Donna Everhart

Perpetual Elevator

There’s nothing better than to read an article, blog post, or hear in an interview where a best selling author explains they continue to go through the very same things as writers who have never been published before.  Things like how each and every new book they work on, they feel they have to  learn to write all over again, or that they experience the same jittery nervousness about a new project they are starting, or how they worry over whether the story is any good, and last, what people will really think of it.  We read these things over and over, to help ourselves manage how we’re doing.  That lather, rinse, repeat sort of drill.

It also helps to write about it ad nauseum, hence today’s post.

About a month ago, I won first place (wheee!) in a contest out on Betsy Lerner’s blog.  The prize was a copy of Rosemary Mahoney’s sixth book, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO SEE.  Among Ms. Mahoney’s other experiences in the writing process, she indicated she shared the same view I have regarding what I see when I sit down to a blank computer/laptop screen.  And, Betsy’s blog is full of writers who have seen it all.  Success.  Failure.  Recrimination.  Glory.  Despair.  Personality disorders.  Medications to fix that.  Or alcohol.   There is a quirky little blurb off to the right of her page that puts it into perspective with her typical wry sense of humor.  It says, “Depressed? Anxious? You’ve come to the right place.  We accept all forms of insurance at The Lerner Rehabilitation Center for bitter writers.”  Well, I’m not bitter, but there may be some who are.

Whatever I read, whatever I subscribe to, eventually, at some point, a writer’s “feelings” come out during the process, and the list from above goes on.  Flattered.   Anguished.   Joyful.  Doubtful.  Encouraged.  Worried.  Elated.  Flattened.  The struggle to make the writing work.  The thought the writing is great, followed by the thought of hitting DELETE.  That could all happen in ten seconds.  If you want to know how it feels on any one given day, I can tell you.  Up, down, up, down.  Whichever way, welcome to the perpetual elevator called writing for a living.  (which sounds like an oxymoron at the  moment)

I’ve learned to try and ignore the emotional distress.  (who am I kidding?)  I don’t know why we are like this.  I had no idea I’d be like this.  It’s not that we’re special, far from it.  Most everyone wants to succeed, to be good at something.  But writers?  We want to be loved – our writing, that is, but ourselves, too.  We want to be swooned over.  We want flocks, no, make that droves of fans dying for an autograph, not the sound of crickets at a book signing.  We want someone telling us every five seconds how wonderful we are, and that no one, but no one can write like “us.”  Well.  That’s a bit much.  Almost like that number one fan in MISERY.  No.  Thank.  You.  I may only need my fingers to type, but I’d still like to keep both my feet.

We study sentences like we’re studying for the SAT’s.  We dwell over award winning authors, bestsellers, and scrutinize the reviews, searching out why a particular story is loved.  We compare our work, try to spot the weaknesses and the strengths.  We dream about writing a bestseller, we have nightmares about writing a bestseller.  We try to ignore all of the bad and only think of the good.

Our work stays hidden for a long time.  Months, sometimes years goes by before anyone else sees it, or if anyone gets a peek, it’s very few.  And when it comes to putting it out there, we go through that lather, rinse, repeat cycle again, and again.  We remember the one’s who made it, and try to remember they’ve been here too, and felt just like this.  They said so.  Despite the very apparent frailty of a writer’s psyche, we’re ready or we wouldn’t have let it go – no sugar coating, please.  Well, maybe just a little sprinkle.

How are you feeling about your writing?  Is your elevator on the way up, or going down?





6 thoughts on “Perpetual Elevator”

  1. I agree with you, I do love hearing about how published authors, some of them Big Names™, have the same/similar struggles, doubts, and fears as the rest of us.

    Currently, though pen isn’t to the page, I feel very positive about my writing. I’m thinking of an April project in a circumspect way, and avoiding the editing process on a finished WIP.

    1. I know! It must be the norm to go through it each and every time…(oh goody)

      I am happy for you about your writing – with a project in mind for April – Spring! The editing is always hard…but when you get it fine tuned, so worth it. I hope to get THE END typed in the next 4-6 weeks. Then it’s editing for me, and hopefully I can be as optimistic about that as I was in the previous post. (filed under things that make me go hmmmm.)

  2. “We compare our work, try to spot the weaknesses and the strengths. We dream about writing a bestseller, we have nightmares about writing a bestseller.”
    Amen sista’ amen.

    Mr Otis and I know each other well and right now I’m in his little moving box heading up and feeling very good about the ride. I’m done with the sub-basement level.

    This is a great post BTW.
    Cliche’ alert… you hit the 10 penny right on the head.

    1. I knew you could relate. (Heaven help us, right??)

      It’s good to hear you feel good about it. After I wrote this post, I went out on my run yesterday and OMG. I had one of those kinds of runs where all of the problem spots in my story started clicking into place. I’d been struggling with what do I do about this, this, and this (i.e. in Perfectionism and Puzzle Pieces I mentioned all those moving parts) and somehow, I’ve figured it out. So, even if I don’t keep ALL of my ideas, I’ve written them into my notes and can see a way forward.

      Btw – that cliche alert? I’ve never heard that one before! LOL!

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