“Um, a little help, please!” — getting an Rx from a writing-doc

I’m in limited-writing mode right now. On purpose: orders from my new writing coach.

I’ve written multiple 300+ word manuscripts. I’ve been an active part of writers’ groups for over seven years. A Chicago Manual of Style and a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (both well-thumbed) sit front-and-center on my desk. I’ve even had a literary agent once.

[Hmmm. I’ve stopped writing, at my previous sentence, for a while now. I’ve been finding excuses to do things other than going forward with this post. I “needed” to check my e-mail. And play spider-solitaire. And take a drink of water. And go to the bathroom. Riiiiight. Those things all “prevented” me from knocking out the minimum one-post-a-week — a measly little 500 words a week! — that I’ve committed myself to doing on this blog.

Sorry, no. What I’m really doing is mental-blocking because I’m about to admit my failures as a writer. And that’s not a fun thing to do.]

You see, despite all of my hard work — even the achievement of scoring an agent (for eight months, back in 2008, until she quit being an agent) — I’m still not published. Which means I’ve never earned a penny from this endless drive inside of me to write. Which means I’m nowhere close to being able to making a living at it. Which means my endless drive is currently headed toward nothing.

As the rejections pile up Self-Doubt grows like a cancer, anchoring its tentacles into the weakened foundations of my confidence. No one will hear your voice…, your thoughts…, your passions…. Ever!

But giving-up isn’t going to stop my need to write. I do want need my voice to be heard. And I get positive feedback from enough readers that I think I have a chance, if I can just figure out what it is that I’m missing. So I’m fighting back.

Just as one would go to the doctor to diagnose an illness, I hired a writing coach to help diagnose what was wrong with my writing. In our first session (so far), she listened to my background about where I’m at with my writing. She read my synopsis of The American (the cliffhanger-ending one), and she got through the first four pages of my manuscript. First-and-best of all: she likes my story. ( :)! ) But based on my “symptoms,” she said she thinks I’m at about seventy-five percent of where I need to be. (Hey, by Rotten Tomato standards, that would make me more than “certified fresh!” 🙂 :)) She then recommended that I read three books (Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass; Hooked, by Les Edgerton; and Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron). Then she wants me to revise my first fifty pages and meet with her again.

I’m wading my way through the Donald Maass book, which I found easily at B&N. The others just arrived in the mail yesterday. (Btw, I’ve been rejected by Donald Maass, personally, on two different manuscripts. Yes, feel free to regard me with awe: I’ve been rejected by the best. *tosses head*) It feels like I’m in school again, and I’m cramming for finals. I really hope I can do this. I have to do this. It’s what’s in me. It’s who I am. I. Am. A. Writer!

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6 thoughts on ““Um, a little help, please!” — getting an Rx from a writing-doc

  1. I feel like I’ve thought the same things. You’ve been at it longer (and have more dedication), but I feel like I have to do this. I must have my voice heard. I’m beginning to think I’m crazy. Is this a form of insanity?

    Ps: from what I’ve read so far, I think you have what it takes. 🙂

    • Yes, it probably IS a form of insanity, and this is how it has to come out. YOU totally have what it takes — especially in your genre! And thank you, for being one of my readers! (Thought that was you…! 😉 )

  2. I do admire your dedication and work ethic. And yes, if you feel that drive, that obsession that just will not leave you alone, YOU ARE A WRITER! Lord help, I am too…:)

    ‘Failures’ is such a judgmental word. Maybe ‘wandering in the dark’ might be better … in a way … maybe? It may be all our efforts need is the right proximity, the correct grouping, of the ingredients we already possess for the spark of talent to kindle the flame of recognition. And your writing doctor may be just what’s needed to achieve that.

    I’m curious to hear how this goes for you. And I’m also curious how you chose this particular mentor. What caused you to decide she was not a ‘failure’ at her position? Seems like that would be quite hard to pin down.

    P.S. – I too have been turned down by Don Maass. A true rejection highlight…;)

    • Oh, yes, Doug — you ARE a writer! And a damn good one, at that. My writing coach is actually the founder of the Boulder Writers’ Workshop, and her clients have won numerous awards. One of her current clients, Judy Rose (http://www.jrrose.net/), also a BWW member, just signed with the Sheldon Fogelman Agency — and turned down Don Maass in the process! So I figured she (the coach) knew what she was doing. 😉

  3. You are a writer! There is no doubt about it. I have to remind myself that writers get turned down by hundreds of agents before you find the right one.

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