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–Laraine Herring, Writing Begins with the Breath
I can’t believe that March is half-way over, and I haven’t posted since January. Too much going on, as usual. In addition to my web design projects, I’m doing two publishing internships, one online and the other in-office, which by the way, has some of the best views of the San Francisco bay:
Here’s a look at my “desk” where I spend my day reading query letters, synopses and manuscripts:
Then on my days “off” I read manuscripts for my other editorial internship. Their process is all done online, which gives me a different perspective and a greater appreciation for Submittable.com. At the literary agency, we’re still looking at email attachments and snail mail. There’s something about going about it old school, especially when we’re talking about reading books. The volume of work these creative writers send us continues to amaze me. And as a writer, I know very well that it takes years to write a novel or memoir, years past the spark of inspiration and years past when you think it’s finished before it finally gets published.
The other day I was listening to a conversation between agents about a manuscript they were anticipating. The writer had updated his agent on the novel he was revising. He had sent it to a freelance fiction editor who had similar editing suggestions. But he said he needed to put it away for about six months before he could sink back into it. The agent working with him was a little disappointed but then said, “That just means the novel will be even better.” She was willing to wait six more months (or more) for a better story. More importantly, she trusted the creative process of her author. It made me wonder why creative writers, myself especially included, don’t do the same?
It’s been over a year and I still haven’t finished a new short story I’ve been working on. Instead, I’ve been immersed in design projects and other, less creative, writing. I’ve been beating myself up for doing everything and anything except going back into that story. I’d heard of an upcoming deadline of a journal that might be a fit for another short story, so rather than working on the story I should be working on, I got knee deep into revising another. The deadline passed, and I continued to work on it, even sending it to my fiction editor, with the intention that the new story would soon follow. That “new” short story still sits on my desk untouched. Then another story of mine, which had been languishing in submission-land for two years, was finally accepted. You’d think this would inspire me to finally finish that short story I started last year. I still haven’t picked it up. Then out of an unexpected opportunity, the story I was revising was accepted by another magazine! I realize now, if I hadn’t jumped through all those hoops to avoid working on a story, another may not have been published. I’m trying not to beat myself up so much for not writing what I should be writing, although there remains a gnawing itch in the back of my mind that maybe it’s time to finally take a look at that short story I’ve been avoiding…
What about your creative writing process? How do you balance the ebb and flow of inspiration with the effort and work it takes to write a
story? We creative writers are fond of putting up distractions between us and actual writing and then beat ourselves up for doing it, which, not surprisingly, doesn’t do much to inspire more writing, but have you ever found that some of these distractions have actually helped your creative writing process? If so, how has taking a breath from writing helped you write your stories better?