Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking Backwards & Forwards (as one does at this time of year...)


Yes, I'm alive. Despite any rumors to the contrary. As you can probably tell from the distinct lack of any Blog posts, Tweets or - more importantly - new book release dates in a long while, 2009 hasn't been the easiest of years for me. I guess it's the same dilemma all writers face at some time or another during their career. Real life has this horrible tendency to get in the way of creating fiction. At least it has for me this year. Can't say I'm sorry to see the back of 2009, frankly.

As I suppose we all do at this time of year, I'm looking both backwards and forwards. Backwards at where it all went wrong, and forwards with the hope that things can only get better. We all know the adage 'Writers' write', and I believe that, honest I do (which in many ways has made things tougher). I've never been a sit down and hit 'x' amount of words a day kinda gal for 'y' hours, but when I wrote, I could do it for hours on end when the words were flowing (with a distinct lack of a need for sleep). It all balanced out in the end, I figured. And it wasn't like I wasn't producing the finished article. Then I hit that wall all writers dread hitting, writing anything felt like wading through week old porridge wearing weighted boots. The downward spiral had begun. Naturally, it was then that real life started to spiral right along with it. So why am I telling you such a cheery tale at this festive time of year? Well... I'm kinda hoping it might help anyone who has experienced the same thing, enlighten those who may think everything is a bed of roses once you get 'The Call' and have more than a dozen books under your belt. And - most of all - if anyone out there is where I've been for the last year, hopefully you'll know you're not alone. Yes, my friends, writers are human too...

Here's how I see it: We're writing romance - and while that may mean plenty of ups and downs along the road to Happily Ever After, there's a pervading sense of optimism to the stories we tell. Thing is, it's tough to maintain that optimism - even in fiction - if the world around you is slowly unravelling. We've all been there. Whether it's sick relatives or money worries or relationship problems or animals that require care or crying children or the basic demands of day-to-day life in the modern world, there's always something sent to try us; testing our resiliance and resolve. If every day is spent what I term 'fire-fighting', then it can be difficult to close the door and find the energy to summon any memory of that thing called optimism on the blank screen in front of you. Add to that problem the fact the publishing wheel continues to turn in your absence and getting back into the game can look like a very large mountain to climb.

Writers write. But what do we do when we can't?

I'm a great believer in taking care of yourself first. An easy thing for a single girl with no children to say, you may think. But even those of us without an immediate family still have family and friends who rely on us. As with all families, there will be times when you have to give more than you can 'take' from them. It's not always a highway with an even flow of traffic in both lanes. I have to look after me first, so I can give when it's needed and as much as is needed. But just as there are times in a writers life when we have to refill the creative 'well', there are times when the emotional well can run dry and something has to give. In 2009, while already suffering an attack of writers angst, I was needed away from the keyboard. Trouble is, the longer you stay away and the more is drawn from your emotional well, the more difficult I've found it is to return to the keyboard and bleed on the page for my fictional characters.

I know there are writers out there who may read this and think it all sounds like a huge excuse - justification for procrastination and the kind of laziness that hasn't produced words on the page on a regular basis the way professional writers must in order to hold their head above water. But just as there are writers who can bury themselves in their work when things in real life collapse around them, there are some who need to take a step back, fight the fires, refill the wells, and come back to face that mountain with its well trodden paths of doubt, self-reproach, angst and fear of failure. We're all individuals after all. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. I think we all know that by now.

Me? I need to set myself a goal.

So, as 2009 comes to a close and 2010 is laid out in front of us like a blank page waiting to be filled, I'm getting ready to put my boots on and start the climb back up the mountain. Running on the theory that the only way is up and with my fingers firmly crossed that I can remember how to write a book from beginning to end, I'm officially marking Monday 4th January in the internet diary as my first day back to work. With the office that took me nigh on a year to finish (yes, I promise to take pictures and post them), a brand new computer, Twitter ready for updates and the determination to report in even if I get diddly squat done in a day, I'm gonna see if I can still tell a story and drag myself the heck out of this slump.

I'm washing my hands of 2009, leaving the bad karma behind and will welcome anyone who wants to join me in doing the same on the dawn of a fresh and (hopefully) HAPPY NEW WRITING YEAR.

39 comments:

Aideen said...

Hey there stranger,

Can I just say that I'm thrilled to bits to see action on this blog? It's great to hear from you though I'm sorry that 2009 hasn't been kind. I think John Lennon said it best when he said that 'life is what happens when you're busy making plans'. Real life especially so. Onwards and upwards, that's all I can say, you're a strong lady and I just know that 2010 is going to be fabulous for you.

Big hugs from Cork,
Aideen.

Natalie Anderson said...

So great to see you back here Trish - I've missed your posts and like Aideen am sorry 2009 turned out the way it did for you. Here's to 2010 - and go you on the goals - have just done a list of mine for the year too - hopefully achieveable, always adjustable but I love to have them so I keep going. So anyway Happy New Writing Year to you too - here's to lots of fun and sizzle and love for the writing of it...
~Natalie

ninaharrington said...

Welcome back. We've missed you.
Hugs on the life bites.
All the best for your goals - personal and professional - for 2010.
Take care, Nina.

Sally Clements said...

Welcome back Trish. I've been there too and am glad to see you back. There's a lot of us here rooting for you in 2010. I hate this time of year, although I don't often let people know it, too many memories that sadden me. Just focus on now. The past is another country.
Lots of love and best wishes to you.

Sally Clements said...

Great to hear from you Trish. Check out the 'beaming positive thoughts into the ether' helmet on my blog. I'm knitting you one to guarantee a better year in 2010!

Janet said...

Big hugs, Trish. It's great that you're posting here again and feel ready to start a new story.

Life has suddenly out-of-the blue-with no warning collapsed around me too, and I'm having a huge struggle to stay optimistic.

I need to start a new story to give me something to focus on, so plan to join you in starting one on Jan 4th.

Maybe we (and anyone else who plans to start a new story then) could post our daily or weekly word count and urge each other on.

I've no story ideas yet but hope to come up with something in the next few days even if it's only a spark of an idea and a very vague outline. (There's all that lovely Write A book With Trish stuff in the blog archives for anyone like me who needs a bit of a push to get started.)

Ally Blake said...

Trish!!! Sooo nice to hear from you, hon.

Here's to a beautiful fresh start.

Ally

Kelly Hunter said...

Here's to many words and wonderful new stories. Slainte

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

Welcome back!

I haven't really written much either...and my office is put together...so if you 'd like to hike the mountain together, you just let me know :)

Miss you.

Claire Baxter said...

Wishing you steady progress with your writing goals, and a better year all round in 2010.

Claire

joanne pibworth said...

Lots of luck for a sparkling 2010 Trish, hope it turns out to be a much better one for you.
I've been meaning to pop on here and say thank you to you for your 'not at nationals' posts. Hand on heart, they were a HUGE source of inspiration and guidance for me as someone completely new to all of this, I don't think i could have written my comp entry without them. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Jo x

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Aideen and BIG hugs back! Have missed you guys!!!

That John Lennon quote is SO apt for last year. Can't tell you how pleased I am to be typing that in the past tense ;) Here's hoping this brand sparkly new year has a lot of NICE surprises in store for us all.
We Irish gals must have that get-together we talked about too!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Natalie! Soooo good to 'hear' all these familiar voices!

Yes, I think a lot of our goals have to be flexible, don't they? Especially for writers who work from home and can't escape those things real life demands time for. I'm currently trying to 'clear the decks' in my little cabin, so - theoretically - just the simple daily things shouldn't add to the time suckage. Twenty-fours hours in a day doesn't quite feel like enough hours on certain days, does it? Can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to re-joining the writing sorority on Monday! Am at the stage when I really WANT to write, and that has to be a good sign, right???

Trish Wylie said...

Thanks Nina! It's good to BE back!!! Here's hoping there are words to back up my goals come Monday!!! All the very best to you too my friend. There's something incredibly optimistic about the first day of a brand new year, isn't there? Mind you... that might have something to do with my first good night's sleep on my brand new bed... ;)

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Sally!!!! I can do with all the good vibes behind me I can get! It's SO GOOD to know you guys are there!!!

Have to admit I'm not a big fan of the festive season either. I love the decorations and the buying of presents and all that, but the day itself is always bittersweet and filled with memories of people in my life who loved Christmas but aren't here anymore to celebrate it. I guess it's the same for all of us as we get older. But we've survived another one, right? Onwards and HOPEFULLY upwards!

Trish Wylie said...

Ooohhh Sally, can I really have a hat like the one on your blog??? Swear to God, I'd wear it!!! We could ALL wear one at our meet up in Dublin ;)

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Janet! And big hugs right back for the collapse!!! I KNOW how it feels!!! Some days you just gotta dig in and survive for 24hrs. Enjoy the brief breaks from it would be my advice. Some days they're necessary for survival!!!

I would LOVE if a few people want to join me on Monday so we can keep each other going!!! We could make a little Blog list and check in on each other every day. I LOVE that idea!!!

Trish Wylie said...

*Hugs Ally tight* Hi honey!!! And yes - here's to a beautiful new year! MISS YOU GUYS!!! Hugs and smoochy kisses to the boos too :)

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Kelly and THANK YOU! Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit, my friend!

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Jenna honey!!!

Oooohhh, united in shiny new offices! Is yours as much of a mess as mine is ALREADY?! Mind you, if I wasn't decorating my bathroom there might not be bag upon bag of toiletries in here right now. WHY do I have all these beauty products and WHY don't any of them WORK???? Anti-aging my ass!

I'm ALL for a little word-count sharing my sweet :) Just don't demoralize me with thousands upon thousands of words a day, k? I don't think my fragile muse could take it...

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Claire and THANK YOU! Can't tell you how much all these messages have meant to me. I've felt more than a little invisible of late, so it's really heartening not to have been forgotten ;) Fingers crossed for 2010! Here's hoping some of the optimism in our little stories rubs off on us all!

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Joanne and THANK YOU! I'm so glad the Not At Nationals posts were helpful. I promise to go back and finish the last one or two of them I had to do. It's on my list! Must remember to add links for them to the website as well. Baby steps...

Here's hoping I can still practice what I preach, right?

Janet said...

"I would LOVE if a few people want to join me on Monday so we can keep each other going!!! We could make a little Blog list and check in on each other every day."

Not everyone here (me included) has a blog. Maybe we could have a thread on your message forum where anyone who wants to join in could commit to posting their daily progress/wordcounts?

mindmap1 said...

TRISH! YOU'RE BACK!!!!

You don't know me, but I know you (and, er, I'm not a stalker!!)
You've just cleared me to talk on your forum, I received the message today!

Where do I begin?......OK, here goes:

I found your 'welcome to insanity'
in August and, as an aspiring author, loved it.

I entered the HQ competition this year and received the standard R (rightly so) and it changed my life.

I began a critique group Angels of Romance, begging for members on the HQ blog. I no nothing about google or google groups, but worked until 4.30am answering queries from girls who'd received rejections or requests for more chapters etc., and were desperate to join.
I had sweaty palms and palpitations let me tell you!
A wonderful girl named Joanne, based in the USA, is a technical genius and has joined me as owner of the site. She set up Romance Angels, a network where writers can find a critique group. Joanne sets up groups for them and helps them moderate it.

Jilly, who won the competition, helped with 'how to run a critique group' information. Why re-invent the wheel?

I'm now a proud member of a group of six (we had twenty + but encouraged others to start their own groups) each one of us brings something to the party. One girl's won an editor's pitch in the USA - she's in the middle of revising an entire novel!
Another received a request for new synopsis and partial from Joanne! Poor thing's petrified, she's suffered from burnout in the past! She has a terrific voice and we've managed to get her to sign up to our 'write a chapter a week,' beginning tomorrow.

Er, one or two of us has also signed up with a crazy woman from Romance Angels who wants to do a 'book in a week' - first draft, written freely. They will be full of crap, but she wants to 'kick-start' the year. (I'm signed up for both!! - Do you see where I'm going with this?) We'll post our word count each day and our favourite sentence of the day! Because it's open, only our own groups will be able to critique - God help them!
We have found honest, constructive critique partners. We know exactly where we've gone 'wrong' (and boy, have we gone wrong!!) Passive narrative, adverb diarrhoea, plot driven, no interaction between hero/heroine or not enough, bad dialogue, horrible heroes - I could go on but you would lose the will to live!!
My heroine walked into a room in flats and kicked off 4" heels! (Now that's what I call a miracle!)

What I'm trying to say is - none of the above would have happened if I had not found your blog.

You talk about Karma and you are so right - all that good stuff you sent out into the worldwide web is coming back to you thousands of times over and over again. You are an incredibly giving and passionate writer and we at Angels of Romance and Romance Angels salute you.

Er...and no pressure Trish...but have you thought of publishing the sixteen lessons on Insanity? Just a thought.

Remember, what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger. 2009 has gone, bring on 2010!! And congratulations on being one of this years finalists!

May the muse be with you!

Christine Carmichael XX

Michelle Styles said...

Roll on 2010.
And you can do it!
Hooray that you are back!
I suspect your writing will be stronger because of what you have been through.
And remember even one new paragraph is something.

Nicola Marsh said...

So glad to have you back, hun!

Have missed you something shocking!

Nic x

Melissa Blue said...

Ha. Speaking of the devil. I used "smiling below the wrist" phrase and someone loved it. I gave credit. And you should know I said you were a goddess. So then I decided to come by to see, hope, that you were upright.

So, big, big hugs. Here's hoping 2010 is better for you.

Kate Walker said...

luck Trish. Hope you reach the top of that mountain and that the view from up there is just great

Kate

Trish Wylie said...

GREAT idea Janet. Now... I don't suppose you remember my password to get in there? Should really charge up the laptop and get all that stuff outta there, shouldn't I? You'd think there'd be a magic internet fairy who did all that for me, wouldn't you? *Sigh*

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Christine! And welcome to the insanity!!! Your group sounds amazing. Believe me when I tell you there's nothing beats support from your online writing friends. It's an isolated job and the Romance Writing community is hands down the most supportive bunch of people I've ever met!I'm so glad this little Blog got it started for you. :) And THANK YOU for the congrats on the RT nomination!!! Good news to start what is hopefully a good year, right? May the muse be with you too ;)

Trish Wylie said...

I hope so Michelle! One word at a time, right? Hope all is well in your neck of the woods my friend and love to DD! You can tell her Charlie is in and awaiting new shoes, a haircut and a nice Equine back specialist who is supposed to be coming to give him a massage this week. Half his luck!

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Nic!!! Good to me back my darling one. Missed you too!!!!!!!

Trish Wylie said...

Hi Melissa! Wish I could say I hold the patent on that phrase, but I'm pretty sure it's been around for a while. SO APT though! Are you working on a new book honey? Come SHARE! Missed my RWA hug last year :(

Trish Wylie said...

Hello my darling Kate! I hope so too. The climb feels very daunting from here at the bottom of the slope. Really need to switch off my inner editor for a while until I get going again. Tonnes of love to you and BM! I think of you guys at least once a day! Sometimes more ;)

Olivia Gates said...

SO good to see you again, Trish!! May 2010 be your best year yet, on ALL fronts!

Love and hugs
Olivia

Trish Wylie said...

Love and hugs back Olivia! And HAPPY NEW YEAR! Looking forward to baklava this summer ;)

Anonymous said...

Trish,

Onwards and upwards for 2010 may it be a good one for you ... and for ALL of us. And I did find your blog encouraging (2009 wasn't great for this fan of yours' either!)

You don't me but we did meet up at one of your workshops and I thought you were GREAT and so amusing to boot which is always a help - no matter what the circumstances.

Many thanks for your amusing blog and for your writers' tips ... you are a generous and gifted writer.

Take care and all best wishes for this new decade and to many, many words that will come flowing effortlessly like Pacino and his Tango!!

From one of your readers in the ROI as *some* people call it!

Love your new office ... very swish!
PP

Trish Wylie said...

Hello fellow Irish person!

And AMEN to 2010 being a better year. Can't get any worse is how I saw it when I rolled up my sleeves and came back to work. But so far... no major disasters... *fingers crossed/touch wood*

Thanks so much for the nice comment about the workshop and being amusing. I'm a big fan of the funny. And the crazy. Though in fairness the latter I have to love in order to keep my sanity (or what's left of it!). The workshops and talks are SUCH fun to do! But I have to admit, towards the end of last year I was becoming more and more nervous about doing them. The whole knock-to-my-confidence thing again, I'd say. So hearing people enjoy them or can take anything from any of the stuff I do here or on my website is the nicest possible thing you can say to me. That and the question 'have you lost weight?' always warm my heart ;)

Glad you like the office. It's one of my favorite little corners of the universe now.

Thanks SO MUCH for dropping by!!!

Nina in Ohio said...

Good to see you back Trish!!

Here's to the metaphorical broom sweeping all the negative vibes of 2009 away and re-energizing you for 2010. We missed ya!

Nina in Ohio