Karolyn Sherwood, Author

Writing Is Like Dieting

Most people—okay, everyone hates dieting; they just want to be fit. Similarly, many writers hate writing; they just want to “have written” something. I’ve often thought we should change the word “diet” to something without the negative connotation it brings. Like T-I-D-E. Just rearrange the letters. We could say, “I’m on a healthy tide.” Better, yes? Or this: E-D-I-T. Change the letters again, and we could say, “I’m editing my food intake.” Still better than saying, “I’m dieting.” If we edit our food intake, and edit our writing, it’s easy to see a connection.

Taking this one step further … If a person, say me, for example, gets a little lax in monitoring her food intake, and at the same time gets a little lax on the exercise front, soon she will start feeling a bit blubbery discouraged. I need to snap my priorities back in line. Similarly, if I take days (okay, weeks) off of writing, I start feeling like a failure discouraged. The trick again is to snap my writing priorities back in line, too. Just never, never, never give up, as the wise Winston Churchill once said. I’ve had that magnet above my desk for years. It’s one of my mottos. Another favorite is from George Eliot: It is never too late to be what you might have been.

IMG_2709Speaking of George Eliot, and my lack of productivity of late … I have a new writing coach: Her name is also George Eliot (I call her Georgie). As soon as she’s done being a puppy, she will anchor me at home, at my computer. She has also motivated me to read Middlemarch, the original George Eliot’s best and arguably THE best English novel of all times. It’s one of those novels I would have read if only I’d been an English major. But it’s never too late …

There’s one more reason I’ve been in writing limbo lately, and it too shall soon be corrected. My “fourth debut novel,” A Reasonable Price, has been out to lit agents for the past several months. I’ve had seventeen (!) requests for the manuscript. I’ve also had nearly that many passes. However, the last rejection letter I received mentioned a key point as to why agents are likely passing: religion. My protagonist is very religious; my antagonist is a doctor who’s playing God. You see the conflict. It makes for a very intense battle! It also possibly makes the novel too explosive for a publisher to buy it. So, because I am not championing a Catholic perspective, it’s time for another E-D-I-T.

Ten days from now I’ll be participating in an Iowa Summer Writing Festival workshop. As soon as I get my feedback from the wise and recently published Julia Fierro and my fellow classmates, I will do a rewrite and send it out to more lit agents.

How about you? Have you gotten off track of any of your goals? Hey, summer happens! We’ve given ourselves a break. Now we need to refocus. Just remember this: Never, never, never give up.

 

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