Writing is a Solitary Profession

Most of the time, we’re alone in our rooms, banging our heads on the keyboard and drinking something caffeinated. Or, if you’re writing later in the day, non-caffeinated. Perhaps alcoholic. Or maybe not. I’m so not judging your choice of libations. Right now? I’m drinking water and writing this blog, and thinking about the next thing that’ll happen in Heir to the Firstborn. (Owyn is in trouble. Again. When is Owyn not in trouble?)

Heir to the Firstborn
(Heir to the Firstborn, book 5)

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Writing is solitary. Except, of course, for when it isn’t. This morning, I spent an hour interviewing the fantastically funny Amy Christine Parker about scene architecture and story structure, and during the interview, this came up in conversation:

Being a writer is fun. You get to do things like interview other writers. You get to go to conferences and meet the people who’ve read and loved your books (or people who haven’t read your work yet, and have just discovered that you exist.) You get to meet the writers whose work you’ve loved, and learn that they’re really cool people (most of the time).

The actual writing part? That can be hard — in 1949, someone asked sports columnist Red Smith if writing a daily column was difficult. His response? “Why, no. You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”  Sometimes, you just really stare at the screen, or at the page, or at the backs of your eyelids, and you wonder where all the voices in your head went (I do hear my characters — that’s how I know I’ve got them figured out.)

I have two partial manuscripts I’d love to finish, but the characters won’t talk to me anymore. There’s something wrong in the outline, and I haven’t been able to figure out what or how to fix it. (I talk about them every so often — The Sea Prince is one. The Willow Sword is the other.) Now, it took me six years to figure out what was broken with Heart’s Master, and finish that one, so I have high hopes that one of these years, you’ll see a book cover with one of those titles, and my name on it. But not until I figure out what’s broken and how to fix it. I’ll be taking another stab at The Willow Sword once I finish Heir to the Firstborn. Maybe this time, I’ll pull a hat out of a rabbit.

No, I don’t have that backwards. Any magician can pull a rabbit out of a hat. Who pulls a hat out of a rabbit? A really GOOD magician.

Or a writer.

 

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