Friday, February 24, 2012

A 3am At 6am

This was my Sunday morning tweet (soooo long that I had to go through tweetlonger):

"I was up until 6am reading ' Incarnate, to get through the masquerade scene. And then I lay in bed, wondering how I could POSSIBLY ever write anything when books like this and Die For Me and Dearly, Departed and so many others are so amazing beyond belief. I feel like Ana with music(esp Dossam's music...) and how she doesn't feel good enough around so much genius! #LeSigh"

Three a.m.s, those bleak, hellish moments of self-doubt, are a part of life.  Especially if you want to be a writer because so much of what you do hinges on the opinion of others...  There's nothing like laying in bed in the middle of the night after a long day of writer's block or empty inboxes, knowing:

"...she knew that there would be days when she would feel desparingly that she could not write and that it was of no use to try; days when the editorial phrase 'not necessarily a reflection on its merits,' would get on her nerves to such an extent that she would feel like imitating Marie Bashkirtseff and hurling the taunting, ticking, remorseless sitting room clock out the window; days when everything she'd done or would try to do would slump-- become mediocre and despicable; days when she would be tempted to bitter disbelief in her fundamental conviction that there was as much truth in the poetry of life as in the prose; days when the echo of that 'random word' of the gods, for which she so avidly listened, would only seem to taunt her with its suggestions of unattainable perfection and loveliness beyond the reach of mortal ear or pen." -L. M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

And what else could send me over the edge of the great self-doubt pit but something incredibly beautiful, like this:

"He played my notes again, but instead of stopping after, he played the most amazing thing my ears had ever heard. Like waves on a lakeshore, and wind through trees. There were lightning strikes, thunder, and pattering rain. Heat and anger, and honey sweetness.

I'd never heard this music before. There seemed no room to breathe around my swollen heart as the music grew, made me ache inside.

It went on forever, and not long enough. Then my four notes came again, slow like before. I struggled to breathe as the sound echoed against my thoughts. And quiet blanketed the parlor." - Jodi Meadows, Incarnate


I love prose.  I love words and how they can magically string together to capture thoughts and feelings and pictures.  At the SCBWI roundtables, I just kept getting lost in the music of some of the 500 words samples that my fellow roundtable-ites were reading aloud (and I think everyone was starting to get tired of my "Oooooh, I LOVED this one line of yours.  SOOO PRETTY!" over and over again with the different reads.) 

Now, combine the ladies at the roundtables with some of my favorite authors.  All of these women write beautifully about topics ranging from history to revolutions and imprisonment.  They talk about love and death and life.  The paranormal in their stories (where applicable) have fantastic and creative premises.

Me, I write about cute boys and magic.  And sometimes cute magical boys. 


I could feel my heart breaking (in a good way) over the sentences in Incarnate.  Until I Die had me squealing in delight over Amy Plum's storyline and how her descriptions had become even more beautiful since her first book.  Dearly, Departed made me want to keep reading the book forever.  Those books were written by amazing authors.  And at that hour, I felt like a poseur, trying to break into the same profession.

"I could feel the tension in his arms and chest, trying to hold me, trying not to break me. I wanted to say something, reassure him that I trusted him, but if I spoke, the moment might shatter."- Jodi Meadows, Incarnate

But the sun always comes up in the morning, pushing back those cobwebs of fear. Doubt doesn't do too well in the daytime. (Not to mention, Jodi, Amy, and Lia have sequels a 'comin. They may break my heart, but I love them anyway.)

I  always have to remind myself that everyone's been there.  Everyone has had their own personal three a.m.s (or six a.m.s) filled with questioning and maybe even a tinge of despair.  I'm not going to write like Jodi Meadows or Amy Plum or Lia Habel or LM Montgomery-- I'm going to write like me.  I can't change who I am as a writer, I can only learn and grow.  And even if I never publish, I still have these MSs that are all mine, my babies filled with castles and sugar sand and cute magical boys.  Life is too short not to try and breathe life into these stories.

Thank you, authors and editors and agents for making me question myself while still inspiring me.  You are the reason why I stay up all night for just. one. more. chapter.

That same morning, I had a burst of creativity and productivity on my MG WIP (no cute boys, but plenty of magic!) Autumn and TRC seem to love my self-doubt!

Bloggy people-- how do you get past your 3ams?


  1. I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I come across a certain line or a certain moment in the text and it's just so GOOD and I can't remember why I'm even trying. But it forces me to dig deep, find the big reasons why I write, and throw myself into the work with even more passion.

    And it does help when the sun comes out. :)

    1. "find the big reasons why I write" <---- Yes! That's exactly what keeps me going, even if my stories aren't revolutionary or life-changing :)

  2. This is exactly how I felt during/after reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. That book had so many sentences that I would actually stop and read over again just enjoy them for a second time. Her writing is beautifully descriptive without being purple and I loved every moment of it. I dubbed Daughter... 'The Book That Launched a Thousand Doubts'. Doubts that I'd ever be able to write anything even a fraction as good. I kind of feel the same way about Stephanie Perkins' Anna and Lola books. She makes it look easy (though I doubt it is). I guess I just keep telling myself that there are all different kinds of books and (most of the time) no two books are alike, each unique and interesting in its own way. And that's how I keep plugging away at my stories, despite the self-doubt. :-)

    1. *sigh* (Issy adds another book to her TBR list...)

      And I completely agree about Stephanie Perkins. Delving into contemporary-- by sheer inspiration rather than by choice-- is so much scarier after reading her books!

  3. Follow some of the great authors of the past and just take a shot of whiskey! :)