Monday, January 28, 2008

Choices

Posted by Lisa Marnell


Recently I was offered an opportunity to do something fun two mornings during the week. These hours are set aside for writing, most days, but oh, was I tempted!

I’ll give you a moment to speculate just what that “fun” thing may be…



...
I wanted to say “yes!” Instead, I sighed, “Thanks, but I can’t.”

I made the right choice, I know. In a way it was disappointing, but it also filled me with pride: it was a re-commitment to getting a strong manuscript out in the world. If I don’t spend that time writing, then when will I write? I’ve worked too hard, too long, on my fiction; I have two YA manuscripts that are close to being done.

If I take on too much, other parts of my life will suffer. I love a neat and clean house - when will I tidy or empty the dishwasher? I love a happy dog by my feet - Maggie will be depressed if I'm gone having such fun without her. If I had accepted that offer, would I even have enjoyed it? No, I wouldn’t have. I know that. Too much on one’s plate leads to lots of messy leftovers. I’ll have a simple dish, finish my dinner, and leave the kitchen clean.

Last week, I interviewed Jay Asher, author of the recently released and wildly successful YA novel, 13 Reasons Why. Though I plan to post that interview soon, I’ve spent time reflecting on our conversation.

Jay loves to brainstorm. For him, that part of writing is wholly engaging; he spends a long time thinking before he starts to write. He's been writing twelve years; he mainly did humor - his dark and edgy first book published is certainly a switch. He's been working in a writer's group for years. It takes time. It takes comittment...

So I'll make do with hockey and tennis once weekly. My main characters will thank me; I want them to be published and to see the world beyond my study. And when I'm done, I can see more of the world, too.

7 comments:

kristen said...

A difficult choice, but good for you--recognizing our limits (or what our limits should be) is not an easy thing. I need to do this too, more often and with a stronger commitment to me and my goals. Thanks for the reminder.

Lisa said...

Tim Hallinan left a wise comment on my blog recently that I hope will stick with me when I'm making decisions about what to do with my time. The way he sees it, you can only do three things with your time. You can waste it, you can spend it or you can invest it. It sounds like you've made the decision to invest yours.

Larramie said...

Except you are having fun, Lisa, by working at what you love.

Trish Ryan said...

Good for you! And yes, your main characters will thank you--they're way more ornery than the dog when ignored :)

Lisa Marnell said...

Kristin, recognizing our limits IS hard. Perhaps it's like drinking too much coffee: when your hand starts shaking it's time to put that mug down and back away.

Lisa, I like that thinking. Without an investment, we're wasting time aren't we? And writing is fun, isn't it Larramie? For writers who attain success, it has to be fun. Even the best book deals work out to little more than an average salary I would imagine.

Trish, you know my characters and you know my dog. Rose, my MC grew up in the school of hard knocks and might tell me I'm more than a jerk if I ignore her. And Maggie, that lovely half-lab half-dalmation who's always in a good mood wold forgive me in a heart beat!

Mardougrrl said...

I also like the thinking about "investing" your time instead of "wasting" it.

That being said, I am sorry you had to give up something fun--which can be difficult to find. I know your writing will pay you back...in spades!

And I've tried to respond to your email (thank you!) a few times but it keeps bouncing back to me. Thanks for the book recommendation. I've also heard good thing (plotting wise) about a book called "Building Better Plots" by Robert Kernan. I just bought it and will you let you know if it's plot and life-changing. :)

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