the good, the bad, and the ugly about the writing life

The Grass is Always Greener: Part 1

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A couple months ago, I was feverishly making the final changes to my second novel, Death and the Motherlode, and getting ready to ship it off to my editor. While I was working against a deadline, all I could think about was how great it was going to be to begin the next book. No hot, hot deadlines. No tying up loose ends. And, definitely, no worries about proper manuscript format.

I was looking forward to sitting at my favorite Starbucks close to home, slurping a peppermint mocha with a slice of gingerbread to hand, and staring out into space. There I would have both world enough and time to dream of new characters, funny new situations, and even more messes to get Paulette into and out of.

Fast forward to last weekend, when I was sitting at the local Panera Bread waiting for inspiration to hit.  And waiting.  I spent most of my afternoon reading a Michael Dibdin book about a sleuth named Zen and feeling vaguely restless. When I imagined working on the new book, it seemed exciting and fun and stress-free. When I was actually working on the new book, I felt as if I was swinging wildly on a trapeze without anyone at the other end to catch me. Looking back on it, the time spent finishing the last book seemed useful and worthwhile and safe. This new book was scary.

And I’m not the only fiction writer who thinks the grass is always greener somewhere else. I’ve heard some of these same sentiments from the students in my fiction writing class (see my earlier blog entries for Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 ) and from fellow writers. So, are all we fiction writers irresistible cranks or certifiable contrarians? Not exactly.

Check back later this week for my answer to those who think that we writers are all cranks.

6 Responses to “The Grass is Always Greener: Part 1”

  1. michaelalexanderchaney

    Wonderfully written. I enjoyed sitting with you for a while slurping sugar caffeine and chewing over gingered bread and greener grass. I think, as your post makes clear, writing is just plain hard. Egoistically, emotionally, and intellectually draining, sometimes agonizing work. We are tough people who do it. And it’s nice sometimes to get glimpses of the various ways we reward ourselves as we do our tough work–joyously, dreamily, and sometimes even complaining all the way.

  2. Shauna

    Thank you for the window into your process and your engaging sense of humor (she wrote while sipping her matching peppermint mocha lol.) It’s brave to admit when you’re scared and pushing through it anyway is courageous! Looking forward to hearing more of your “voice” and wanted to say that I really enjoyed your series on BBB. Also BIG KUDOS for 2 novels! – can’t wait to read them, so keep us posted about when they’re coming out.


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