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The Quill Blog

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Writing is Ruthless, and Autumn Love

Autumn colors have arrived, dear, reader, and with it, the start of my "official" writing season. I write all year, but October-May are the months I really delve into the work. Something about the cold air and cozy fires puts me in a better #writing frame of mind.

As a young girl, I wrote poems and short stories, and always looked forward to writing assignments in school. In jr. high school, two friends and I would write short, short stories about boys we had crushes on, silly events, and fantasies. We would then swap and read them aloud. I still have these little gems tucked away in a scrapbook. From there, I wrote longer poems and novels, though few of them ever reached the point where I could share them with others.

It wasn't until after high school that I began putting more effort into my stories. I don't recall the moment when I decided I wanted to share my writings with people outside my family and a small circle of kindred friends. I fought back this desire to share for many years until one day I could no longer hold back.

Everything happened quickly: finishing the novels, working with an editor, figuring out cover design, and the insanity of book marketing.

I did it! I published my first books. Readers liked the stories and wanted more, and I wanted to please the readers . . . Then something strange happened. I discovered that writing is hard work.

I don't write for the hope of fame or for the money. I don't write with the expectation that I'll be the next Hemingway or any one of my favorite authors. I don't want that.

But I didn't expect it to be so ruthless.

Let me tell you a story.

There's a darling shop I've been frequenting for many years. I stop in every few months to search for an antique or something else delightful I can't seem to live without. They have a replica rifle from the 1880s that I may go back for soon. Anyway, while in there this week, I thought back to when I was visiting with one of the owners. She somehow found out I wrote books (I keep quiet about that around my favorite haunts.) and started telling me about how her daughter wanted to write. I told her that was great and asked her to tell her daughter "good luck" for me.

Then it happened. She said words I hate to hear. "It's easy writing a book isn't it?" This question is right up there with, "Where do you get your ideas?" To her, I smiled and told her, "No, it's really not that easy."

Yes, for some authors, sitting down and writing a story in a month or two is easy. If the author is a fast writer and that's all they really do, then it can be easier for them than for others. But mostly, no, writing is not easy.

It's brutal. It's humbling. It makes many of us want to pull out our hair, smash our computers to smithereens, and crawl into a dark hole until the feeling of mind-numbing terror passes.

When the fear and doubt slowly leave, writing is the best job ever. The idea of a tortured artist is very real, though we often do it to ourselves. I'm sitting here with my cup of tea, a few squares of dark chocolate, and a candle burning with the lights dimmed. I have the window cracked so I can listen to the blustery wind.

There's a pie in the oven that I'll enjoy for dessert this evening. It's been a good day. I decided to write out this blog post while I'm relaxed. Today, the doubt and soul-crushing fear has decided to leave me alone so I can write in peace. That happens, and when it does, writing really is the best job ever.

That is, when it's not an unforgiving pit of uncertainty. No, writing is not easy. When done properly, it tears us up and burrows deep until it releases all our warm, gooey insides. Good or bad, those emotions boil up even as we try to temper them. Except, it's those mushy feelings that make the writing so great. My best writing sessions leave me exhausted. When I walk away from the story completely spent, I know it was a great day. If not, then I know something isn't quite right and I begin to fret. That's when the brutal cycle begins again. 

This is where the brooding rears it's unwelcome head.

No, it's not easy. It is fun, rewarding, and so exciting when the words flow with ease, but I've come to accept the necessity for balance. Were it always easy, then the challenge would be gone and I may not want to write again.

So the next time you think writing is easy for the writer . . . well, don't think it. We like to talk about all the triumphs rather than focus on the failures, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of the latter. Talking about the good is how we get by and get back to writing the stories we love to share.

Until next time, dear reader!

~MK McClintock

And you thought I forgot about the "Autumn Love" part of the title. I do love the autumn season. When October rolls around, I'm as giddy as a wild horse racing across the prairie. Whether I'm in New England watching the early color change, in Glacier National Park when I feel as though I have the park to myself, or when I'm in the mountains watching the mist float in over the water . . . I love this season.

What do you like about October?

Book Spotlight

She proved she was strong enough to survive. He proved he was strong enough to love her. When Hattie is faced with an unexpected choice, will she bury her heart on the battlefield forever or find a way to love again?

"Hattie of Crooked Creek" by MK McClintock

Genre: Western/Civil War

Type: Short Story/Novelette

Heat Level: 1

Language Level: 1

Violence Level: 2

Click here to learn more about content ratings.

#MKMcClintock #CrookedCreekseries #TheCaptivatingQuill #westernromance #books #GlacierNationalPark

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