life, literature

A Writer At The End Of Her Rope

I might never again write any word of fiction.

I deeply love words, to put them together, shuffle them around, polish, make them glow and shine. I love to tell stories, to create characters, to live with them, to see them evolve and then give them the freedom to leave me and wander off to wherever they want to.

I feel bad when I’m not writing. It makes me unhappy, I often even feel I might suffocate on words. I need this time for myself, time spent in isolation with nothing but plots, characters, stories… words.

I can’t imagine any better job than to be a writer. I can’t picture a better life than one spent researching, thinking, writing. Yet…

I might never again write any word of fiction.

 

I have been creating characters since before I could write. I have written stories and poems since I could construct sentences. I have taken years of creative writing classes and workshops. I have written a number of novels that should never see the light of day because they are simply not good enough.

I have tried to sell two of my novels of which I’m unsure of the literary quality but of which I also think I wouldn’t want to change them. I had one literary agent trying to sell one of them and getting back to me with the conclusion that the subject is not “commercial” and so he couldn’t even get the publishing houses to read. (It’s about how alcoholism destroys lives – that of the drinker and those of all that are around him. It’s also about how hard it is to leave someone who drinks and to find yourself again after 20 years when you lost all the life you had.)

There was one chief editor of a mayor German publishing house who told me she loved the story and my writing but couldn’t convince the sales department to go for it.

Regarding the second novel, I “commercialized” it. I re-wrote, added, deleted until it was as much mainstream as I feel able to live with. One agent said for a love story it lacks humor. The next said it’s not commercial. One even found it boring because of the point of view (1st person).

I spent a sleepless night.  I thought about what I can do. And about what is wrong. Maybe I lack talent. Maybe my writing is not good enough. Maybe it’s because I don’t write crime, thriller, mystery. Perhaps I should put in vampires and a sex scene every 2nd page. I can’t. At the end of the day the simple truth might be that there is no audience for my kind of writing.

I have been fighting and withstanding for many years now. But I am only human. There are just so many blows I can take.  Right now I am so hurt and raw that my characters have left me and every sentence I try sounds off.  I don’t know if I can take any more damage.

A year and a half ago someone whose writing advice I cherish very much,  not only because she knows what she is talking about, said to me: “You can’t quit writing. You’ll lose skin, but you’ll get there. Onward.”  I kept going. I lost all the skin I had. I’m not there, not even close.

And right now I’m out of breath, bleeding, down on my knees.