Writer’s Block

This is what I dread most about writing.  It’s not all the work that goes into writing.  I love writing.  I love when it flows out of me.  I love when I have so much to write for a project.  I love rewriting multiple drafts, too.  It’s not the rejections I receive either.  The awful writer’s block fills a person with so much despair she nearly wants to give it up altogether.

I’m presently stuck in a writing rut where I am unable to make progress on any of my current writing projects.  I began working on completing the first draft of a thriller I started two years ago.  I have about 47,000 words written already, but the process of adding to this manuscript has been painfully difficult.

I have four poetry submissions I’m waiting to hear about and two short story submissions.  I have seven queries to literary agents about my first novel I’m also waiting to hear back about.  I don’t have much going on now.

I try to draw on reading current novels written in a similar genre to get my creative juices flowing.  I recently finished reading a book called Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI by Robert Ressler.  It’s true crime I found quite riveting.  Some parts were hard to get through and digest because of how grotesque they were.  I found it helpful to read something that was as exciting as the novel I’m writing.

Now I’m in the middle of reading In the Woods by Tana French.  So far, I haven’t found the story all too interesting and I can’t connect with or feel anything for the characters.  I will still finish it though.

I’m working on finishing the final draft of three poems I want to submit to a literary magazine.  I have a short story I’ve meant to fix and submit to a lit mag.  I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I should write more for this blog.  I haven’t published many posts since I started it.

My progress overall has been slow–almost nonexistent.  I write in my journal as often as possible to keep myself working on something all the time.

It is already November 5.  NaNoWriMo has begun.  I decided not to participate this year.  I did write for it in November of 2014.  I wrote about 52,000 words by the end of the month.  Then I reached 70,000 words for that novel, but that’s also unfinished.

I suppose I should just force myself to sit down for about four hours a day to write.  Like some famous writers have said, if you wait for inspiration to write, you’ll never write anything.  You just have to do it.  You can always rewrite it later.  Even if you don’t use what you write, it’s good practice to write constantly.  Aim for two or three thousand words to write each day.  That’s up to twelve pages in a novel.  Or at least try to write one thousand words if you’re really struggling.  It’s good writing experience to write every day.  Don’t worry about its quality when it’s only the first draft.

I need to write something–anything.  I find it easier to improve my writing skills if I’m always working on something every single day, which I haven’t been doing lately.  Another idea could come out of what I’m working on.  That’s what happened when I wrote my first novel.

Now, I must get to it.  Write.


Writing Woes

Since I began querying agents about my first novel, I’ve caught some mistakes in the query letter as well as the sample chapters.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I had made them until after I submitted to the first agent.  Careful not to repeat these errors, I took a considerable amount of time to fix my letter and my manuscript, even after having spent so much time on them already.

I put forth great effort in every detail of my writing even before I queried the first literary agent.  I reread, rewrote, edited, over and over again, printed out a piece to work with a hard copy, read it aloud, revised, reread, rewrote, proofread, lathered, rinsed, and repeated…you get the idea.

The degree of frustration and exhaustion I experience with writing sometimes discourages me.  I’ve already received eighty rejections for my work submitted over the past three years.  The few times I’ve had my work published in small literary magazines have been rewarding, but the degree of hard work to any kind of recognition I receive is disproportionate.  Such is the life of writing and the life of any artist for that matter.  I’m still waiting for the day someone pays me for something I wrote.  I don’t have to be the next J.K. Rowling, but I would like to earn a living pursuing my passion.  Most professional writers receive a modest income for their work.

My progress doesn’t always move at a steady pace forward.  I find that even though I read and write every day, I still struggle to improve.  I find some of my previous work cringeworthy to read.

In the past few years, I’ve read a hundred books.  Fifteen of them have been about the craft.  I read literary fiction, commercial fiction, and nonfiction, including creative nonfiction.  Writing (and reading) requires a lot of self-discipline.  Because of some personal struggles I deal with on a daily basis, my concentration and memory necessary to advance in this craft are, to an extent, also compromised.  Never mind others wondering what you’re doing just sitting at the computer.  It’s not easy peasy cheddar cheesy (I made that one up and I’m hoping it catches on) to be a good writer.

I received a couple of personalized rejections after querying agents again.  One said that my work showed potential but it wasn’t a good fit for the types of authors she represented.  Another said that this was a strong project but it wasn’t quite right for the editorial contacts she had.  These rejections were promising.  I must remind myself that this is common for all writers and I just need to keep at it.

My Manuscript

Recently, I finished rewriting my manuscript.  It was the first and only completed novel I’ve written since I began pursuing my dreams of becoming a published novelist.

I’ve begun querying agents again.  There were a few I queried in the past, before this rewrite, that never responded.  I assumed that they had no interest in my book, so I didn’t follow-up on the submissions.

I hope to gain someone’s interest after all this hard work and perseverance.  Here I go again!

Query Rejection Letters of My Novel

I wrote a semiautobiographical novel about a difficult period in my life and my daily struggles.  It’s classified as contemporary fiction/realistic fiction/women’s fiction.  After working on it for four years, I completed the manuscript’s final draft late in 2015, and I began querying literary agents for representation.

I did receive several form rejection letters and a few more personalized ones.  One agent said that there wasn’t much of a market for my story, but others might feel differently.  Another wrote back declining representation after careful consideration over a lengthy amount of time.  She explained that she wasn’t drawn into the material as much as she had hoped.  This query rejection implied that my story had promise if I could improve upon it.

Now I’m back to rewriting this manuscript for the eighth time.  With each new draft I create a copy of the file before making changes.  This way I have the last version saved without the new edits.  It helps if I need to restore something I deleted.

For the eighth and final draft of my novel, I’ve cut out much of the original first two chapters.  I found the writing sluggish.  The beginning could very easily lose a reader’s interest with such a slow-moving pace.  I hope the changes I’ve made to hold a reader’s attention will encourage him or her to continue reading the book and finish it.

I’m still writing for one reader as all the famous writers suggest.  I’m writing for myself.  I’m writing what I would want to read.

I would like to have the final polished work ready by the end of the summer (at the latest).  Then I’ll start querying literary agents again.  Wish me more than luck.

parallel universe


Susanna Kaysen’s memoir Girl, Interrupted was one of the best books adapted into a film.  I loved this book and movie.  Published in 1993, it was later adapted into a film in 1999 starring Winona Ryder (as Susanna Kaysen) and Angelina Jolie.  I marveled at how this was a wonderfully written work of creative nonfiction.  People afflicted with or without a mental illness could relate to so many parts of her story.

Here in this excerpt early in her memoir, Susanna explains how easy it is to slip into a parallel universe of mental illness.  She struggled with borderline personality disorder.  A mental parallel universe, where the laws of physics didn’t apply, trapped her.  After crossing over the boundary between the sane and insane, she felt as if her mental illness contained her inside a prison, thus leading her to a two-year stay at the McLean Hospital.

We all slip into a parallel universe of our own from time to time to escape or to cope.  We create our own little world to escape to within our minds when something greater than we are confronts us.

Other times, it’s as if we’ve slipped into another consciousness and become someone unrecognizable to all those around us including ourselves.  Over time, what we’ve transformed into imprisons us.