Sunday, December 5, 2010

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

I was wondering, with this daily blog thing, when my weekend would be. It's Friday and Saturday nights, I realize, that I can't post. Friday I hit a wall of torpitude unequaled in writerly circles. Wanted to move but was too busy drooling into my glass of wine, staring sightless into the near distance. Saturday was better and I recovered by looking at the twitter and other blogs I like. I also knit a very uneven scarf for my goddaughter, made chicken stock and wrote 2000 words. Yay me, torpidity over.

The hardest thing about this writer thing is going to be not to psych myself out. Witness it's been less than a week that I've been declaring myself and I already have Evil Inner Editor whispering "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot do you think you are doing?"

So I was simultaneously attracted and appalled by the post last week on Natalie Whipple's Between Fact and Fiction blog. It's a painfully honest reveal about her experience being on submission. I admit, I'm a newbie and I had to read through the blog  before completely understanding what 'on submission' means. In a nutshell, you finish, revise, polish your ms. You query agents. You find an agent that wants to represent you. Champagne corks pop and you think you've made it (I would) and then that same agent shops your ms around. And around and around. For Natalie that's a wait, with major ups and downs of fifteen months. I can't even imagine the agony, especially after you've gotten so far. And it is far, she's obviously got talent and an agency that believes in her. She's done everything right, wrote another ms, polished that, kept positive - and kept the fact of being on submission secret.

While I can't imagine what she's been through I can definitely sympathize. Being a writer, like being an artist (which I've done, too) is so subjective, it's hard to get a handle on how to 'see' yourself. Are you successful? What does that even mean? What validates the often back breaking (at least, how I sit while I write it is) work, the constant doubt of your skill and the monetary sacrifices you make to give your dream it's head. By the way, I hate that last sentence I wrote. It's fairly awful, and using 'dream' in that context is so hokey it's making me a little nauseous. But it's the right word. Writers dream of being able to write - of getting away with doing the thing that seems so easy anyone can do it, yet its so hard to do well.

Writers need to be like those bird-with-top-hat perpetual motion machines, constantly feeding themselves the encouragement they need to go on - while shoveling in the criticism they also need to stay grounded - when no one else can or will do it. Seems to me that writers walk a fine line between being egomaniacs and having egos so fragile they can barely make themselves a cup of coffee without slitting their wrists - often on the same afternoon.

I'm hoping I'm stable enough just to get on with it. Just keep going. That's what Natalie's blog post ultimately made me realize. Keeping going is the only answer to the void.


  1. New York — Longtime nemesis of artists, writers and musicians Evil Inner Editor was found dead in his penthouse apartment Sunday night. Police have yet to comment, but an unidentified source claimed that he appeared to have been beaten with an iron rod over a period of days.

  2. I especially like the 'period of days' - nice sadistic murder for sadistic inner editor. LIKE!


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