Friday, June 8, 2007

All for the Sake of the Al'Mighty Pen by Dorothy Thompson

Interesting story in the NY Observer yesterday.

The title was what caught my eye: "My Book Deal Ruined My Life."

Say it isn't so.

Here's part of it:

Brendan Sullivan, 25, moved to New York after studying creative writing at Kenyon College in Ohio. He hasn’t landed a book deal for his novel, but is determined to find a publisher. “Writing has ruined my life and cost me many, many girlfriends,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I have thrown away several careers and one college degree to spend my time working in bars, D.J.’ing in bars and drinking my rejection letters away. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, and I’ve made many of them since I started …. I also abandoned my agent with words harsher than those I’ve saved for lost loves.”

That's only one case. The article quotes other cases where one's life was disrupted by the al'mighty pen.

Six years ago, I had a life. I was thirty pounds lighter, I actually knew where all members of my family were going after they told me and rather enjoyed frivolous waste-of-time shopping trips where I had nothing to do all day but ogle clothes I only wish I had the money to buy.

I showed up for work on time and actually volunteered for overtime to increase the paycheck so I could have more money for said shopping trips.

The car got washed and the garden got watered, not to mention my body took on a golden glow from all those trips out in the summer sun.

Relatives were visited, neighbors were checked in on and playing in the park with my dogs was an every day thing.

Clothes were thrown out on the line to save on the electric bill instead of tossed in the energy-guzzling dryer and food actually was prepared up on top of the stove (or the grill) instead of the microwave.

All for the sake of the al'mighty pen, I have given up all those things.

Every morning, there is a mad dash for the computer to either read email from my writing group, write in my blog or start working on a scene in a novel that was hauntingly driving me to write it down, lest I forget it.

All for the al'mighty pen do I do this because...

I'm not quite sure.

I'm thinking it might be a disease that inflicts ordinary people that drives them to give up on what they used to know as everyday life and turn it into a frenzied marathon of writing, editing, revising, writing some more, sending said writing to agents and publishers, reading the rejections, screaming, writing again, sending again and repeating the whole process over and over until you finally give up and start on another novel and repeat the same process over and over.

It's a disease of the al'mighty pen.

Anyway, what prompted me to get out of bed, empty my bladder, grab a sandwich and some pepsi and turn on the computer at 4 a.m. in the morning when I could still be sleeping is a condition that strikes every known man or woman on the face of this earth if they decide to become a writer. And, God forbid them to want to become a published author because if that happens, they're in for a treat and their life will never be the same unless they take that al'mighty pen, lay it down and refuse to pick it up again.

But, we don't do that.

We can't.

We just can't.

So, I'm sitting here at the computer at 4 in the morning - errr, make that 5 by now - and I come across an article in the NY Observer titled "My Book Deal Ruined My Life" and I'm matter how much my life has changed and no matter how much I long for the times when I could kick back and enjoy life without having to turn this blasted computer on, I still think because of the al'mighty pen, my life has become a little richer, and a little more meaningful.

I don't know how or why because that book deal is just not happening; but somehow, somewhere, I just feel it and if I wait just a little while longer, and pray a little harder, and keep on writing and revising and submitting, I'll finally get to where I'm going.

All for the sake of the al'mighty pen that just won't let me let it go.

Dorothy Thompson
Co-Author, The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost
Editor/Co-Author, Romancing the Soul

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Linda L Rucker said...

I love to write. I enjoy putting a bunch of words together that actually entertain a few people, but honestly, writing doesn't control my life. Apparently, I am not the dedicated professional that is supposed to be a part of the job. I don't have the fanaticism or the single mindedness that drives others to get out of bed in the middle of the night flip on the pc and feverishly write down the scene, dialogs, etc. that came to me in my sleep.
I can actually wait until morning.So, does that then mean that I am not a writer? Does that mean that I don't have the determination, drive , ambition, etc to actually succeed i the business? I don't think so.
I can't force my writing. If I'm not in the 'mood' or the muse isn't, then I can't write and no amount of staring at a blank pc screen is going to change that.
I've often wondered what will happen when I finally get that contract and then have to work on a deadline. Probably be the death of my career. I'm not a deadline kind a gal. I don't live by deadlines now, so its not looking all that good for the future.
I've often wondered how some writers can actually write under a deadline. Isn't that like forcing creative-ism? How do you force creativity?
Anyway, if writing has ruined this guys life, then maybe he ought to check into the other employment opportunities he by-passed in order to write.

Anonymous said...

Oh so true!!! Sometimes I wish this sickness would leave me alone but along with the lowest lows are the highest highs.

No wonder they say "write only if you must - otherwise, do something else."

For some of us, we must. Because I've also heard "do what you're called to do and let go of the outcome."

Great post!!

Sandy Lender said...

I never want to get well.

Send the physician away. Rip up the prescription he's written. I don't need no steenkeeng pills. I'm content getting my three hours of sleep a night and writing, blogging, marketing, editing, writing some more and wondering how it got so dark outside so fast each day...wondering how Sunday night came so fast on the weekend...

I never want to get well.

Sandy L.
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Karen Magill said...

I enjoy writing but I am like Linda. I am not obsessed. I have other things in my life that require attending to. I don't think that makes me less of a writer though. If I have a deadline, I meet it without problems. Maybe that is my problem, I need the structure and stress to become 'obsessed'.

Vicki M. Taylor said...

I used to be so obsessed about my writing that I would write and write until I couldn't write anymore then get up and do it all over again. My writing obsession drove me. I think my writing and I have come to a deeper understanding. I still have the passion to write. But, I don't get up at 3 am. If I do, it's to write something down real quick then hop back in bed.

I can't explain why that has happened. All I know is that I'm so grateful for the obsessed time I went through. It showed me what I'm capable of.

I agree about deadlines. Now, I write until I'm done with the book. However, I've challenged myself to finish the current book I'm writing this year. So, I am under a self-imposed deadline. I wouldn't mind a deadline from a publisher, but I don't think I could produce very well, if were under unrealistic deadlines all to meet a publisher's schedule.

I know writers who can produce 3 or 4 books a year. Wow!! That's so amazing. Those deadlines are given to them from their publishers. I've often wondered, but never asked what their personal life was like or if they had one.

How do you find the right balance?