Friday, February 28, 2014

Break on Through to the Other Side

by Maggie Marr

Tonight, as I write this, I am exhausted. Whipped. Tired. A half centimeter to the left of drained. I have 66 pages to edit on my latest book and it is 11:08 pm. I usually get up at 4 am to write and go to bed by 9, but tonight, well tonight was family night. Plus a few documents for clients hit my inbox. Documents that had to be turned around by tomorrow. Thus my late night and perhaps my fatigue.

But fatigue is not an excuse to not write. Neither is exhaustion, jobs, children, in-laws, graduations, vacations, husbands, parents or [insert ANY excuse here]. I will give illness a pass as long as you're sporting a fever. Really there is no valid excuse not to make your fingers do the tippity-tappity dance across the keyboard. None. Nada. You either want to finish the manuscript or you don't. You either sit your ass in the chair or you don't. You either work harder for the win than the next person or you don't.

These are simple facts. They are so basic they remind me of 2 + 2 = 4. And yet these are facts that I attempt to avoid ALL THE TIME. My attempt is due to FEAR. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of exposure. Fear of ... who the hell knows what else, but fear. Fear is a four letter word, and I love most four-letter words. I have the mouth of a well-educated sailor. But the word F-E-A-R well that one scares the heck out of me.

My fear is a conundrum and the way I tame that fear is counterintuitive. I must surrender to my fear. I accept that fear is part of my process and sometimes, fear is even my friend.

My process usually involves the following:

1. Think of FABULOUS title.

2. Hear voices of characters. Learn names.

3. Begin first draft.

4. Have no idea how to get from middle of Act 2 to beginning of Act 3.
    4.5 Pull out hair.
    4.6 Gnash teeth.
    4.7 Pace, eat potato chips, watch trashy TV, sometimes forget to shower.

5. Finish first draft.

6. Realize fabulous title is NOT fabulous. Rename project.

7. Put book away and vow only 2 weeks!

8. 2 weeks becomes 3 weeks.

9. 3 weeks becomes...OH SHIT I HAVE A DEADLINE.

10. Pull out book. Read.

11. See 4.5-4.7

12. Begin NEVER ENDING REWRITE THAT I WILL DIE TRYING TO DO.

13. See 4.5-4.7

14. Edit horrible book.

15. Send to editor.

16. Reread and love.

17. 24 hours later reread and hate.

18. More passes. More edits. Again can NOT find solution to end of 2nd act beginning of 3rd act problem that at this point may or may not exist. Who knows??

19. Loathe this project.

20. New project, new characters whisper love-nothings in my ear (Worthless Whores! (please see above reference to Sailor Swearing)) as I grow weary of current project. 

21. Finally send off book.

22. See 4.5-4.7

23. Feel brief, ever-fleeting sense of accomplishment.

24. Begin new project. See 1

25. Reminisce about project when book pubs. 

And yet, I LOVE THIS JOB. Crazy? Well, yes. Of course. Who willingly does the above over and over and over again (now more than 10 times). No one is forcing me to write -- well except those characters in my head whispering to me. I've tried to stop writing, but they continue to whisper.

All through the above there is FEAR and LOVE. I live that battle day in and day out. Every day. I give love the advantage by telling myself there is no excuse, by forcing my butt into the chair, by truly enjoying my characters and my stories and this brilliant beautiful gift that whatever Force runs this universe gave me. A gift, of which I am not yet worthy, nor is my craft good enough to do justice. I ask myself, who am I to turn my back on such a gift? What hubris to let my petty human FEAR destroy this gift and win out over LOVE.

No, not I. I will not fail in this fight, even when it involves bags and bags of potato chips. Yes, I will sacrifice my thighs for my art. I will get through 1-25 over and over and over again and I will always break through to the other side.


Broken Glamour, a project that I love and now fondly remember.


Maggie Marr is an author and attorney. The Glamour Series is her latest new adult contemporary romance series. Hard Glamour published January 2014 and Broken Glamour publishes spring 2014. She is also the author of the Hollywood Girls Club Series, Courting Trouble, and Can't Buy Me Love. Please click here to get Maggie's newsletter. She won't get spammy, but she will give one lucky subscriber a gift every time she sends a newsletter. Maggie lives and works in Los Angeles.  
 


36 comments:

  1. Oh Maggie this so made me laugh!!! I saw myself in so much of your process. :)

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    1. This comment makes me happy. I LOVE to make readers laugh nearly as much as love to swear, and while I know when I swear, I rarely know when I've made a reader laugh. xoMaggie

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  2. Maggie, sometimes I think I'm the only one shivering and shaking and then crying and smiling, full of all the things you mentioned, including a terrible sense of self-doubt. You nailed it. Great job and damn, you work too hard.

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    1. Sheila, I too do that. Then I write a post like this and hear from my writer friends and their understanding and camaraderie makes the process seem less crazy. Cheers to the beautiful insanity that is this calling and this process. xoMaggie

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  3. I loved this post! And I also love the rain!

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    1. The rain is brilliant today! Love it when it rains in Cali. xoMaggie

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  4. thank you for putting it so perfectly. I UNDERSTAND!
    Also, I needed that kick in the pants, so well timed. :)
    Love your book cover, as always! Wishing you great success with this project.
    Rainy days are great days to write, no?

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    1. Thank you, Lynne! Yes, rainy days are brilliant days to write. Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations did the cover for the entire Glamour Series--Love them!

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  5. Awesome post. It really resonated with me especially now as I have one novel on submission and am starting a new one. Very sexy cover!

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    1. Thank you, Karin! The writing process is a bit like laundry at my house; never-ending.
      xoMaggie

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  6. Huh, I wrote a long post and the internet ate it. Burp!
    I once had a book titled something like: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. I think it applies to writing so I do try to embrace the many stages of the process. It's similar to childbirth: excitement, preparation, dragging of time, cumbersome weight gain, fear that something might go wrong, prayers that it will soon be over, exhaustion, excitement again, pain at delivery, joy at the arrival, worry, sleeplessness, swearing I will never do it again. : )

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  7. Robena, you are so right! xoMaggie

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  8. My comment disappeared so here's the abbreviated retread: Great post, Maggie! And now they make chicken and waffle flavored potato chips - just the idea is gross!

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    1. Ewwww. No offense to anyone who loves the chicken and waffle chip but I am a straight-up potato chip with salt girl. Sometimes if I'm feeling really wild I'll make up french onion dip to go with.

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  9. Wait - that's my process. Except the editor and publishing part ;-). Thanks for reminding us newbies to embrace the fear, because publishing is not a magic wand that banishes it. Off for a bag of potato chips.

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  10. Embrace the fear. Love the fear. Hug it tight and make it your own, and then go eat a potato chip. Or run, running is better for you than the potato chips, but not nearly as tasty.

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  11. Congrats, Maggie on getting it done. My process is similar. Hard work and lots of it. xo

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    1. Pamela,
      Thank you for commenting. Thinking of you. Much love.
      xoMaggie

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  12. This is so me! Hugs hon - you are an inspiration!

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    1. Thank you, Christine! YOU are fab partner in crime. xoMaggie

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  13. Wait. Now you're scaring me. Why have I decided to embark on this journey? Oh, yeah, because it keeps calling to me. That's one of the great things about being a newbie - ignorance. It truly is blissful.

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    1. The writing, it remains blissful for me. I love being in the moment with my characters and time flies by. The editing and rewriting--now those two things kick my tush every time!
      xoMaggie

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  14. LOVED reading your process, Maggie...you spoke for us all!!
    And congrats on finishing your latest ;).

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    1. Thank you, Marilyn! I adore the 'all' part--makes me feel a little less nutty. xoxoMaggie

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  15. MM, it's like you were writing to me when you wrote this post. I'm literally sitting here at my keyboard, in my PJ's, eating Doritos and thinking, "Maybe I'll just hit some blogs, and then power down and try to write extra hard tomorrow...." But you're right, fatigue isn't an excuse not to write, nor is being stuck, and nobody's going to un-stick me except me, (and you, via this post). ;) THANKS!

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    1. Sam, every writer in the world is right there with you some days. Soldier on my friend! Soldier on! xoMaggie

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  16. Fantastic post, Maggie!! If I were five inches taller I'd consider having it tattooed down my backside! Yes.. uh-huh... that's how it works!

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    1. Thank you, Laura! Some days I love the process, some days I hate the process. . . but it is a process! xoMaggie

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  17. Nice post.
    I'm so glad you let love win over fear and get to the other side.
    I'm a sucker for Salt and Vinegars but I try to never keep them in the house.

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  18. So well described. It's always a struggle. But that's what makes seeing the book finished so satisfying.

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    1. Yes, I love a finished book! I also do love the process. . . most the time. I suppose writing is like any other job, there are parts of the job that are harder than other BUT I do believe that it is one of the most wonderful jobs in the world! xoMaggie

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  19. Yes, I am a day late... at meetings all day yesterday. I needed this post. I resemble this post to the point that I am thinking about getting up and doing exercise rather than write!

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    1. Mia, thank you for commenting. I've gone back to yoga and added running into my routine. . . to offset the chips. xoMaggie

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  20. Hate to say this--but it seems to be working for you! I'm all over #s 17, 19, and 20. My thighs testify to that!

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    1. Ha! Instead of measuring words written per book I should measure pounds gained. I've started exercising again. Our work is so sedentary. It is easy for me to sit 8, 10, 12 hours a day! Next up-treadmill desk! xoMaggie

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