- by Pati Nagle
Sometimes I have to remind myself how wonderful it is to be a writer. Yes, there are times I want to tear my hair out. Being involved in the publishing industry can do that. But the industry is a necessary side-effect of wanting to be paid for my work. I deal with it.
When times get especially stressful, I think about the things that make writing wonderful. Here are a few:
1. Playing make-believe
I get to spend time every day living out my fantasies in a world of my own creation. What a delight!
One of my mentors likes to say that writers have the best job in the world: they get paid to sit in a room and make stuff up. The getting paid takes a little effort of course, but it’s worth it.
2. Surprising myself: rogue characters
I love it when my characters start taking the plot into their own hands. It’s disconcerting, but I’ve learned to trust it. They always make improvements.
(Ah, she’s genuinely crazy, I hear you whisper. But no—I know that it’s my subconscious, expressing itself through my characters, that is actually at work here. You should hear the things those characters say, though!)
Not zoning out, but being in the zone. That place where you forget about your surroundings and the words fly across the page, until you eventually become aware that a chunk of time has gone by without your knowing it.
4. Surprising myself: planting seeds
Sometimes I’ll write something and then pause to wonder why. A description of some object, a throwaway line about some peripheral event, etc. It’s that subconscious plotter again. I leave the anomaly in, and then 40,000 words later discover that it’s the perfect thing to tie all my loose plot strands together. Magic!
5. Fan mail
Is it shallow to feel all warm and fuzzy about fan mail? Well, tough. It’s one of the perks of being a writer, and I enjoy it. I’ve been published for a couple of decades now, yet I still get all Sally Fields-ish when I receive mail from an enthusiastic fan.
That’s just five things. There are more. I’m sure you can think of some.