Friday, May 15, 2009

A Week on the Oregon Coast

My trip to Oregon was well worthwhile. It was focused more on the business side of writing than the creative side, but being in a different place and spending ten days working intensely with other writers was stimulating on all sides.

I got in two walks on the beach. On the second, walking with three others from the workshop, we encountered this newborn seal pup that had come ashore to rest. What an amazing sight! The pup got rolled around and pushed farther up the beach by the surf. After a while it started crawling up the beach on its own, and paused to cry now and then. That was heartbreaking, but we knew its mother was nearby in the water, watching, and that the pup would be all right.

Sometimes the business of writing makes me feel a lot like that pup. You finish a novel, and you have to try to find a home for it. Suddenly you're in deep water, flailing around with no idea where to go. You get pushed around by forces beyond your control. Editors and agents are extremely busy people, and you have to try to get their attention for your baby. And the sea is very, very big.

Having a group of other writers to talk with is a huge boon when you're in this kind of situation. Whether it's a critique group or a network of friends, they can help you examine your options, and remind you that every writer goes through such times. Yes, it's scary sending your work to someone you don't know, asking them to give you money for it, especially when you have a lot of effort and emotion invested in it. Unless you're writing purely for your own pleasure, though, this is a necessary part of the job.

6 comments:

Anton Gully said...

To be fair, if you fail to find a home for your novel it doesn't usually involve drowning or starvation. Or shark attacks! ;-)

KylieQ said...

Thanks, Pati, this is a nice post. Gorgeous picture!

Pati Nagle said...

Anton - True, but sometimes a writer can feel like s/he's been attacked by sharks! And starvation...well, that depends on how well you've planned financially.

Kylie - Thanks!

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