Thursday, 14 March 2013

When writing isn't simple anymore - Cynnara Tregarth

Today I have the great pleasure to welcome one of my first people to encourage me in my writing. I can honestly say I wouldn't have finished my first book without the help and support of this lovely lady. This is a very personal and inspiring post and we are privileged to have her share with us.

When I started writing a decade ago, the words used to pour from my fingertips onto the page. It was
  the writing process seemed to be. Looking back now, I laugh and I miss that easiness. When you’re unpublished, you write simply to write. It’s the most wonderful thing in the world. You have these stories, these ideas that you just know will sell and that will get you a contract. So, you write, then you write some more, then you keep writing. If you’re very, very lucky, a professional writer in your field will warn you against burnout and how to pace yourself when things get too much. I had that, but then I had real life crash down around me.
With each book I wrote, I tried to write better. It’s every writer’s goal. But I also wanted to entice new readers into my stories. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t like editing—it’s not that I don’t like the process—I just have this thing—once I’m done with a story, I’m OVER it. I don’t want to go back for a while, and I’d like to do something else. Edits do not allow for that. *sigh* But I slog on and learn more from those evil things. In my career, I learned from other authors to watch for burnout and to learn to protect myself when it came to contracts and other things. In many ways, I did, but health wise—I hadn’t. When my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, I was just coming back from a minor bout of depression. Since we writers write alone, but talk online a lot, it sometimes is hard to talk about things like depression, or loneliness. Then with the day job too, it made things harder as well. For six months, I was on a precipice with my mom—hoping she wouldn’t die, but knowing inside that she would. You have to understand that she was my first cheerleader in my writing. When I told her I was writing romance novels and trying to get them published, my mom was so excited that she bought me Word for my computer. My mom wanted me to be in Harlequin, LoveSwept and the like. Why? She loved reading her romances and mysteries—and so did I. It was where she and I bonded through the years—our love of reading.

When mom passed away that January, I felt something snap in my writing. I became better at putting things together, but I was missing something. Plus, my focus was shot. You have to understand, I could be online with friends in IM talking and write over 4k in 5 hours, no problem. Suddenly, I could barely put out 1k in the same amount of time. Something was wrong. I was grieving, or so I thought. Finally, I got professional help. I’m grateful. Yes, I was grieving, but moreover, there was more to it than that. Seems that my past had caught up with me and my mom’s death was the breaking point. It also seemed that my coping techniques through the years helped me to cover up something important—I was diagnosed with ADD, attention deficit disorder. Talk about a shocker. More importantly, talk about something I didn’t want to admit to having or believing could affect my writing. But there it was, looming over me, mocking my ability to put down a paragraph. It laughed at me as I struggled with edits on my next book. It giggled and told me I sucked as I took one year to finish a novella. One year! I never took that long to write a story before!

Welcome to my new world of writing. It took me years of therapy, classes on dealing with my ADD, and medication to get a grip on myself. Plus, technology has become my friend in this writing world. The world of writing went from simple to the hardest thing I could ever do. Now, I’ve made it so it’s not as hard as it once was. It will never be as simple as the past, but I’m okay with that now. This time last year, I’d be wishing for the old me still. But the new me has a voice recognition program that she paid out good money for and loves. It helps to transcribe things—and it does work a lot better than I thought it would. I do need a better digital recorder, but that will come in time. I can use a wireless headset with it and it’s fantastic! I can use my smart phone to dictate and then transfer it to the computer. *grins* I also learned it is easier for me to edit things on a page
then to start with a fresh, blank page. The only things that are easy for me write are blog posts. Silly, right? But for some reason, blog posts are able to roll off my fingertips now when I used to really struggle with them. I can’t do five of them a week, but I can write two to three of them and feel happy with myself.

So why do I point this out? Because all writers will face a crisis in their writing career—published or not. It’s what you do when it hits that will either bring you to the next level or you might give up and quit. I faced that demon a few times. I really did. But, I realized there were still stories to be told and characters who still talked to me. They need their stories told and I needed to get better so I could tell their stories. I can’t tell you that my way will be your way of dealing with a breakdown or with hitting that wall, but you have to realize—there is always another way around that evil stoppage. Write by hand, dictate to your computer and then type it up as you listen to yourself talk, or even ask if someone can type it up for you. If you can afford voice recognition software like Dragon Naturally Speaking, try it! If you think you need something else—try it! I bought Scrivener and Write Way Pro. Both are fantastic programs and I like them both. Plus, I found I can dictate into either of them. *chuckles* Which means it makes my life even better! More importantly, if you find yourself sluggish, pulling away from everyone, hiding from family and friends—get help. Go to the doctor and tell them you’re not feeling normal. That possibly you’re depressed or something else is wrong with you. Sometimes the wall isn’t a writer’s block—sometimes it’s a physical thing that can be taken care of with medication and some therapy. I’m one of those who had both. In some ways, it’s lucky and unlucky. I’ve had to relearn how to write—which means I had to throw away how I thought I should be, of who I used to be when I wrote before. I wasn’t that person anymore. I had to really embrace the author I am now- someone who has deeper skills, a better grasp of humanity, and knows what she wants to accomplish. I’m not afraid of hitting the wall anymore. I know if I hit it, there are tools all around me to help me get around it, under it or to blast it from here to eternity.

Writing may be simple when you first start. It wouldn’t be fun if it weren’t. It gets more complex the better you get at it. It might slow you down, but it will never stop you. Keep pushing forward. Use new and varied techniques to help you continue that forward pace. Sometimes, you might be surprised what will happen at the end of that first road—a new contract, new friends who push you even more, or even realizing it’s been a decade since your first book has come out. It’s simply amazing what you’ll discover on that journey. Keep writing.
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Maggie Nash said...

Thank you so much for sharing your intensely personal journey with us Cynn. I think many of us go through similar struggles, and it's always a comfort to know that despite the solitary aspects of writing, we are still not alone in what we feel and what we are dealing with.

Unknown said...

I hadn't realized how much I needed to tell my story. To remind writers we need to are for ourselves like we do our characters. It has been tough but one that is a day by day battle. I am thrilled when I get 1k in. I know how much that means to me now.

Maggie Nash said...

I'm thrilled when I get ANY writing done Cynn! It's a continual journey, that's for sure. It is definitely cathartic to write about the struggle

Author H K Carlton said...

Amazing post. Thank you for sharing your story, Cynnara.
All the best,