Skip to main content

The Writer's Journey: How Much Can Someone Possibly Stand?

Above your desk is a bulletin board, crammed with outlines, assorted index cards with character descriptions, fliers from places you went for research, cards from agents and editors you met at assorted writers conferences, a postcard from a favorite book (note to self: next query don't forget to mention your story is just like this one!), yellowed movie stubs from Crazy Stupid Love and Pride and Prejudice, a calendar indicating all the dates from sent queries, and a plethora of erratically stuck Post-it notes of varying colors and sizes holding minutiae ranging from brilliant snippets of dialogue to the color of the suit your villain will wear when he jumps the hero behind the warehouse.

Above your desk is a bulletin board, crammed with outlines, assorted index cards with character descriptions, fliers from places you went for research, cards from agents and editors you met at assorted writers conferences, a postcard from a favorite book (note to self: next query don't forget to mention your story is just like this one!), yellowed movie stubs from Crazy Stupid Love and Pride and Prejudice, a calendar indicating all the dates from sent queries, and a plethora of erratically stuck Post-it notes of varying colors and sizes holding minutiae ranging from brilliant snippets of dialogue to the color of the suit your villain will wear when he jumps the hero behind the warehouse.

Below it is a bookcase full of craft books, 2009 Rand McNally Road Atlas, three Marble compositions crammed with notes from various lectures and last year's Writer's Market. Next to that is a desk supporting a dictionary, thesaurus, a votive candle/pen holder, a stapler, hand lotion, various manila folders holding bits and pieces of paper, a lamp, a coaster and coffee cup, a mouse and mouse pad, a spoon, your phone--charging--and lastly, the font from which all springs, your laptop, repository of two works-in-progress, five novels, three novellas, ten short stories and six or seven random pieces all patiently cooling, simmering, boiling within its hard drive, but even more so, the receptacle of your benighted heart.

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 1.21.36 PM
Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 1.21.18 PM

Column by Gwen Jones, an Assistant Professor of English at Mercer County
College, in West Windsor, NJ. Her work has appeared in The Kelsey Review,
and The Connecticut River Review, and she is the author of WANTED: WIFE,
book one in the HarperCollins/Avon French Kiss series, and book two,
KISS ME, CAPTAIN (August 2014), which is about Captain
Dani Lloyd and her adventures with French shipping billionaire
Marcel Mercier. Book three is due by the end of 2014.

A writer of women’s fiction and romance, she lives with her
husband. C
onnect with her on Facebook or Twitter

So there's this, there's all of this, and yet as hard as you work, shuffling schedules to make room for those two blissful hours alone, polishing that manuscript until it screeches surrender, querying in bunches and crossing your fingers, there it comes again, that blasted, callous bit of communication that so effortlessly denies you entrance. So you steal more hours, polish some more and once again type that header: QUERY: Historical Thriller 80k--and it's almost as if you're stuck in a copier churning out denied, denied, DENIED.

So what's the secret? Who do I see? Where do I go? What do I do? Who must I screw? Oh don't tell me--that's got to be it! Why I know this person and she can barely write her own name and her fifth book is coming out next month! Don't give me that "subjective" crap—that wears thin after the first hundred times! You have to know someone. You need to to get in the door. Or you have to write Steampunk. Zombies. New Adult.

(How can writers compose an exciting Chapter 1?)

Dystopian. Cozies. Historicals. Contemporaries. Thrillers. Forget Chick Lit! Nobody reads Regencies anymore. World War One's Hot! She's the new Nora! Stephen! Patterson! Asimov! We don't care! Just as long as it's original! The hell with the Big Five! Self-Publish! Trade paper. Mass market. Hard cover. Who needs paper? It's a virtual world. Get a website. Blog. Tweet. Get a Kindle. Nook. Tablet. Download an audio file. Put the damn thing on Facebook and let the whole world see it. Churn out some fan fiction, tweak with some kink and watch your Bank Account Explode.

*facepalm* *headdesk* Sigh...

How much longer can this go on? How much can you possibly stand? When will you finally reach that tipping point when you can NOT take it any longer and you throw out your hands and give up? How much is finally enough?

(How long should a synopsis be? Is shorter or longer better?)

Got news for you sweeties. If you're reading this and nodding your head then you're in way, way, way too deep to get out now. You've got it bad and you'll receive no sympathy from me. Congratulations. You are officially at the point of no return. Sounds like you’ve become what so far, you think you’ve been denied from becoming.

Sounds like you’re a writer.

Such is the writer’s reality. There isn’t one of us out there who hasn’t gone through similar trials and humiliations. We’ve all had to walk through fire. The thing is you earn the right to call yourself a writer if you keep going back for more. And why is that? Because writers write. We can’t help ourselves. It’s what we do because it’s what we are.

So get back to work. There are dozens of interns out there working late with fingers twitching on the "reject" button. Let's do our damnedest to disappoint them.

Image placeholder title

Need help crafting an awesome plot for your
story? Check out the new acclaimed resource
by Ronald Tobias, 20 Master Plots.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Image placeholder title

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

Sarah Zachrich Jeng: On Trying Out Different Endings

Sarah Zachrich Jeng: On Trying Out Different Endings

Debut novelist Sarah Zachrich Jeng discusses the process of writing her thriller novel, The Other Me.

From Script

Five Things Readers Wish Every Writer Knew (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, learn five simple but invaluable lessons to make readers’ lives a bit easier and make your script a smoother read.

3 Tips for Writing a Second Chance Romance

3 Tips for Writing a Second Chance Romance

What makes second chance romance so enticing to read and challenging to write? Author Kerry Winfrey offers 3 tips for writing a second chance romance.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 6 WDU Courses, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce 6 WDU courses, a chance to be published, and more!

6 Things My Career as a Travel Writer Taught Me About Writing a Memoir

6 Things My Career as a Travel Writer Taught Me About Writing a Memoir

After 30 years as a travel writer, Mark Chesnut spent his days exploring the world and writing about what he saw. Here, he shares 6 things his career as a travel writer taught him about writing his first memoir.

Inspiration vs. Perspiration: Where Do Middle-Grade Fiction Ideas Come From?

Inspiration vs. Perspiration: Where Do Middle-Grade Fiction Ideas Come From?

Where does inspiration come from? Author Melissa Dassori shares what helped inspire her debut middle-grade novel, and offers four ways to dig for ideas for your own stories.

Matt & Harrison Query: On a Story’s Evolution

Matt & Harrison Query: On a Story’s Evolution

Matt & Harrison Query discuss the short story origins that led to their new horror novel, Old Country.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Mercy Moment

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Mercy Moment

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your character show mercy.

Creating Memorable Friends for Main Characters

Creating Memorable Friends for Main Characters

Filling your book with realistic friendships can offer your main characters fresh perspectives on the story's core plot. Here, author Danielle Jackson shares tips for creating memorable friends for main characters.