Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dang-a-rito

Today I'm sad. One of my critique partners is quiting. Not just the group but writing all together so it seems. I hate to lose a valuable crit partner who always offered great insight, but I hate to see a dream die even more. And her departure and decision to stop somehow makes me feel vulnerable because she is every bit as good of a writer as myself. Maybe better.

I've told numerous people that writing is part of who I am. That I will never quit regardless of what becomes of my novels. This morning I find myself wondering if my now former critique partner ever said the same thing. I still view her as a friend and I always will, but I today I feel like a kid who just found the receipts for for the new bike Santa gave him in his dad's wallet.

Reading over what I've written I realize that I have made it sound like rejection and the difficult task of writing has made her throw in the towel. Actually here are many factors such as health and time, that led her to this decision. She never mentioned discouragement as a reason, but every writer has felt the cold shadowy sensation of doubt once or twice. What hit me hardest was the fact that she had simply lost the passion.

Now that I've depressed every one of you let's move on to Two Line Tuesday. First fro my weeks reading ...

Los Chimichangosrolled Skippitoup snung as a bug and began to chant, "Muchas gracias, Skippy-dippy-dango, Bye Bobble-ito, boogie-woogie tango, Muchos poochos, licky-sticky mango, Gozo bozo, chimi-chimi-chango." And they carried the purr-ito all the way back to his room.


That comes from my boys favorite book at the moment Skippyjon Jones in The Dog House by Judy Schachner. If you've never heard of the Skippyjon Jones books they are about a Siamese cat that thinks he is a chihuahua and they are quite hilarious for kids and the adults who read them aloud.

And while I am still tweaking my query letter for Plundered Booty, here is a bit from the way it now stands. Though I am far from satisfied with either the query or the last few chapters.

Plundered Booty is a modern day pirate story that spans from the red dirt of Oklahoma, to the white sands of the Caribbean. Like many a tale it is about love ... love and lust, Caribbean rum and brand new automobiles, blatant lies and plundered dreams.

Don't forget to check out the wondrous Women of Mystery blog since they are the originators of Two Line Tuesday.

So tell me, ever take a closer look at your own dreams when someone else throws in the towel. Ever read a Skippyjon Jones book? Like a a good pirate tale? What about a love story? Are you lusting after somebody or something right now? Inquiring minds want to know.

34 comments:

DrillerAA said...

I think we all get a little frustrated when something we love do to either doesn't work out the way we hoped or our schedule doesn't allow us to devote adequate time to the pursuit of our passion. It's OK to adjust our avocation, it is sad to give it up altogether. I have never professed to being a writer, even as a hobby, but I do like to express my opinion and share my thoughts through blogging. I just don't have deadlines to meet. Works for me.

ChrisEldin said...

She will be back. Trust me. Maybe not in the group, but back to writing...
Don't we all 'quit' every six months?

Keep your own spirits up, and keep writing.

Jenster said...

It's so easy to be overcome by doubts. I hope she'll change her mind and get back to it.

spyscribbler said...

My favorite writer and first writing friend quit. She was writing fast, fast, FAST to pay the bills, and she just burned out. Got a regular job, and never looked back.

I confess this 24-hour work schedule gets to me. I have no life. All I do is work, whether it's teaching or writing. It's to the point where I feel guilty for sitting back and listening to music or reading a book.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I've quit writing at least a half dozen times in the past four years. It usually lasts a few weeks and then the words call to me again. The longest quit I ever had was 9 months, and it was my first. They get shorter and farther between as time goes by. If your friend really has quit for good, that's so sad, but I'll cross my fingers for the hope she's just taking a break.

Your book sounds awesome. I can't wait to see it in print.

Bina said...

I've lusted many times in my life and the feeling, while completely ecstatic, has caused me some problems, so that leads me to say, YES! I LOVE a good love story as long it's not ... sappy? Unreal??

And who doesn't like pirate stories???? I would love to live a day with actual pirates, but I guess THAT will never happen!

Patti said...

lately, i have wondered how much sacrifice is enough for writing. am i at my limit? but then i realize that if i couldn't get the words out and down my life would seem off kilter. so like you i will continue on regardless of what happens. i need to write...i was born for it. well, that and beer...and those tasty tint white donuts...and sometimes a great big glass of rum with a tiny bit of coke mixed in...

Charles Gramlich said...

I've been thinking of this issue some myself. SHould I keep going in the pretty sure knowledge that I'm always going to be a small press writer and never make any real money? I do love it, but I also spend a whole lot of time on it that I could be using to sit on my deck. But when I get into the story, I want to keep telling them. SO, for now, for me, I'll keep hammering. But I could see a day when I wouldn't

Clare2e said...

First- I like the ambiance of your query, Travis.

Second- I think it's important to feel free to quit. Especially if you aren't published or under contract, no one else cares as much as you if you continue, and sometimes the breathing space to know you can walk away without guilt gives the enthusiasm a chance to rekindle.

Just like physical muscles, I think the creative ones need a break to recuperate and become stronger. We accept those rest periods as part of the highest-level workout for athletes, but when we're aspiring writers, we tend to think we have to keep pushing and producing every free moment like spyscribbler noted. The pauses are a natural part of the growth process, they refresh and makes you better, IM(H)O.

Katrina said...

This quote by Brian Tracy sums it up for me:

"Between you and every goal that you wish to achieve, there is a series of obstacles, and the bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacles. Your decision to be, have and do something out of the ordinary entails facing difficulties and challenges that are out of the ordinary as well. Sometimes your greatest asset is simply your ability to stay with it longer than anyone else."

preTzel said...

How sad. I know I quit writing for a long time because I can't handle rejection in any form. Oh, I wrote here and there but it was never for pleasure. The one and only rejection letter was my last because I have not submitted any of my stuff anywhere since because I'm afraid of hearing "Not good enough."

Remember when Ello put up the MeMe to write 5 strengths in you as a writer? (http://www.pretzelplace.net/2007/10/strength-in-writer.html)
Maybe you should ask that of your friend. She really should take a step back if she's feeling burnt out but what she really should do is reach in to her soul and find what it was that brought her joy and pleasure during writing.

I think a lot of writers get burnt out because they are facing deadlines and we forget what it was that made us begin in the first place.

I hope she comes back to it Travis.

Lyndi Lamont said...

Travis, sorry to hear your crit partner is quitting. She may come back to the writing. I've quit before but never for long. If it's in your blood, you have to write. There's just no other choice.

The Skippyjon books sound cute. I may pick up one for my great nephew. He's seven. That isn't too old, is it?

One suggestion in the query letter: in the first sentence I'd substitute a more active verb for "spans" like "races" or "explodes". The second sentence is great as is. Good luck with your queries. And yes, I love a good pirate tale. :)

Linda / Lyndi

pattinase (abbott) said...

I felt pretty bad when I quit one of my critiquing groups. They got upset when I wrote on my blog that they didn't "get" flash fiction. I meant that they didn't like it not that they didn't understand it, but it turned into a real thing on my blog and I had to remove the whole entry finally and quit the group. But I felt really bad because it was a valuable resource. It sounds stupid now and it was. On both sides. This is an issue other than what you meant but it;s one of the problems with critiquing groups. It does get personal sometimes.

Leigh said...

I've seen two talented people quit because they couldn't handle critiques, perhaps the poorest of reasons.
http://criminalbrief.com/?p=11

I confess to mixed feelings when I read a 76-year-old man's comment of a list server recently, where he justified resorting to a publish-on-demand (vanity) press. He dreamt of seeing his book in print and felt he didn't have the mortal time left to wade through the years of rejection before (possibly) being published. I don't know if his book is any good or not, but he was determined it was going to be available on amazon.com.

While I feel a reluctant and perverse respect for his approach, it makes me more sympathetic for those who put in the years of effort, learning, rejection, doubt, hardship, and strain on relationships to endure the hurdles and rigors to see their work finally published.

Travis Erwin said...

Y'all have raised some great points. I can understand someone burning out but I think in this case my friend has simply lost the passion. I hope it returns.

And Charles, your response surprised me. I consider you one of the guys who has made it. maybe not to fame and fortune, just yet but you are a heck of a lot closer than most.

natalie said...

To stop writing would make life so much easier on me (and my family), but I have no choice now that I have chosen this path. The mind is a funny thing when you give it permission to create. The story ideas and characters will not go away. I tell myself that I will write this one story and then take a breather. But before I can finish one thing, a strange and vivid character is disturbing my sleep and I have to start something new. (Plus I am a lot nicer person when I get my writing fix.) I hope your friend finds her true passion, whatever it may be. The thing about writing is there are so many opportunities. Not everybody was born to write a novel. Great blog, Travis. Keep up the good work!

Monnik said...

oh, I'm sad for your friend. I feel the same way about a dear friend of mine who is getting a divorce. It makes me sad for her - shattered dreams, lost hope, all of that.

I'm going to have to check out one of those skippyjon books.

Mary Witzl said...

I agree with Chris: she'll be back. I've quit plenty of times.

And I believe you mentioned burritos in your post, didn't you? That's what I'm lusting over just now, never mind that you spelled it with a P and were using it to refer to a Siamese cat...

Linda McLaughlin said...

Travis, I did my first Two Sentence Tuesday post, so thought I'd mention it here. Thanks for the idea. :) I always enjoy your posts.

Linda

Melissa Marsh said...

LOVE Skippyjon Jones. And reading them aloud is SO much fun.

She might come back to writing. There was a time last year where I had lost the passion, and I simply needed to just allow myself to walk away for a little bit. But sure enough, it didn't take me long to come back. I just needed a break. I think all creative people do.

Barbara Martin said...

Everyone comes to a place in their writing, the effort put in and the decision has to come from within. But, for me, I tend to keep going despite the odds. I like my stories, my "fresh eyes" like my stories, my editor liked my first story, and because of this I will keep going. It's a personal decision, and sometimes very difficult to choose. Hopefully she'll change her mind and come back. Maybe she only needed a bit more encouragement, or needs a hiatus from the writing.

Pirate stories? I love pirate stories, and pirate movies: the old 40s style swash bucklers to the more modern Pirates of the Caribbean. Sea captains with peg legs, eye patches and parrots. {Did you know pirates wear eye patches because they allowed the parrot on their shoulder? Not a good thing, soon there's no eyeball. It's a fact...I have two senegals and you wouldn't find me allowing them near my face.)

Sizzle said...

It's sad to lose a passion or watch someone lose it.

Skippyjon Jones is MY FAVORITE! I love reading them (I think more than my nephew loves hearing them).

yellowdog granny said...

Im going to write my 'great american' novel..as soon as all the people I'm going to write about die...

Marla said...

It is hard when someone else throws in the towel. Maybe it will just take time and she will be back in her own way. Passions come and go and move into other passions.

Sage said...

I am sorry to hear about your crit partner but I have to admit...sometimes this path we have chosed is downright "daunting"!

After the conference I was so motivated..jumped right in and got to the end of my story and now that the "real" work begins...without any quarantee's I'm thinkin', "what the hell?!". But I am plugging on!

It sounds to me like your crit partner may think she wants a divorce but is considering a trial separation.

Methinks author Travis respects this persons' ability, thereby doubting his own if she can walk away...what's the point of you bashing your head against the keyboard day after day then?

You be that part of that 5% Travis and never give up. Rememaber me clutching the coattails thang!

Sage said...

I am sorry to hear about your crit partner but I have to admit...sometimes this path we have chosed is downright "daunting"!

After the conference I was so motivated..jumped right in and got to the end of my story and now that the "real" work begins...without any quarantee's I'm thinkin', "what the hell?!". But I am plugging on!

It sounds to me like your crit partner may think she wants a divorce but is considering a trial separation.

Methinks author Travis respects this persons' ability, thereby doubting his own if she can walk away...what's the point of you bashing your head against the keyboard day after day then?

You be that part of that 5% Travis and never give up. Rememaber me clutching the coattails thang!

Sage said...

how did that happen?! talk about repetitive!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Skippyjon ROCKS!!

As for lust, all the time, babycakes. All the time.

Lana Gramlich said...

Skippyjon sounds hysterical. I'll have to see if we have it at our library...
As for writing, do you do it because you love writing, or because you want to be rich & famous? Do what you love, the world be damned. On the other hand, what if you quit writing today (for example,) but tomorrow you would have sold that book?
I don't get discouraged by others' discouragement (if that's a word,) but I do sometimes want to put my paintbrushes away when I see stuff like Robert Bateman's. It helps when;
1. Charles reminds me that we just have different styles, &
2. I remind myself that I paint because I enjoy it.

Bernita said...

Ah, that's sad.
But I had to do it once for family reasons.

Anonymous said...

Jenn says:

This really has bothered Travis. Not to the fact he wonders himself if he looses the writer in him. That will never happen.
I cannot imagine Travis not writing. I do not think it is just a passion for Travis, it is who he is. Travis is a story teller I do not care if it is on paper or just out of his mouth. He gets this gleam in his eye and his one eyebrow raises when he tells a story.

Travis will never quit writing where will all those characters go he talks about like they are real people. It used to worry me at first with his make believe friends. Now it just happens like normal conversation.

Travis will always write and tell stories. You cant change him.

Shauna Roberts said...

Sorry to hear about your critique partner.

I feel frustrated and guilty when my friends abandon their dreams, as if I could have kept their hopes up if I were wiser or a better friend.

Someone else's quitting only strengthens my resolve to keep going.

That said, my need is to be creative, not specifically to write. If in 5 or 10 or 15 years, fiction writing turns out to have been a sinkhole that has taken vast time and energy and given nothing back, then I'll switch to some other creative outlet.

What is the meaning of being alive if one isn't chasing after dreams?

Travis said...

I'm sorry your friend has chosen to set aside writing. Maybe it will just be for a time.

I'm in an extended "why do I even bother" phase myself.

AA said...

Perhaps she just needs a short break?

I hardly write much poetry anymore, but when I put forth the effort, I believe it to be more purposeful. (If that's a word.)