Seeing forests among the trees

There’s a saying from the Bible that a prophet is without honor in his own country. I’ve decided there’s a parallel saying in writing: A writer is without honor in his own mind.

Okay, there probably are writers who think that everything they write fell straight from the muse and heaven itself, but I doubt most of us are in this category. Most of us have a hard time convincing ourselves that what we write isn’t better suited for tilling into our gardens as fertilizer.

I’m working on a novel at the moment that is proving to be the hardest thing I’ve ever written.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been tempted to quit I could retire from my job and become a full-time writer.

But one of the worst blows came a few days ago while I was transferring files between laptops and came across a portion of the last novel I wrote. The characters’ voices were distinctive, the description was pretty good, there was depth to the characters and to the world I was writing in–it was fairly good stuff, actually. Much better than the rubbish I’m cranking out right now. I wanted to give up and go work on that novel again.

But then I remembered that I used to think that previous novel was fit only as digital birdcage liner.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are legitimate reasons for giving up on–or at least setting aside for a time–a writing project. But don’t give up just because you’re too close to what you’re writing right now to be objective. Of course your current work isn’t exciting. You’ve been in that world for a long time now. It’s not interesting any more. Writing it is work.

But just remind yourself that someday this will be the interesting book you’d forgotten was so good, and something else will be the pile of doody you really want to just give up on and go write something fun.

Soldier on. Writing is work, and work is…well, a four-letter word. But then so is “book”, and so is “done”, and even “cash”, “fame”, and “fans”.

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom is a Utah transplant, works for a regional bank, and spends his lunch hours working on his latest novel. His wife, three kids, and four pets find him amusing and somewhat useful, so they keep him around.