The Autumn of My (Writing) Life?

There was a time I could write anytime, anywhere. I could write while carrying on a conversation. I always delivered manuscripts well ahead of deadlines–which actually worked to my advantage once in a disagreement with my publisher.

Things have changed. These days, I find myself unable to finish anything I start. I’ve been working on An Army of Angels for over four years now and getting nowhere fast. Not only is the story not always with me, as my previous novels were, I have trouble concentrating on it when I’m actually writing–or trying to write. I have five projects currently in the works and only one appears to have any hope of reaching completion. (Okay, Chasing the Wind took ten years–but they were ten years of active writing….)

It’s frustrating…and discouraging. There’s a part of me that wonders if it might be time to hang it up, to retire. Collin is now at the beginning of his solo writing career. Maybe I should be content with what I’ve accomplished in the past twenty-four years and move into the role of mentor to my son. He’s still young and has (I hope) a long life and career ahead of him.

Or maybe I should switch to nonfiction. I love blogging, and it seems to come easily–most of the time, anyway. I recently read a post on Author Media that suggested turning a selection of blog posts into a book. Do I have enough nuggets here for a book? Don’t know. I’d have to think about that.

What does one do when he or she discovers they just don’t have what it takes anymore? If only I could get paid to blog….

On second thought, I’m not arguing with HIM….


25 responses

  1. I don't think it means you no longer have what it takes, but what's changed in the time since that you could write anytime, anywhere? Perhaps you need to get back to that place where writing came more easily.

    PS. You CAN get paid to blog! (I do… not on my personal blog.) You should seriously look into that if it genuinely interests you.

  2. I think it comes down to a combination of things, but in those times when writing is going along well, don't let yourself get distracted by other things. And take frequent breaks. They're good for you.

  3. I don't think you should give up writing completely, just change the pentameters.
    I am discouraged all the time with my art. So I have switched it around more things with photo less eye/hand work.
    I try to get things done I have to, right now it is proving I did pay my 2nd quarter taxes and doing bills. Then it is hopefully a few hours spent here and there on what I want to do.
    The demands of dogs who have health problems plus my health issues. I like working at night but dogs meds have certain times when they need to be given so it it becomes a balancing act.
    Maybe you write when you can and not worry about time limits or change from novels to short stories.
    Much like what William said it comes down to a combination of things that will work for you.

    cheers, parsnip

  4. While I don't write on an intense basis, my day job requires a fair amount of manuscript output (I must publish journal articles in order to stay in the game) and am terrible when I face writer's block. I was at the end of my rope last year, but – strangely – starting a for-fun photoblog sort of re-inspired me (even if it had nothing to do the kind of writing I really do). The suggestions here about switching things up, taking breaks, trying different things really resonate with me. Good luck! You have what it takes or you wouldn't be drawing readers:)

  5. Norma, I'd hate to see you give up:(. I think the idea of creating a book of blog posts is great! Also, a guide to indie publishing would be helpful to all the aspiring authors out there–you inspired me to go indie!

    I would hope that you not stop writing fiction, but perhaps take a break from it. Go back to it after writing some non-fiction.

    Your fiction plots are exciting, and you write blog posts that range from serious/informative to LOL funny! You've got what it takes!

  6. Thanks, Carla. There are several factors, I think. I'm epileptic and I have advanced-stage glaucoma.

    I have absence seizures, sometimes 100 a day, that cause mental disruptions (Collin says my brain reboots). That means I can't multitask anymore. One thing at a time….

    Not being able to see the monitor is an issue, but I have apps for both Blogger and WordPress on my smartphone, so that helps with blogging.

  7. Easier said than done! There was a time, when I didn't have a computer (no internet!) that I wrote in longhand and just shut everything out while I wrote. Those days are gone forever.

  8. You're an inspiration, Gayle!

    When I got my first computer, years ago, there was no internet. When I got my second, Collin and I had been taking computer classes at the library, so we did our internet time there and had no internet service at home. So I had two hours of internet time at the library and could only use the computer at home for work. That was a good thing. I can see that now!

  9. Thanks, Maria–I'm not the one to write a book on surviving as an indie author, though. I'm still amazed at how, even after twenty-plus years in traditional publishing, I know so little about this!

    I'm seriously considering a memoir. Or a book of stories about my various companion animals….

  10. I like the idea of a memoir. You have so much to share and so many highs and quite a few lows that the reading would be very interesting. Don't forget you are a big inspiration to many many young writers.

  11. Maybe you're getting yourself over anxious Norma, if you 'side track' a bit, change it might just be that you need to hang loose for a while! You have so much talent, it would be a shame to give it up. b.t.w if you find out how to make money from blogging let me know!

  12. I love that your son is embarking on his writerly journey! How exciting for both of you! And of course he's got a great start with his most talented mum!

    I say so long as your creative outlet is fulfilled and happy – it doesn't matter what form it takes – the worse is if your creative soul is stifled!

    Take care

  13. You know there are many online sites that look for paid contributors. With a little research I bet you could find something. I've heard of peeps pubbing blog post collections. It's a great idea if it sells.
    Sounds like you just need a break from writing. Give yourself a few months off. I always find I'm itching to get back in there after a few weeks.

  14. Norma, it would be sad–and a loss–if you packed it in. It sounds like you need to step back and let a free flow of consciousness guide you to what's percolating in your writer's soul. I think we all get writer's block and wonder if this is worth it at times. But, please, please, shrug it off in the way that works for you and Write On. Good Luck! (And I think it's very generous of you to share your feelings and thank you greatly! The older we get, the more we have to balance life's experiences with life's passions, not always easy to do.)

  15. Health problems take their toll. Like others, I say don't give up; just try another method of communicating. If short pieces work, then write them. If a memoir works, start one. You're way too good a writer to give it up entirely. And I don't think you can!

  16. PK–I'm pretty embarrassed to admit to being a whiner after reading that Ulysses S. Grant wrote 10,000 words a day on his memoir–a book that needed almost NO editing–while dying of throat cancer. He was in intense pain and died shortly after it was finished.

    Yup. I'm a wuss!

  17. Kittie and Cheryl–thanks, both of you! I think I've found the solution to my problem. So far, so good! I read some of my new material aloud at my writers group meeting Saturday, and it got a very positive response.

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