I would preach, and also hopefully practice, that when we are writing about real stuff more real stuff tends to come up. And not always in a good way.
That, to me, means I have to enjoy the act of writing as much as I can. Choose my hours, my implements, my setting, and my preparation with care. I have to really settle into the process, and not only respect it, but enjoy it. Love it, in fact, because it helps bring increasing clarity to our lives.
Then the work gets done and it doesn’t feel so much like work. Does that resonate?
Today it occurred to me that I had just done preparation for the preparation for tonight’s writing session based on preparation I had done based on preparation based on preparation based on preparation.
I guess you could say I like to be prepared. Or you might say that this kind of OCD will never substitute for true creativity. And I would agree except for the creative value preparation has in and of itself — where ideas tumble out, for both content and form.
I do agree that preparation must always segue into presence; when you are at the desk, the notes you have taken are not as important as the place you are in. Or as Bob Dylan says, “You always got to be prepared but you never know for what.”
I don’t know how recently you’ve stumbled across this site…but if you have been exposed to even a little bit about my work, you know there is NO WAY I am going to tell you that in a mini-blog. I hate shortcuts. Or, as Ro$hi says in video #6 from Finish Your Book in Three Drafts,
“If the way presented to you seems easy, it is probably false.”
And yet, a current client – whose book I love, by the way – emailed me this very question, saying: “You promised to tell me what makes a great book and what made you say that mine has the potential to be one. Now is the time for me to work toward fulfilling that potential!”
She says I promised this nugget in an in-person meeting. I honestly have no idea where that miscommunication occurred, but this is what I (fairly predictably) responded:
“That’s what we’ve been talking about all along my friend. That’s been in all of my comments urging you towards greater clarity, connections, and depth. There isn’t any secret to what makes a great book. It’s in the embrace of revision, the effort to not quit on a paragraph, a sentence, or even a word.”
I have a client who got her agent with the first query letter she sent out. She actually had to part ways with this agent and then got her next agent again on the first, next query letter she sent out.
I have a client who got her agent with the one-hundredth query letter she sent out. I thought that was a rounded-up number so I asked her, “Judge, is that just a guesstimate on your part?” To which responded, “No, Stuart, I kept track. It was the one hundredth agent I queried…”
I have a clients who got their agent on their seventeenth try. On their sixth try. Who haven’t gotten agents at all.
The point is this: You will never know. And because you will never know, you can only do what is in your control which is to not get attached. Keep sending out your queries and continue unbowed through rejection and/or neglect.