Wednesday, February 17, 2010

OMG, I've contracted a disease!

I really haven’t, but the title of the post captured your attention, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Also, in the interest of no hard feelings, I’ve recently adopted one of Julia Child’s sayings as my own “No explanations, no excuses and no apologies”. This is exactly how I see things--how I've always operated--so if I offend anyone with subject matter in this post, it’s not intentional, just my blogging opinion.

So diseases. Not suffering, I am, however, in something of a pickle. I’m dealing with a huge case of writer’s block—not block exactly, it’s more like brain fatigue. I know where I want this book to go. I’ve even got it outlined. I just can’t get my brain fired enough to propel my fingers to actually type the words.

Oh jeez, words. Where do they come from? How do I know they’re gonna be the right choice?

Do you see how it is?

In this situation, I would tell myself to take my own advice and work on a new short piece. Fat chance! Yes, I’ve got ideas for stories that should get me through 2011, but my brain refuses to unstick itself from the giant suck of the Molasses Swamp. Some people will say go read a book and that’ll get my pistons firing. Been there, tried that. Nope. Others will say get out of the house, go see a movie, etc. Yeah, did that too. Nothing. Still searching for that miracle cure for this disease.

How did I even get to this pass? This sort of thing just does not happen to me. I’m always busy with writing. I never stop, right? Well, hello brick wall. I’ve smacked into it so hard you can see the impressions on my forehead. Sigh.

I think there are a number of things that have contributed to brain fatigue. Constantly thinking up topics for blogs, doing promotions for releasing books, dealing with edits, getting together submission packets, blah, blah, blah. Some of the promotional stuff I really like. Some, not so much. You may not think these types of things sap a writer’s strength, but have them build up over time and baby, they’re deadly. A writer is pulled in hundreds of directions and eventually, there will be no more energy.

Add on top of that housework, laundry, cooking countless dinners, cleaning up the kitchen, yada, yada, yada, and it’s a wonder I’m not dead every night.

And don’t even get me started on the social networking aspect of life. If I don’t log on, my fans don’t feel connected. If I post too much, then some people get annoyed. Where’s the happy medium? What am I supposed to be doing?

I still don’t understand the concept of Twitter. Is this site supposed to be for promotions or what? If not and I don’t have the followers, what’s the point of putting anything in the status line? In this, I’m so glad there’s a limit of 140 characters. Any more than that and I might have to stab out my eyes with a pen.

Quite frankly, I have found Twitter to be very pro-print author books and not a whole lot of chatter about e-published ones. I mean, while I hear every once in awhile about e-published books buzz, the great bulk of it is about New York authors. While that’s great and everything, it’s frustrating for us in the e-publishing (or “minor league”) world.

And while, I’ll admit, I find it supremely funny when agents make fun of submissions (because, let’s face it, we’ve all done the same stupid stuff they’re making fun of—actually, I just did one of those things last week and I’m snarky like that too) I’m not sure it’s professional to put it out there in a social networking forum.

Not to mention I really think Twitter is serving book pirates more than anyone else.

Then there are the Yahoo loops, email, on and on it goes—all time sucks. To infinity—except I’ve dropped out of a lot of Yahoo groups because I don’t have the time and I really don’t think they make that big a difference…

…and Yahoo blows. I had to change my email address because of them.

Do the big authors in the literary world ever deal with this? Maybe, maybe not. The biggest ones have their ghost writers, promotional companies, events planners, assistants, etc., so I personally think the jury is out on that one. Of course, maybe they do have time what with writing the same book over and over, just changing the location and names of the characters… (Yeah, I went there and you know you’ve read authors who do exactly that)

But I digress from my original statement that I have a disease. My brain’s apparently tired and I really need my muse to kick in and tell me where to go—in my writing that is. Of course, there’s always the chance I’ve intimidated myself with this super cool outline of what will be an awesome book—if I can just write it…

Sigh. Having multiple books contracted is great, don’t get me wrong, but I’m looking forward to the next few months because I won’t have a book releasing then. Maybe I can finally relax and the words will flow again.

Of course, I’ve never been really productive in the winter months anyway. Stupid groundhog. When is open hunting season for that rodent, anyway?

So, that’s where I am. Stuck in the quicksand and needing someone, anyone, to pull me out and get me going. Hint, hint. Friends, anyone, are you reading this?

I honestly think that being a writer is a bit like being a contestant on Survivor. Outwit, Outlast, Outplay. Is it more a concept of writing the best, writing in a popular, trendy genre, kissing the most butt, talking to the right people, having a better voice, a better publisher, the best idea? Who has the ins and outs of the writing game? The endurance to continue? Who will be the last writer standing?

While we’re on the subject, isn’t it interesting that everyone thinks they can write a book? And what’s even sadder is this dreck sells. Oh, my husband cheated on me with a woman from South America so I divorced him and now I wrote a book. Oh, I’m a quirky former governor who did questionable things and can see foreign countries from my backyard, I think I’ll write a book. Oh, I’m a celebrity who has kids, I think it qualifies me to write children’s books. Oh, I’m married to a popular 1990’s comedian so I think I’ll write a cookbook. I could go on (and so could you I’m sure)

Seriously? I wish I had that kind of luck and not have to work at getting a book published with New York.

Ugh. See, my brain’s working, but that power’s not being funneled to where it needs to be. Suffice it to say, being part of the publishing world is still a mystery and I don’t understand a lot of it, don’t know if I ever will. I just try to keep my head down and write—except it’s not working for me right now LOL

While you’re waiting for me to get my act writing together, let me share this good news with you. This past Monday, I had a new book release. Unraveled Souls is my historical/paranormal book and is near and dear to my heart. Honestly, I think I love writing historical more than any other genre, so add a bit of the paranormal to it and I’m golden.

I hope you’ll consider adding it to your electronic library. It’s one of the best things I’ve written so far.

Blurb: Noelle Radliffe can communicate with ghosts. They haunt her nights and show her dreams of things that haven’t yet occurred. When she has a vision of a dead lion and sees the name of a man, she searches the city to find him only to become sidetracked by an addiction she can’t fight.

Enter Nicholas Pemberton. Although charming and charismatic, he hides a secret, one that is deadly as well as mysterious. He’s a shape shifter and the urge to change into a lion is a battle he constantly wages with himself, second to the recently discovered obsession he feels for Noelle.

As the two fight their mutual attraction to each other, Nicholas attempts to elude the local police force intent on linking recent murders to his name, while Noelle continues to seek peace in her life and to understand her purpose. Their connection is too strong to ignore. As passion ignites, so does the danger. Lives are threatened and destinies collide, but will love be enough to save their souls?

Buy Link: http://tinyurl.com/yhs7jp4

Author website: http://www.sandrasookoo.com

Book video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7K54iCYvt_A

32 comments:

Rebecca Royce said...

Wow, You're having a rough week. Maybe a little meditating??

Sandra Sookoo said...

Don't know about that. I'd probably feel kinda silly and my mind would wander yet again lol

Annie Nicholas said...

*passes Sandi a virtual Valium from her own stock*

I think we're made to believe we have to churn out books like a factory. Is quantity or quality?

Take a breath and step away from it all. Make yourself not write. Even the 9-5ers get a weekend, right? Trying to force it will only make your story sound forced. It will come, it always does.

Suzanne Rock said...

Annie said ~

"I think we're made to believe we have to churn out books like a factory. Is quantity or quality?"

This.

People think that they need to crank out an ebook every month or every other month to be successful. No one can continue writing at that pace indefinately - you burn out. (Not to mention that you have to do all of the business stuff, too.)

You have to give yourself permission not to write. Take some time off to recharge. Don't log into the internet, don't open microsoft word. Leave everything behind for a few days.

I would also add that maybe you should take another look at your story. When I get writers block, 99% of the time it's because the story got off-track. Even plotted stories can derail from time to time. Are you trying to force your characters to do something that aren't in their nature? Is each and every scene adding to the overall story or is it filler? Re-read what you wrote...does the plot direction you're taking make sense?

Finally, as a warm up to your manuscript, try free writing. This is when you open a word document and start writing, not stopping for a good 10 minutes. You have to keep typing with no breaks. Now, you may only write one word over and over, but I find that this someimes frees up the clutter in my mind so I can focus on a story.

Hope that helps!

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Annie

Suzanne--my book hasn't had time to get off track. I'm only midway through chapter 2! LOL I think I need a vacation.

J Hali said...

WHEW! Okay, don't know how much help I can be because I came to this place months ago! I'm doing some writing, but VERY little on promo. I just don't know where it all goes or who sees it?! The choir is huge! I've really cut back and I'm taking more time to write and edit--slowly.

I hope it works out for you.

Barbara said...

Oh, Sandra, I hope you'll believe me when I say I hit this same wall at the end of last year. (Suzanne will confirm this because she had to listen to my freak out!) I was also overwhelmed by the business end of things...blogging, tweeting, promotion etc. and it was completely stealing all my joy in my work.

Guess what realization finally saved me? *Nothing matters but the book* I know we're supposed to be deep in the rat race promoting our little hearts out. I get that there's this whole subculture of blogging and contests and advertising and touring. *But at the end of last year I also realized that I couldn't see the tree for the forest.* And when you're in the midst of creating a fantastic story you not only have to see the tree...you have to feel its bark, breathe in its mossy scent and listen to the wind in its leaves*

The strange thing is that as soon as I put my writing first on my mental list of priorities and reclaimed my joy in what I love the promotion came much easier! I'm only doing slightly less than I was before, but I feel this huge sense of relief.

Celia Yeary said...

SANDRA--if this blog is any indication of your ability to put words on a page, then, sweetheart, you have it made. I don't know why you're beating yourself over the head--you have a universe full of words--all you have to do is pull the right ones out and use them.
Want a suggestion? I don't know how your novels read--maybe I should try one--but if I were you, I'd write in first person, use this same kind of "voice" you've used for this blog, create a snappy heroine and a...some kind of hero, and put them together in one of your worlds. I loved reading this blog! Celia

Sarah Grimm said...

When I hit a wall, which by the way I just broke through the other day, I get all of the helpful hints too. You listed them, go read a book, watch a movie, stop writing for a while and it will come to you...

Guess what? None of that works for me. I have to just keep writing. Sometimes I free write, other times I wind up writing the same drech over and over. Eventually, usually after days of deleting everything I've writtem, the ta-da moment arrives. My brain starts working again and I move forward.

Good luck. I have faith you will discover just the right thing to unstick you.

Oh, and congratulations on the new release. It sounds wonderful!

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Joann. I hope it ends soon

Barbara, thanks for the insight. I think I might just go off the networking sites for awhile. :-) I miss writing. Just don't have the will for it right now.

Celia--thanks for the compliment! It made me smile. I do love writing in the first person and have one book in the first person out with Desert Breeze right now, another will release with TWRP in August. I've always believed blogging is the best way to showcase a writer's voice and I do enjoy it :-)

Thanks!

Nina Pierce said...

I could have written this post ... wait I did. Last month and the month before and late in the summer and ... you get the picture.

My writing had lost its joy. I don't churn out books like so many. I plod along with no direction. When I first started I remember having fun. A giddy thrill when words cam together just the right way and a story unravelled. But somewhere in the quagmire of the insanity that is publishing and promoting--I lost it.

I've decided 2010 is the year I stop worrying about my productivity and just enjoy the thrill of being at the computer and hanging with my characters. It sooooo doesn't mean I'm not having hard days of not finding the words, but I'm a lot more forgiving of myself.

I cut out most of the Yahoo groups and cut waaaaay back on my blogging as well. (I'm not sure it did anything more than find readers who were looking for free books anyway.) I do Twitter, but not for promotion as much as just talking to myself. (Cuz the cats are tired of my voice.)

Anyway, I hope you find your equilibrium again. And know that you're not alone. I'm still looking for some famous person to have an affair with so I can write that instant best seller. Funny, Mr. Nina isn't too keen on that idea though (even if it is for research purposes). *vbg*

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Sarah. I hope this drought or whatever it is ends soon. I've always written. No matter what. Now, nothing.

Nina--thanks for dropping by and for saying I'm not alone. I've dubbed 2010 the Year of No Crap, so I've been steadily cutting out things that don't work or people who are too negative. :-)

StephB said...

Sandra,
I think everyone gets there. And I think it's okay to take a break. Free your mind. Do something else. Shop. Read. Go to the Gym. Take a walk. Do what you need to do to recharge your internal batteries and then you can find you can tackle your writing world. Your book looks really interesting.

Smiles
Steph

Xandra Gregory said...

You're not alone, Sandi. You're not the first or the last to go through this. One of my RWA chapter members (multi-pubbed, very successful) once stood up and said, "If I could tell the chapter only one thing about this business, it'd be 'Promo will eat you alive.'" She was dead on.

Hell, I don't churn 'em out--it took me 3 years to get between one book and the next (part of that is tiny babies don't stay tiny--they start walking and putting things into their mouths and falling down off things, etc.) and I had all the warning signs and I STILL fell in the hole. It's one of those things you have to learn the hard way, I guess.

99% of my writer's blocks are when I've either taken the story in the wrong direction for some reason, or I've maybe plotted it out too far (I'm coming to grips with having to admit that I'm a pantser and no amount of plotting workshops will change that. I just have to pants better and more efficiently). Put the story aside until and unless you can work on it *without* a market in mind.

It's a huge temptation to chase a market, or to write what's "hot" or to write what you think will get you a few more sales from a published book. It can lead you easily astray from where your writing *wants* to take you.

Good luck on blowing past this one. You will. And if what you're doing doesn't work, try something else. There's always something else to try.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Steph. I think alot of the problem is that it's winter. Hard to be inspired stuck at home due to weather all the time.

Xandra--I never chase trends. I always write what I'm interested in or what interests me as a reader. A good lot of the time, it's not what's popular. I'm sure this stint in the doldrums will pass--I hope. Thanks for stopping by!

Gail R. Delaney said...

Hey, Sandra

First, I know you said your hubby thought this was too controversial - personally, I just think it's real. What could be wrong here? It's how you feel, and it's not like you're throwing out personal insults or anything.

Second, honey, we've all been there. :-) After finishing my third book, I couldn't find ANYTHING that held me. I'd get 3 maybe 4 chapters into it, and just... fizzle. The whole concept just felt forced and stupid. Not that I'm recommending THIS, but I basically blew off novel writing for a good year and wrote nothing but fanfiction. Fun, didn't have to think much stuff that at least kept my fingers going. Eventually, I got my mojo back - but to be honest, I stopped looking for awhile.

I don't recommend that, either. But, maybe find some way of getting words out without them being... important? Try writing a journal or just... anything. Write a random scene about people that you don't have to create backstory for - or a happy ending, for that matter.

And chin up... spring WILL come. It does every year, thank the LORD! :-)

Gail

Ashley said...

Hi Sandi!!!!

So I know I am the kid of the group since none of my stuff will be out till May, but I feel ya.

I started writing that shifter story I asked you questions on and well I hit a wall, couldn't go forward, couldn't go backward, so I put it up in my mind shelf and started something new. FYI I have about 4 or 5 in that shelf right now LOL!!!!

Anyway I fell in love with a publishers open call and in less then 2 days have over 6000 words written. I know not a lot to many, but for me its like writing 20,000 or so. I ran my story through my brother, who besides my mom and my better half is my biggest champion and he about pee'd himself reading it he laughed so hard.

I think sometimes we just need to step back look at it and say not right now and work something else out. I know from the mouth of a babe...newbie, whatever. But it has helped me.

I don't yahoo much unless we have promo time and I don't blog much either right now because I want to write. Maybe when I slow down a little I will go back, but I am having so much fun with my characters.

You know we are here for you, no matter what. Oh and what part of your blog was your husband worried about??? I see nothing wrong with it. I find it refreshingly honest and oh look I can see Russia from my back door LOL!!!! CLASSIC!!!

All my love!
Ash!

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Gail. :-) I can't give it up LOL My brain just needs a reset. And no more snow!! Sadly, we've got another storm heading in for the weekend. Death by Snow. Dang I wish I could write mysteries. I'd love to use a huge icicle as the murder weapon. It'd melt away...

Anyway, still hoping the writing comes back soon. And yeah, that's what I thought about the post. It's how I feel. :-)

Sandra Sookoo said...

LMAO Thanks Ash! I'm glad you found the humor in it. I think alot of people are :-)

If things don't change, I might try and write another short. I know I'm good at those :-) Heck, if I write about myself--again--I'll have a great story :-)

mymargee said...

A friend of mine gave me some extreme advice when it came to writer's block. He said the best thing to do was to go back to the point just before the point the block happen and delete everything after that point leaving the time when things were running smoothly.

His theory was that most blocks happen when the author tries to control the story instead of letting the characters and situations work themselves out.

As scary as it was to do (I save a copy, just in case)it did work for me.

Margie

Rebecca Royce said...

Wow Sandi. You really made an impression here today. Good for you!

Sandra Sookoo said...

Margie, that's an interesting theory. I was actually discussing this very thing with my hubby at lunch today before I'd even read your post. :-)

Rebecca--I always make a statement :-) lol

RKCharron said...

Hi Sandra!
I loved your from-the-heart post.
So many great comments here too.
What do you find that inspires you to write? When I get "blocked" I find poetry, and great art, and even re-reading a wonderful book, recharges me.
Rob

Sandy said...

Sandi,

You wrote a great blog today. I think every author eventually deals with this problem.

I have a friend who has over a hundred books out, and one week she spent the whole time in bed flipping her channels on the TV. lol She got over it mainly because she had a deadline. Smile.

Maybe, talking to your editor would help.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Sandy thanks! I did talk to my editor earlier this week :-) Great conversation. Didn't have any bearing on the writing issue though LOL

Thank RK.

Angela Nichelle said...

Hi, Sandi,

Thanks for making me laugh tonight...not at your writer's block but at the issues we face as writers. Your blog post was honest and dead on.

All I can say is when the block is gone...look out world! Here come three or four more Sookoo books in rapid fire! Congratulations on your latest release too. ;-)

Hugs,
Ang

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Angela! These are things no one tells you about in the pre-published days LOL I'm glad I made you laugh and thanks for having so much faith in me and my writing :-)

Kameko said...

Sandra,

I'm not a writer, just a lover of books for as long as I've been able to read. I have to admit I never thought about what is involved in getting a book written until this past year when I started connecting with writers on Facebook and through their blogs. While I admired all of you before for your ability to write, I now realize that you do this amazing writing while also doing the "normal" day to day things I do! Why I never thought of this before, who knows. Is it any wonder your brain has gone on strike? Mine would have vacated the property a long time ago if I tried to do what you have accomplished! As to anyone taking offense to anything said in your blog, in my opinion, if they do, who cares? You only spoke what is true & it is your blog! I am new to your writing and currently reading my first book of yours and am thoroughly loving it. I will be reading more, no doubt about it.

Beverly

Sandra Sookoo said...

OMG, thank you so much for dropping by, Beverly, and for your kind words! You made me smile :-) Yes, it's a busy life a writer leads, but really, I doubt any of us would trade it.

I'm so glad you're reading one of my books and I hope you'll continue to enjoy it and pick up others :-)

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Sandi,

Honey, been there, done that, and smashed some china. Seriously. It got me through!

At the time I was like you, had no clue what was going on. My mentor told me it in 2 wimple words - burn out.

It happens to everyone, girl. And sorry to be a rainy parade here but writer's block is part and parcel of a writer's life. But one word we miss in there is - LIFE! It isn't just about writing. We're simply not wired for just that! And after the storm you wrote up last year, you of all people are entitled to a break!

Take a break! Don't worry about it not coming (even if that sounds insane!). Clear your brain and only then will you be able to breathe and find the peace of mind to be refreshed. I'm actually on a deadline to finish a novel. Got 2 more weeks to go, and like 4 chapters to finish it. The plan was to work a chapter a day in February, this way I'd have it editted by March 1 and sent off. I wrote 25K in 36 hours on a weekend, was like great this is sooo flowing. Then bam! Since that weekend, of Feb 1 actually, I've written just 5K on the story. i simply couldn't go on. Outline was there but how to actually make it all happen? So I took a break. I put the story aside, despite the deadline yeah, and after a week of not mulling over it, the block just lifted and I just saw how it had to happen! Granted, I've 'seen' just how 2 of those 4 chapters will turn out, but it's still an unblock. And now I'm not rushing to write it!

It's not a race, darling! Time exists for a reason and we cannot force things!

As for promo, lol. One chat and I'm wiped for like 2 days! All I'll wanna do then is watch The Young and The Restless! Yes, chats and promo is tiring. As for Twitter, it's a presence. Don't expect it to be more. It's like talking to yourself about yourself, which is basically what a blog is too! The fact is, readers want to see authors as humans, and that's a double-etched sword you'll say, but they need this connection too. Find your happy medium, and don't expect too much from it. Just give it your best and what will come will come, you know?

Hang tight, and for goodness' sake, take a break!! We need you!

Big big hugs

Dana Fredsti said...

Sandra, saw the link on Trinity's Yahoo group and am glad I stopped by.

I've been where you are, vapor lock/brain-freeze, and what works for one person doesn't always work for another. I agree that the pace that e-book writers have to keep up sometimes is...well...ridiculous. I can't do it, I work full time, have multiple felines and a boyfriend (all of whom need attention), and have a multiple book contract with deadlines that are... out of date, to put it mildly.

Can you take a week off of writing completely? Off of blogs, networking, everything? I think everyone reaches burnout at some point... even those who haven't run into it before.

Good luck and great post! And not too snarky at all, btw.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Z. :-) Sooner or later, I'll be right as rain :-)

Dana--thanks for coming by. I'm going to limit alot of stuff soon. :-) I appreciate you stopping in.