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Living with suspense . . .

A lot of writers specialize in writing suspenseful novels in which you are kept on the edge of your seat for hours at a time.  Other writers specialize in more placid fare.  All writers live in suspense.  Unlike the free choices you have when choosing a genre, when you’re a working writer, suspense is not optional.

Sometimes it’s self-induced, as in how much do I have to know about how the secret service works for my new WIP, or how much do I have to know about Gloucestershire (aside from knowing how to say it) in Regency times to make a convincing world of it?  Obviously you can go on researching forever (and some do) but when you have a deadline tugging at your shirt tail, you have to remember there’s a difference between a dissertation and a novel.  But where the line lies can be downright suspenseful, especially when you know if you’ve guessed on the low side, you may be trying to find facts in a desperate hurry, either because of your schedule or someone else’s.

It’s later, though, when writing really stretches you on the rack.  Writing, waiting, and wondering are the inseparable three.  Before you’re published, it’s deciding who to pitch to, picking out of all of the available advice on how to pitch, spending the last minutes before an in-person pitch, or the agonizing pause just before you hit the send button.  Suspense then?  Oh, you got it.

Being published simply raises the stakes.  Are they going to like your new brilliant idea?  Will they accept your revisions? When will they schedule the release?  Even more to the point, will they offer a contract for another book, or (oh, may destiny be kind) books?  And are they the right publisher for you in the first place?  Although this is territory I have not traversed myself, I understand from those who have that present success does not guarantee future security.  No, we all go on, teetering on the narrow edge between making it gloriously and facing dismal failure — or any points in between.

And the cliff hangers go on and on.  Even after many years of writing, suspense lingers.  Will my wonderful plot go all to pieces somewhere around chapter 5?  Will someone else publish my brilliant idea just as I’m getting ready to sell it, thus proving the existence of the collective unconscious?  Will I suddenly, horribly, stall in the middle of this WIP and not be able to write another word?

Isn’t it all fun?  And like little lemmings, we go on doing it, day after day, month after month, year after year.  Once you’ve taken the leap over the cliff and admitted that writing is important to you, you’re stuck like the rest of us, staring into the jaws of disaster and hoping to write your way to the glorious peak of best-sellerdom.

Are we having fun yet?

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5 Responses

  1. Fun?

    Somedays…Hell yeah!

    Then, other days…Hell no.

    Depends on the day!

  2. oh my. somedays I think I missed the fun train. …there are some that are just rocking out awesome.

  3. Oh, wow! Did you nail this or what! LOL We have to love this writing stuff or we’d just be crazy. 🙂

  4. Oh, yeah. You nailed it, Bep. It is pins and needles suspenseful.

    Like I subbed a proposal and tomorrw my editor is going to call me about it. Gulp. I’m feeling like it might not be good news. So, tomorrow may be a sucky Friday.

    Yep, it’s up and down in the publishing world and we’re always held in suspense, aren’t we?

  5. Hanging my head in shame — I’m out west and had a dreadful flight to get here. Weds. night I got to Denver without much trouble but on arriving discovered my connecting flight was not leaving at 9:35 p.m. as scheduled (which meant I would arrive at 11 p.m., which was not exactly convenient, but my cousin loves me enough to come meet me anyway). Instead it was leaving at 11:45, which meant that I got there at 1:30, and after chatting some went to bed just before 3, which with the time change was 5 a.m. for me, which was just about when I’d gotten up morning before after 3 hours of sleep preparing for giving finals at the college and getting ready to leave. Thursday, instead of responding to your nice comments, I was totally spaced out.

    Anyhow, after a full night’s sleep, life seems much better. And I’m ready to resume life in the real world. I knew I could plan ahead to write the blog — unfortunately it’s hard to plan ahead to reply to what you nice folks had to say!

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