Tuesday, March 5, 2013

As published authors we are more than just a sum of our word count and our pages

I am publishing my Insecure Writers Support Group post early this week as I am scheduled for surgery today to get the kidney stone out that has been plaguing me for a while, and I may not put up another blog post before next Monday. You can read about my battle with the 1 cm kidney stone HERE.

In Salt Lake City where I live I have a few friends that show me their writing and ask for advice. One of them showed me something last night that I thought was really good. It showed great imagination, and I was really entertained by it. I asked him, "Why don't you write more? This could easily be turned into a short story or a novella."

He said, "I have several problems that stop me from writing a complete story. The first is I lack courage to put my writing out there for just everyone to read. The second is that I keep adding to a story and my brain goes wild with all the things I want to do that I'm just out of control and the story becomes a complete hot mess."

It made me think how special all of us are that actually have written "the end" to a project; that manage to see something through to its ultimate finish. And I became really appreciative of that. Lately, I've kind of had this attitude that authors are as common as grains of sand on a beach. But now, I'm not so sure.

So if any of you have been in the same frame of mind that I sometimes find myself in...the one that says "everyone is writing a book," then I want you to step back and remember the story of the guy I just told you about. Everyone is in fact NOT writing a book. And some people who may be born storytellers may never finish one because they have mental "road blocks" in their mind that keep them from realizing a dream. What we manage to just "power" through is an impossible task for others.

As published authors, we are more than just a sum of our word count and our pages. We are people who complete what we start. We are people who manage to tame the conflicting ideas into a cohesive storyline that can be understood by others. And we are all people who have the courage to put our work in front of others to be judged over and over again.

And THAT is in fact nothing to be insecure about.

When I think about the great writers who have died and realize that they will never tell me another story like the ones that deeply touched me, I am sad. But I am also grateful that they had all of the things that made it possible for them to put their story in front of us. If David Eddings didn't have courage, I would have never been touched by the story of Belgarion of Riva. If Anne McCaffery couldn't sort out the hot mess of her mind to finish a book, I would never have met Moretta, Dragon Lady of Pern.

If you think about it, there are a lot of conditions that need to be met before a book lands in front of you on a desk or on your ereader. And that's pretty special, and it's one reason why I think the greatest crime ever committed in history was the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

All of those stories lost because ignorant savages saw no value or even contemplated what it takes to write a book. And the world has paid for it ever since.

57 comments:

Donna Hole said...

Dang; blogger ate my comment, and I'm too tired to re-write it.

This was encouraging Mike. I hope your surgery goes well tomorrow (today) and you have a speedy and comfortable recovery.

......dhole

L.G. Keltner said...

Good luck with your surgery!

Ted Cross said...

Well, I'm not a published author yet, but I have completed works. Hope you feel better quickly!

Lexa Cain said...

I've definitely had some "hot mess" experiences when trying to think up and plan new ideas. I try to soldier on, though. I hope your surgery goes well.
Feel better soon! :-)

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Mike,
I hope the surgery goes smoothly and that you recover quickly.

I'm glad you wrote this. I go on only because of sheer doggedness. I'd never rest easy if I don't finish what I start, which is why I tend to share what I'm working on. Yeah, it takes courage and discipline to get what we start finished. The world would certainly be a different place if we didn't have the wealth of knowledge we do have through books that survived through the ages. Thanks again.

Tonja said...


Good luck with the surgery, and take care of yourself afterward.

Cindy said...

There was a time when I struggled to finish a novel. People who don't write just don't understand what all goes into it. This post made me motivated and less insecure.

Good luck today. I will be thinking of you.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well said! We finished writing and our books were published. That is rare indeed.

Melissa Rose said...

I grew up around art. My grandmother is a painter, we didn't have TV so my dad taught us different drawing games. By the time I was in high school I was pretty good and getting better. But than I discovered writing. I pushed it aside to finish my novel, and during that time my sister's drawing ability sky rocketed. She's amazing now, and I'm still stunted where I was way back in high school

The point of this being, there was a time wee it depressed me that I gave it up for writing. I thought everyone could write a book and drawing took something special, but I realize that isn't the case. Everyone can write a book. Everyone can draw, or paint, but not everyone can see it to the bitter end.

I agree fully with you.

PT Dilloway, Grumpy Bulldog said...

Fine, not everyone is writing a book...just a lot of people.

Can't wait to hear about how your surgery goes. Hopefully they get you hopped up on morphine again.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I hope you heal quickly Michael!

Excellent post, you read my insecure mind! Some days it does feel like we are those grains of sand, but then I remind myself (with the help of posts like this!) that there was a time when I felt horribly alone and knew no one that wanted to (seriously) be a writer.

But now I am surrounded...but looking around our little community...at the support being given to Chad Morris...it's a heck of a great family to be in!

Sarah Ahiers said...

I think i'll miss Anne McCaffrey for the rest of my life.
And you're so right about feeling like everyone is a writer. But also, i think that's probably just because we tend to surround ourselves and attract other writers, so our vision is skewed.
I hope your surgery goes quick and well!

Hart Johnson said...

It's true--some people just don't seem to have the temperament to FINISH stuff. I have a few friends who write beautifully, but they won't make time unless they feel inspired... they are missing the fact that you just have to keep writing ANYWAY.

I sympathize with your friend though. When I wrote my first book, I kept adding in the kitchen sink and it DID end up a hot mess. I think I thought it was my one chance... that it was the only book I would write and if I failed to put something in, homage would not be paid to that strand. Tell your friend to write it anyway. Assure him that even getting out a hot mess of a first book is STILL writing a book, and it will teach him to write the story he needs to write. My sixth book was probably the first that really should have entered the 'seeking publishing' stream, but I learned a ton with the five that came before.

Elise Fallson said...

Bring your lightsaber with you into surgery. Just to keep the doctors on their toes. Then take the time you need to rest well afterwards. (:

Rusty Webb said...

Feel better. Very inspiring this month.

Stephen Hayes said...

I hope your surgery is successful and the doctors can rid you of that pesky stone. Take care.

Danette said...

Good points. It's not everyone who can put their mind to that task and finish it to completion and it is something to be proud of.

I was thinking of you when I popped over- came to wish you well on your surgery and didn't expect a post but of course you had one prepped and ready to go. Hope all is going well and that you are feeling a bit better by the time you read this. Best wishes and a speedy recovery!

btw: I am not I didn't really post the real reasons I am not blogging right now- it's been a difficult couple of months to say the least but your blog is always a bright spot even if I don't comment all the time! Cheers my friend!

Liz said...

It's easy to get into our little world where everyone is writing a book. It's like being in the little world of college where everyone is a student or any other subset of society where like minds come together.

But there are a lot of people who are not in our little world. And a lot of people who put up their own mental blocks keeping them from joining our little world.

Great post. Hope you feel better soon.

Andrew Leon said...

I have a lot of agreement with over the Alexandria thing. I just can't imagine it. Actually, the most painful things I ever see in movies and such is when people are destroying unique works of art. That thing, that individual accomplishment, is just gone forever.

L.G. Smith said...

"And that's pretty special, and it's one reason why I think the greatest crime ever committed in history was the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

All of those stories lost because ignorant savages saw no value or even contemplated what it takes to write a book. And the world has paid for it ever since."

These last words made me so happy. That's how my character feels because it's happened in her country, and that's why she and her father start a revolution...well, other reasons too. :)

Anyway, I totally agree with you that many people are writing, but not everyone knows how to finish a novel. And writing one well enough to get it published is a whole other beast.

Sending you good thoughts and hoping your surgery goes well. May you have handsome young nurses to give you sponge baths while you recover. :))

Charity Bradford said...

Wonderful post Michael! I know we've all felt like that grain of sand. The next time it overtakes me I'm going to remember this post.

I hope everything goes well today and that you get feeling much better quickly!

Mel Chesley said...

I hope the surgery goes well, sweetie. And you're right, we are special to be able to power through the way we do.
I have felt the way your friend does sometimes, but then I get it all worked out. But not everyone can do that or wants to do that. They can have talent, but be too afraid to share their gift.

mooderino said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery.

mood

M Pax said...

First off, I hope your surgery goes well and you recover quickly. I'll miss you and your wit until your return.

This is a great post for us all to print out and tack beside our computers. I know a lot of folks not brave enough to put their work out there. Or never finish. We're in the game and that's a very special place to be.

Cherie Reich said...

Sending you good thoughts! I hope the surgery goes well!

What a great reminder! It's easy to get caught up that everyone has a book out and dismiss how hard it is to get a book from first word to finished product and how many never reach that final stage.

Laura Eno said...

I hope your recovery is a breeze!

You put this so well. Sometimes it does seem like everybody is writing a book but then I realize that writers are who I associate with almost exclusively. I've noticed that while many people say they WANT to write a book, few actually accomplish the feat. The dragons of Pern are very special friends to me!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Good luck Michael.

Take care of yourself and FEEL BETTER SOON!

I definitely have felt this way from time to time. When I completed my first novel, a close friend at the time told me ....
"WOW... that is amazing. NOT everyone can write a novel." I think of those words a lot when I get discourage with my personal journey. BUT then something wonderful happens .... a cheery comment of support and liking of my latest prose, and those thoughts fade away like snow melting on early spring morning.

Helena said...

I hope your surgery goes perfectly and your recovery is speedy.

Thanks for the message that those of us who simply finish writing a book have really accomplished something. Sometimes we expect so much from ourselves we forget what we've already done.

Brinda said...

Thanks, Mike. I needed this.

Also, I will be sending good morphine vibes your way tomorrow. *hugs*

Lara Schiffbauer said...

Good luck tomorrow. That doesn't sound like a fun way to spend a Wednesday at all.

Your post is so very inspiring. When I hear of all the statistics about people writing books, and see the number of writers on different social media forums and sites, it is extremely easy to feel disheartened. The points you make in your post are so good for us as writers to remember. It is something special to finish a book. And to continue to write, and finish the second, and then the third - well, that's super-special. :) Thank you for the reminder.

Yolanda Renee said...

Be safe and be well!

Interesting blog, yes I have several unfinished manuscripts, and sometimes they want my attention, but I two finish, one almost there and another still jockeying for my attention. I think once you finish the first one, doing it a second and third time, etc. gets easier. Then there are the folks that write a book a week -- gosh to have that problem!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Best of luck with surgery. So sad what happened to the Library of Alexandria. Books are special, no one story is alike. Just like their authours.

Kyra Lennon said...

Very well said! I definitely fall into that "everyone's writing a book" mentality sometimes, but it really isn't true.

Good luck with the surgery!

Catherine Stine said...

Nice post. The world is built upon stories and most are not ones that have been published. Everyone has a fascinating story or two. But those of us who have done the grueling and also joyous work of completing and publishing a novel should totally celebrate this amazing accomplishment!

Michael Pierce said...

That's a great thing to remember becasue it does feel like everyone's writing abook now and it's no big deal...anyone can do it...but that's not true. Everyone has ideas for a book, but there still are a lot of people that don't have the dedication, focus, and follow-through to reach "the end." Great post and I hope your surgery goes well and you're blessed with a speedy recovery.

farawayeyes said...

Great post. Thanks for the encouragement. Hope everything comes out OK. Feel better soon.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

What an excellent, beautiful post! I love this! I've put it in my Evernote so I can refer to it later. I've had that attitude, as well, of writers being a dime a dozen. It's not really true, though, is it?

Briane P said...

Good luck with the surgery. I hope you told your writer buddy that he should just write, anyway?

I'm still plugging away at "Oculus," by the way. My slow reading is not your writing, which is great; it's my lifestyle, which leaves me little time for reading.

nutschell said...

I hope your surgery goes well! ANd you're right. We are all lucky to have even finished a manuscript.
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

kmckendry said...

Very well said. It is something really special to finish a book. It's sad to think about all the stories and knowledge that was lost in Alexandria.

Good luck with your surgery! I'll be thinking of you.

Laura said...

Hope your surgery went well! Ouch!

Great post, really inspiring, and something all the wonderful authors in blogland need to hear I think. Guys, I salute you for writing 'The End'

Get well soon

Laura x

Belle said...

Yes, many people start to write but can't finish. It is a great achievement to finish a book. I pray your surgery will go well. May God's hand be upon you.

J.L. Campbell said...

Waiting...waiting...hope everything went well today.

Julia King said...

Oh my, I hope you are doing better. I've heard kidney stones are insane! I'm so sorry you have to deal with that pain.

This blog post is brilliant. All I can say is: Amen, brother!

Matthew MacNish said...

Good luck with your surgery, Mike!

Shay Lacy said...

Dang, Mike, I go into the editing cave and you get stones. I hope you're recovering speedily with more of the magic meds.

You read McCaffrey? WTG!

I surround myself with writers, so I do think everybody writes. But I meet many wannabees who never put pen to paper. So sad for them.

Mina Burrows said...

Stones suck, My husband had them. I hope your surgery goes okay. Feel better.

It's hard to take leaps in the publishing world. I know I've struggled with it. All we can do is our best and support others as well. :)

Mina Burrows said...

Stones suck, My husband had them. I hope your surgery goes okay. Feel better.

It's hard to take leaps in the publishing world. I know I've struggled with it. All we can do is our best and support others as well. :)

Gwen Gardner said...

There is a great feeling of accomplishment when you type "The End."

My sister gets kidney stones a lot and I know they're very painful. Hope all is well now :)

Stephen Tremp said...

Just think of all the knowledge and culture and history lost when throw Library of Alexandria was sacked. We as a race have lost so much.

michelle said...

I hope your surgery went well Michael!
Great post!

tfwalsh said...

Great post... very moving and reminds us all to never give up:)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Since you commented on my blog this Saturday, your surgery must have gone well. I am thankful! Kidney stone pain is terrible. I hope your recovery is swift!

Milo James Fowler said...

Holy cow -- hope your surgery went well and you're able to take the time to recover. Very encouraging post. I too believe there are more writers than readers out there, but maybe those of us who finish the projects we start and get them published are fewer than the stars above.

Trisha F said...

I've got no probs finishing a project, but that doesn't mean it won't be a hot mess by the time I'm finished. ;) That's why I need to edit. A lot.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm sorry about the kidney stone. I hope everything went well. I've had two kidney stones, and my husband has had a few. When they're in the wrong place, it's agony.

Nice to have a new perspective on how much you've accomplished. I can't tell you how many people who say they want to write, but... You've done it. You continue to do it.

Kiru Taye said...

I'd never really thought about it this way. But you're right. Being able to sort through the jumbled mess of our imaginations and type to the end of a story is quite special. Thank you for reminding me.

I'm glad your surgery went well. Thank you for your recent visit to my blog.