Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Writers are the craziest peoples!

I would like to present a hypothesis today that we are crazy (at least in part) due to lack of definition in our field. IE- it's not completely our fault :).

For today’s demonstration I will present two scenarios with similar goals:
Graduate student (with thesis as the final “product”) and Fiction writer (with agent/editor/published book as final product)

We’ll start with the graduate student (Example is for a Psychology program- so don’t go jumping in my face that yours was different- work with me!)

Step one: GRE- ok for folks who haven’t experienced this little monster of modern day horror, count yourself lucky. This test is designed to measure skills you supposedly learned in your undergraduate studies (right ;)). It’s a messy test with no real validity (in terms of predicating success in graduate school) but it’s required for most programs. Point is- it makes it more difficult to get in (in theory ;))

Step two: You are accepted into the program. You engage in structured seminars that are aimed at creating, proposing, and defending your thesis. There are paid professionals there to guide you.

Step three: You design, propose, conduct (or research), and defend your thesis. Again, paid professionals send you back to the drawing board with concrete examples of what didn’t work. Repeatedly.

Step four: Thesis is successfully defended and goes on to live happily in the campus library (or submitted to an academic journal, but we won’t go there ;).

Step five: The graduate student graduates and much celebrating is heard throughout the land.

Step one: No test, no criteria, no nothing. You string words together, anyone can do it.

Step two: You flounder about, trying to find out the “rules”…find out there are three but no one can agree what they are. You go crazy re-editing your work every time it comes back from a contest or critique group…

Step three: You finish book, you send out queries and get form letter responses- when you get a response.

Step four: You repeat step three. Maybe moving up to “thanks but no thanks” letters with your name. Still not sure what you’re doing wrong.

Step five: You either start digging your way through the junk, to find ways of getting and understanding feedback. Through trial and error you find helpful writing resources and groups. You contemplate going Indie and all the hard work and funds that entails.  Or you give up.

Step six: You keep at it, what choice do you have?

The sad thing is, and the part that makes us crazy- is path two sounds better ;)

So what do you all think? Are we crazy? Or just devilishly clever?


  1. I'm not crazy. I'm eccentric with goals which fall outside the norm. The voices in my head are under my control. Mostly. I've never been to graduate school other than the one of hard knocks. Cuts, bruises, and scars to prove it because you don't get a diploma there. Sometimes I feel I'm floundering in a sea of conflicting rules. Perhaps if I found Britannia, I could rule the waves.
    I believe that hope is the reason that we write. Hope that we'll find the right plot for our unique but likeable protagonist that will have a kick butt ending that no one saw coming but that is perfectly logical. Hope that when we send it out agents will beat down our doors to get us to sign with them. Publishing houses will wage bidding wars the likes of which have never been seen before. Robert Redford, or Ron Howard, or JJ Abrams will fight to get the movie rights and directing jobs. Theatres will be circled by lines waiting to see our story on the silver screen.

    I can dream, can't I? I think writing is dreaming with words. Everyone should have a dream.

    1. LOL- I think you are crazy, Sharon, but it's a GOOD crazy! I agree on the hope- the biggest of all is that we'll be able to share our worlds and characters with others and they'll like them!

      Thanks for coming by and commenting- I'm trapped at evil day job, so can't get on blogger- Marie

  2. Hahaha. Funny thing about the crazy--when I first started writing, I was talking to a colleague at the day job about it, and he said something along this lines of "Yeah, I was really into writing for a while. Then I got writer's block and would sit in front of the computer staring at the blank screen for hours. I finally had to quit writing and go into therapy." I nodded and made sympathetic noises, as I thought smugly that nothing like that would happen to me. And, okay, the writer's block thing hasn't happened. But I do feel like you have to be a bit crazy to keep going in this crazy industry.

    1. Very true, Shoshana! We do have to be a bit crazy to keep doing what we do. And it does say alot about your colleague going into therapy! I've often thought there should be a sub-set of psychology for writers ;).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting- I'm trapped at evil day job, so can't get on blogger- Marie

  3. Both. Actually, I would be crazy if I didn't write. I have to do something with the characters in my head. :)

    1. I think I agree, Lori. We write because we're crazy, but I know I'd be a lot more worse off if I didn't write! Besides, our heads can only hold so much ;).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  4. My take on this article. Great article, by the way.
    My take as a person who's been through both, graduate school in engineering and fiction "school" in sci-fi romance, is that the thing that looks screwy is our creativity. My journal article referenced around the world at first was looked upon as "out there," having nothing to do with reality. The same can be said for my nonformulaic sci-fi romances. Today, I'm told, it takes years for the general reading public to catch on. I think it's that creative thing that no matter what we do, we just can't stop dreaming.

    Wonderful that anyone has the patience to set their words down.

    Hurray, us!

  5. Path 2 sounds better because we get to keep doing what we love--writing. Once you've gotten that degree finished, what else is there to do?