Paradise Lost


Great quote I discovered in an old (October 2004) issue of Writer’s Digest: “The most essential ingredient is an absolute belief in yourself and the fact that you’ll succeed, even despite alleged ‘evidence’ to the contrary.”

It’s a quote by Lynda Sandoval, a successful novelist (and ex-cop) who faced numerous setbacks after some publishing snafus. Rather than slinking off to some corner and wallowing in self-pity, she regrouped and decided to write exactly what she wanted to write instead of following trends or copying the tricks of other authors. She now has fourteen books under her belt and a loyal following, not to mention a few awards for her work.

I love that she identifies self-confidence as the most critical tool a writer must have in her arsenal. Most of all, I love that she eschews the very tempting and lucrative path of writing for commercial success, and instead advocates writing what speaks true to oneself. (Ironically, in the same issue is an article by copywriting guru Robert W. Bly, who recommends writing about “sex, relationships, diet, exercise, investing, personal finance and online marketing.” He says that you’ll make more money doing so than if you were to pursue projects focused on, say, the “Civil War, choreography, particle physics or school administration.”)

It’s a tough decision, especially when you’ve got outstanding bills hanging over your head and a mortgage to pay (or the dream of a mortgage, for those of us who rent), but I suppose I’d rather be the dreamer and be inspired by the hope that, with a little luck, a little talent and a lot of perseverance, I can be among the ranks of Ms. Sandoval, et al.

I miss writing. I had to cut back on the crazy hours last week because of health concerns, not to mention the new job (I officially became a regular — i.e., not temporary — staff member today), and at first I thought I would be able to handle the break. I imagined that I might even enjoy the respite.

No. No. No. No. No.


I miss crying over my character’s missteps. His bleak future (which he doesn’t yet know about, of course, but I do). His conflicting emotions about his female friend. I miss yelling at him, puzzling over some weird, unexpected decision he made without consulting me. I didn’t think this would happen for awhile — not until the 200th page, at least — but I think he’s become real to me, as real as anyone I know, and perhaps even more so. So now I have to go back to him and give him his future, bleak shadows and all, and walk him through that life I’ve created for him. Even if it means getting up at 4am. Again.

Gawd. No wonder writers turn to drink and drugs.


One thought on “Paradise Lost

  1. Argh, hang in there, Marjorie! I recall how hard it was to write and work full-time. I did okay when work was in less-stressful cycles because then it was easier for me to relax into being creative on evenings and weekends. But when work was more stressful, it was much more difficult to get my mind to shift gears.That’s a great idea to get up at 4 a.m. That’s what I finally started doing, getting up at o’dark thirty. It’s tough to do, but at least it’s nice and quiet. Good luck! You’re clearly a writer who is committed to her craft, and you’ll make excellent progress, I am sure.

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