Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing Allergies and Irritants

As a writer, there a few things more irritating than a pen that runs out of ink at the climax of a scene that’s been building for five pages. An irritant like that can feel at time like a bad case of allergies. I've come up with a few more irritants that make me want to alternately pull my hair our or throw my computer out the window or both at the same time. And here they are.

1. This one is an irritant to many who aren’t writers too I’m quite sure. The phone. It never rings until I’m comfortable in my chair, laptop revved up and fingers are on the keyboard. And it's across the room.

2. The weather. Why is it so damn sunny and nice out on my days I set aside for writing? I want it dark and stormy, a real mood intensifier. Not some unseasonably warm , happy come play outside temptation of a day.

3. Slow Internet is the bane of my existence. I have to wait to get to a wireless café or steal from my neighbour if I want to upload pictures on the blog (of which you will see are absent from this post) or if I even want to send out a large attachment.

4. The cat, much as I love her, seems to feel that if I’m writing, she must not be getting the attention she deserves. This also applies to the dogs, my husband and numerous other people who shall remain nameless.

5. Unknown technical problems. Like the computer shutting itself off with unsaved work on the screen. Or randomly choosing not to hook up to the Internet. Or choosing not to be able to find files that I have JUST saved.

6. Not hearing back from agents, editors or publishers in the time frame that THEY give. My agent isn’t a problem (She’s wonderful!), but I’m finding that publishing houses and editors don’t follow much in the way of their own time lines. Poopy heads.

7. Someone who has never written a book telling you how you should write yours. Or how they could write a book no problem, they just never got around to it. I try not to strangle these people. I prefer to kill them off in a scene somewhere. Preferably a nice, gruesome scene. Maybe turn them into a rotting zombie.

8. People asking, “Aren’t you done yet?” or “You’re a writer?” both are said with a large dose of snobbery and condescension. And yes, I have had people ask me these things.

9. A minor character in your book suddenly deciding to take on a life of their own and you realize that you now have to write them their own story. Or series. This one isn’t all bad, just one of those moments that you let out a sigh and wish your characters would sometimes, once in a while, behave themselves.

10. Last but not least. You finish your book, hand it out to your beta readers or editor, they give you their feedback and you realize that you have to cut out a massive chunk of your book and re-write it. Yes it will make the book better, but damn, I always wish I could have figured it out sooner and saved myself some grief.

Like a bad case of hives, these irritants can really get under your skin if you let them and worse, they can completely derail you from your writing progress. Take a deep breath, a walk in that beautiful sunshine that’s tempting you and let the irritation go.

I would love to hear what other irritants are out there, so comment away, tell us how bad a case of hives you’ve got and how you deal with them.


JM Kelley said...

Okay. My official irritant has to do with writers and Twitter. Those who stop every five minutes to update their word count. I don't mean Nano posts or people who occasionally share their accomplishments for the day. I mean the ones who tweet CONSTANTLY about their word counts.

Just typed 20385 words! (5 minutes ago)
Just typed 2844 more words! (4 minutes ago)
Just typed 1837 more words! (3 minutes ago)
I typed 1839740322 words today! (2 minutes ago)

One, if you're updating THAT often, I question the quality. And I start to question that you're writing at all if you have that much time to tweet about it.

*deep breath* Okay, I feel better now :D

Anassa said...

A few of the regulars at my work have learned that I'm a writer. Every time they come in they ask about my WIP, in a nice, interested, "we like you so we can't wait to read your writing" kind of way. But it's getting annoying because every time they ask, I explain again about beta readers, multiple drafts, the query process, the submissions to editors, the time from selling the book to seeing it on the shelves… and they ask "when are we going to see it?" the next time anyway. *sigh*

And I hear you on Point 10. That happened to me recently too, with the added bonus of the MS now being way below acceptable word counts.

Brooke Johnson said...

yes, it has to be family asking about my wip, and every time (every time!) i have to explain to them how the industry works. yes, nanna, the book is finished... no dad, so-and-so agent rejected my book... yes entire family, it may be five years before my book is even printed and yes, you may have forgotten by then that i have even written said book... but that's how it works. i understand they're trying to be supportive, but it can be annoying, especially when they use the aforementioned condescending tone.

Shannon said...

JM Kelley- I would also add to that the people who have written 50k in like two weeks and have started another project. I know it should be inspiring, but mostly its a little depressing.

Anassa & Brooke- Yes, people asking all the time, "When can I read it, when will it be published?" gets old quick. Well meaning, but still can make you (and me) feel like we aren't doing enough when the industry is mostly hurry up and wait.

Thanks to all for you comments!

Jamie Grey said...

LOL-I have the cat/dog/husband/others interupting problem myself. It never ceases to amaze me that Hubs will be off by himself in another room of the house and immediately want to tell me a huge long story as soon as I snap the laptop open!

I don't have too much trouble with the interested coworkers :) I've tried really hard to not let on I'm a writer! Just easier that way.

The Desert Rocks said...

Great post and I'm so glad to know I'm not alone.