for a number of years.

So where did this interest in writing come from so late in life? I’d had ample opportunities to compose technical stuff in my former professional endeavors but in that sphere one can’t be creative – only factual. So writing from my imagination should be much easier, right? Au Contraire. I had scads to learn. I attended classes, read journals devoted to the how’s of writing, and just plain slogged along trying things out and then listening to feedback (which can be a humbling experience.)

Once I had an idea for my story, I thought “Ah, now the tough part is behind me and there’s smooth sailing ahead.” Ha! Somewhere in the midst of eight point plotting, the art of the surprise ending, arcs galore (for characters, chapters, the entire story), punctuation and grammar challenges, along with beta readers, editors, and what seems like a hundred versions of my plot, I realized (duh!) this writing is hard work. I slowly realized the best thing that has happened to me are the criticisms that come my way. They spur me to do more, learn more, keep trying, sometimes in a flash of inspiration, but more often at a slow, analytical pace, which takes patience, concentration, and dogged determination rather than a frenzied burst of energy which fizzles. You know the old saw “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”? At this rate, I should be the Atlas of the writing world.

So, once again, I prepare queries and contact agents as the big wait for responses resumes. This is actually a pleasant lull; a time for me to catch up, refresh. The past weekend, I attended a workshop on crafting compelling scenes. What? you say. Isn’t that so basic? Yes but it sure was fun sitting in a room crowded with hopeful writers, all of us getting re-inspired, and me getting some affirmations of what I suspected were needed to improve my craft. Next I had better start attacking my to do list: clean the garage, bake some bread, and jot down ideas for tome number two. The plot thickens.

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