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:~: Friday, June 09, 2006 :~:

DIY: Doing It The Hard Way

For the last thirteen months, I've been involved in a full-house renovation that was supposed to take a year.

One year, and I would have a whole, brand-new house without the accompanying mortgage.


It's thirteen months later, and one-third of my home is new. We're still making progress -- the living room has had the carpet and fireplace ripped out, and my kitchen has been reduced to nothing but the refrigerator and a temporary sink. The plan was to complete the main living area this summer.


That plan tanked this week. Because we are behind schedule, we haven't put in the floor in the living room . . . and now we can't because that means covering over the return vent for the air conditioning . . . which I really need since the forecast is for 101 degrees tomorrow.


The new plan involves moving to work on the master bath and letting the living areas wait until after hot weather has passed.

This is what I've learned from my adventures in DIY-ville: (a) redoing a house is hard work (b) one learns a lot (c) nothing goes as planned.

I don't know about you, but I see a huge parallel to the whole writing business there.

(a) Writing is hard work.

Sitting in traffic today, my eldest Monster asked how much I would make off the book I recently sold to Samhain. Ever since I started writing and especially since I sold, he's been interested in writing his own book. It's real to him. Basically, I've addressed this by telling him that lots of people say they want to write a book, but few people actually follow through. It's not easy and some days it's so frustrating one wants to scream, but it's satisfying. Hard work, and the payoff, often is.

(b) one learns a lot

I can't even begin to tell you everything I've learned since I began writing as my second profession. Everything from POV control to methods of plotting. The great payoff is how learning through writing has affected my first profession -- I can look at a piece of literature I'm planning to teach and I'm so much more cognizant of the author's craft in the piece.

(c) nothing goes as planned

I was reading an article today (I've forgotten which article and what topic it was on, and it was completely unrelated to writing) and one phrase stuck with me: hope becomes expectation. Why did that strike such a chord? I think that sometimes we get sucked into the idea that "if I work hard enough, I'm guaranteed publication" and "if I can just find an agent, I'll sell." Those thoughts become expectations and when our expectations don't come to fruition in the time space we've set for them, we end up delving into a cycle of frustration, which oftentimes only damages the writing. The most important lesson I've learned to combat this? Take care of the writing. Do what you can to take care of the publication end. However, realize that although one may make all the right decisions and all the plans in the world, the publishing business is unpredictable. Maybe ultimately rejections and delays will work in your favor.

And remember, no one ever said it would be easy. In the long run? It will definitely be worth it.


Blogger Joan Swan said...


I sure as hell hope you're right. I'm in that valley, looking at the hill on the other side and feeling far too weary to tackle it.

And that hope turns to expectation comment just really hits the target for me. Somewhere along the line I stopped hoping to sell and started expecting to sell.

And going from expecting back to hoping is beyond tough.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

I think it was expecting things to go a certain way that damaged my writing this last year. You hear so many of other people's stories that you begin formulating how it's going to be. Part of me thought -- heck, 99% of me thought -- that when I signed with an agent, a sale was soon to follow. I knew the reality, but that didn't stop hope turning to expectation. I get the power of positive thinking, but I also get the importance of recognizing reality -- and expectations and reality often don't mesh when we want them to.

Did I sell? Sure. Not through an agent and not the way I thought I would.

Did I sub another book to the same house? Sure.

And I'm hoping it gets an offer.

But I'm not expecting it.

2:59 PM  

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