Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Keeps You Going?

I always have at least three manuscripts in various stages of progress at one time. On the upside, I'm never stuck. I can always write--something. On the downside, I find it easier to put aside a manuscript that's challenging me and just not working when I should, perhaps, hammer it out. I know a lot of writers who work this way. And I know a great number of writers who work on one manuscript at a time. Two ways of getting to the same place.

What I'm wondering about is this: What keeps you going? What sparks an idea, lights a fire under that bit of inspiration?

It's no accident that I think about this today. Today marked the third anniversary of The Women's Fiction Writers Exchange--my online critique group. Three years ago, I was still somewhat naive about the writing process and all that a writer needs to shape a story into a salable manuscript. I founded the Women's Fiction Writers Exchange, clueless about the elements of a good critique. Fortunately, I was blessed with good writers who knew how to critique, how to take that rough idea laid out before them in point of view shifts, passive grammar, and sometimes without the punctuation to provide the necessary stops and starts--and shape it into a polished work fit for human consumption. It also doesn't hurt that these women like to laugh and have a good time.

Aside from the love of writing and the sheer thrill of seeing my words in print, here is one thing that keeps me going: the writers with whom I share this amazing journey. Writing is a solitary, reclusive task. At some point we each have to come out of our cave and join the clan for sustenance, be that by sharing our stories, seeking comfort from the wounds of rejection, or rejoicing in those little and (if we're lucky) big victories.

So, here's to the my fellow writers who share my disappointments, help to shape my words, and supply the music for my happy dances.

What keeps you going?



Infogypsy said...

Hi Linda - a salute to you who started our great writing group. While I haven't been critiquing in a few months, I continue to enjoy watching the others (and myself) get better and better.

I'm one of those 'one thing at a time" writers - I persist until the one I'm working on is done before I can move on to the next. Here are some things that get me going:
1) A dream of sharing something with women where they discover a commitment within themselves to transcend their circumstances;
2) A love of words;
3) Discipline to do what I say (right now it's edit 5 pages a day) no matter what - even at midnight if I have been gone all evening; and
4) The humanity I get in touch with in myself and others through reading and writing
judi romaine (Long Run Home - due 09/18/09 - TWRP)

Linda Rettstatt said...

Thanks, Judi. I share your desire to write in a way that empowers other women. And I very much respect and admire your discipline. Maybe some of it will rub off on me? :)


Carol McPhee said...

What keeps me going is the burning desire to accompany my characters on their journey right to the HEA end. To live, love, experience and triumph over their obstacles feeds my imagination and adds a wonderfully different dimension to my life.
Carol McPhee:

Patricia Robinett said...

what keeps me going is purpose. in general, to improve life on planet earth... specifically, to end an insidious form of socially sanctioned child abuse... and on the flip side, to inspire people to remember who and what they TRULY are.

Angelica Hart and Zi said...

"Writing is a solitary, reclusive task" You are so right about that. It is easier for those of us who write with a partner but even then you sometimes have this isolated feeling for a lot of the creative process begins in the solitary mind. It's gerat to have a place to share. Kudos to you for finding that place. :)

Fiona McGier said...

What keeps me going as a writer is that the characters keep "talking" in my head, telling me their stories, until I write them down. Then they are quiet, and the next group of characters begin to speak. I feel like a "conduit", giving them a voice, so they can "live". And I truly enjoy finding out their stories, and helping them solve their problems. Weird? Maybe. But that's what keeps me going.

Linda Rettstatt said...

I know exactly what you're talking about. I felt so close to the characters in my first book that I didn't want to end the story. Thank heavens new 'friends' called on me to tell me their stories :)


Megan DiMaria said...

Great topic, Linda.

I write because it makes me feel good, not in a prideful way, but because I feel complete and like I'm doing what I was created to do.

Sure, it's hard on occasion. Disappointment and rejections are awful, but...

I don't feel it's a terribly solitary career. I'm a member of writer's groups with email loops and I twitter all day.

If you decide to twitter, let me know and I'll follow you. You can find me on twitter at

Robert Noonan's Novels said...

What kept me going was my love for the subject ... children. Like many, I thought about writing but didn't get there. I started a membership with the Library of Congress and with it I received "Civilization," their monthly magazine.

The first issue I received had an article about abused child laborers of the 19 century-The Industrial Revolution. It was a subject I read about many times before and the same pictures were there ... except for one. It was of a nine-year-old girl in a tattered, oil stained dress dwarfed by machinery. The moment I looked at her sad face I knew she was my story.

While writing "Wildflowers" I had appearances of Orphan Trains, another soft spot for me. Half way into the story I realized I could connect it to another novel. Then I thought "why two, why not a trilogy?" So it was done.

I've been getting phone calls and emails asking me to continue the series. I admit, I did leave the third novel, "Secrets" open-ended, crying for more. I have started the fourth novel "Paper Flowers," but so much time is needed for promotion of the trilogy, my time is limited.

To sum it up, my love for the subject is what keeps me going.

drlisa said...

What keeps me going is knowing I am writing to reach someone out there feeling helpless and hopeless in their eating disorder. I'll admit it can be lonely writing on a Saturday afternoon in South Florida when you can hear others splashing about in their pools, but knowing I am writing on a subject I have passion for and maybe saving one person from this disease it is worth my loneliness.