Stoking It

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In 3 weeks — at 9:00 am, in Room 101 of the Western New England MFA Annex — I’ll be sitting behind a table at AWP, talking about persistence.

I’m on a panel with our very own Joe Ponepinto, Kobbie Alamo, and Q. Lindsey Barrett, and we will discuss what it takes to keep writing when ….

*  you still haven’t gotten that one, two or three book deal you thought you’d have by now

*  you’re collecting enough rejection slips to wallpaper all of Brooklyn

*  post-MFA “now what?” and “where did everybody go?” depression has set in

*  you’re still waiting for that call from The New Yorker or Granta or Tin House

*  you can’t no-way-no-how spend a month at MacDowell or Yaddo or any of those great writing sleep-away camps in the sky

*  your dream agents won’t request even one chapter of your manuscript or, worse, they request the one chapter and disappear into the ethernet

*  the 1st draft of your book is on its 23rd draft with more rewrites in sight

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How do you maintain your passion for writing?

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21 thoughts on “Stoking It

  1. tdapra

    Teri, congrats! I didn’t know you were presenting at AWP. I wish I were going, but alas, I’ve decided against. Too many other irons and all that. But I will certainly go next year when it’s in Minneapolis.

    Persistence is certainly not my strength, so I look forward to hearing what others have to say, but for me there’s something about getting other things in my life in order before I have the time and space to dedicate to writing.

    1. Teri Post author

      My sickness is organization. I always feel like I need to be organized before I start anything, which includes writing. It’s hard to get over that, to just sit down amidst the bills that need paying and dogs who need walking and endless laundry, to say, “It doesn’t matter. I’m writing now.”

      So much easier said than done.

      Today I’m writing with a clean desk, but it took me all day yesterday to get everything clean enough to sit down. This is SO NOT PRODUCTIVE. It doesn’t matter than I’m writing today; it matters that I could have written twice as much if I could leave dishes in the sink.

  2. Catherine

    Passion? For me it helps to connect with other writers in the same boat! Every so often I need to step out of the box and just blahblah. It can be so hard and so isolated. But there’s no point in saying that’s enough either. You need results, praise, encouragement..

    1. Teri Post author

      There are those people who write to be writing and don’t seem all that concerned about readers or publishers. I am not one of those people. I don’t write because I need to; I write because I want to enter the conversation —- and this means I need readers and publication and feedback.

      I can only sit alone at this desk all day if I feel there’s an end game.

      1. Teri Post author

        I started blogging so I’d have a place to write stuff that had nothing to do with my book. I figured if the writing was public, I’d feel like I had to write better than diary-type entries, that it would be like a writing exercise.

        Now? I write exclusively to chat with you people.

      2. MSB

        You nailed it, right there. “I write because I want to enter the conversation.”
        Thank you for putting my feelings into words. I will carry around this simple explanation forever.

        I tend to react more than act. My passion is fueled by what I see, overhear, even smell. It’s a way of making sense of what is affecting me.

        The talk you’re hosting sounds amazing (there I go, using that word again!). If there’s anyone who can give it, it’s you. And what a beautiful picture. At first glance I thought it was a violin case but now I’m thinking guitar.

      3. Averil Dean

        I write to enter the conversation, too. But right now I don’t feel part of it at all. It seems at the moment like I’ve said too much, like I need to spend some time being quiet and standing back to listen.

      4. Teri Post author

        Reading Dani Shapiro’s book about writing vs. publishing. That feeling of exposure that makes a writer want to hole-up again and pretend you haven’t published a thing.

  3. Josey

    Of all the things I will miss about not being at AWP, this session tops the list by far.

    I don’t know that I do maintain a passion for it. I just feel like it’s part of me. Like, I have green eyes, and I’m a mom. and I write. Reading helps.

    Right now, I feel more in touch with what doesn’t help. COLD WEATHER. Constant stream of snow days and school delays, fuckin’ up my schedule. Wanting to do nothing but hibernate on the couch will all the lights out and the soft glow of the TV.

    1. Teri Post author

      How you guys are surviving all of these snow days and being stuck at home with kids who should be in school …. oh my. It’s too much, just too much. How can you think, much less write?

      If I didn’t watch TV, I wonder how many books I could write. Latest favorites: scary damned thrillers. THE FALL, only 5 episodes, on Netflix; TRUE DETECTIVE, which is totally freaking me out.

  4. Lyra

    Holy crap, Teri! Look at you! Congratulations, dear friend. Please post your notes on it for those of us who couldn’t be there.

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