May 14, 2014

Writing Club Wednesday: Guest Post on New Manuscripts by Marie Langager

Hey, Misfiteers, and happy Writing Club Wednesday! As it is the second Wednesday of the month, we have yet another fabulous guest poster, this time YA sci-fi author Marie Langager! So come say hi, check out her fab gifs, and, of course, check out her book, BEYOND OUR STARS!

Hi! My post today is a brawl between three parts of my brain that kick into overdrive when I begin a new manuscript. In one corner we have Excitement (or compulsion, drive, obsession, whatever you'd like to call it) and in another we have Doubt (resulting in procrastination) and in a third we have Reason (oh, that damn reason, always so reasonable).

*Note: this is not writing under a deadline. I think that would be a different animal.

Round One

Excitement: I have this unique idea—it will be amazing. I’m going to write it.

Doubt: That idea is no good, and you can’t write it anyway.

Reason: There’s no way to know, yet. You have to write it first and see.

Annnd the first round goes to…Excitement! Yeah, it’s always, always excitement that wins the first round for me. Reason is a close second.

Round Two

Excitement: I can write so many books and be fast fast fast and I have to spend every single second of free time writing and thinking about writing.

Doubt: No one will ever care about your stories the way you care about your stories.

Reason: Do the best you can, stretch yourself and get better with every round of revision. Make sure you're growing as a writer. Write for the love of the story, that's it.

And the winner is... These three beat each other to a pulp in my brain this round. No clear champion.

Round Three

Excitement: I won't be able to sleep well or relax properly until this manuscript is out of my head, re-written, revised, edited and sitting in word form on my desktop. It's going to be everything I want it to be. All the words, now now now now now now now now

Doubt: You are wasting your time. No one will ever read this. It's awful and you suck. You suck you suck you suck. What is this sentence you wrote here?

Reason: I've written and reread the first third. I think...maybe...this might be something. I really love it, I'm feeling many feelings. I have both confidence and doubt, and I know that never goes away.

And the third round goes to...

Oh, who am I kidding? They just keep bashing each other, that's it, there's never going to be a clear winner again. I think it's a brave and horrible and terrifying act for any writer when they say: I'm going to start and complete this book now. When you're staring into the gauntlet of blank pages and thinking, this is how I'm going to spend the few hours (or whatever) a week I have that aren't already filled with all-the-other-things.

What I've been thinking about a lot, is why I write, because it helps me start new projects.

Whatever stage you're in as a writer (pre-agent, pre-pub, post-debut, you've written a dozen) I think no time spent crafting stories was wasted, even if it's a manuscript you don't end up publishing. There isn't any other way to grow.

I write YA because it's the stories I read during those years, not books I read when I was older, that I remember with so much love. I think that's true of a lot of YA/ MG/ NA writers.

So now, I tell myself to keep writing through the excitement-doubt battle (even though those times creep up when I'm going, why, why do I choose to do this?) because I love it--including the hard work and multiple rewrites and never ending revisions. I was talking to someone about how we as writers often write the post we need to read at a particular time. So I guess this is mine for right now :) Because I'm thinking about how I'm writing the stories teenage me would have loved. I remind myself of this so that later, when I have those moments when all confidence abandons me, I can say to this insanity we call writing books:

(Sorry if this is cheesy. I guess I'm finishing with a bit of a love letter to writing. Ah well, I regret nothing.)

:-) Marie

Marie Langager writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. Her debut novel BEYOND OUR STARS is out now, published by Bloomsbury Spark. She loves sugar (rice krispie treats, pie, etc.) with black coffee on the side, and stories about teens as leaders in dire circumstances. She could spend a week in Disneyland's Adventureland and not be bored.


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