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The Creative Mindf*ck

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So I’ll say it. I’m ready for the year to end. I am looking forward to 2013, creatively. I’ve gotten myself into a jam this year with my writing—and I know I’ve talked a tiny bit about the tough spots I’ve found myself in during this year, but mostly I haven’t spoken about it. I haven’t told you. It was something best kept close, as often these things are.

Talking about the realities of being a published author can come across as crass, heartless to those still struggling to find agents or sign book contracts—I was there, for years, and I remember. It can also sound like I don’t appreciate what I have—and of course I do; it’s all I’ve ever wanted. And also, talking too much about this puts too much negativity out there, and why would any current or possible reader want to revel in that?

But in truth, even published authors go through rough patches when we sit down to write a new book. Not every word or idea that comes out of me now is good or worthy of keeping. Not even close. Since getting the book contract for Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone, I’ve trashed two entire book proposals (one middle-grade, and one YA) and I’ve cycled through so many possible ideas for what could be my next book that I realized I could have had a whole draft if I’d just stuck with one. The problem for me is reconciling the fact that, for me, my writing is the way I express myself, it’s my art. And the other fact that, since I left my day job, it’s also supposed to make me money now or whatever. These are two dueling realities that should not have to share a bed. It’s a creative mindf*ck for me, one I haven’t been able to iron out.

I’m not sure what I’ll decide to do in 2013, but I can tell you this: I am finishing out the year finally having found something that feels right, on the page. This next book—still in its very young stages, and not yet approved by my agent and not yet bought by a publisher, not even read by anyone apart from E—is what I want to write right now. When I work on it, I feel that fluttery feeling again, the one I get when there’s a book I want to spend years with and write the hell out of and dream about and see come alive on the shelf of a library one day.

If you were wondering what was going on behind the scenes with me and my writing, there it is. Now back to some more guest posts about other people’s books!

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4 thoughts on “The Creative Mindf*ck

  1. “Not every word or idea that comes out of me now is good or worthy of keeping.” This is often one of the hardest parts of post-publication life to accept. That, and the fact that published authors still get rejections.

    I’ve scrapped one whole novel and parts of many many others since publishing my first. Although “scrapped” is a relative term. I often take pieces from stories that didn’t work and reuse them.

    Congrats on getting that fluttery feeling again! Nothing else seems to be as reliable when seeking that next project …

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