Monday, January 30, 2012

Writing...the Career Bane for Control Freaks

It's no secret in my family that I'm something of a control freak.  I've been working on it for what seems like my whole life.  But like the old adage, "Don't pray for patience or you're going to get opportunities to be patient," seeking to be less in control leads to the same thing.

You'd think writing would be the ideal career for a control freak like me, right?  After all, I get to create my own worlds and populate them with my characters who do what I want...if you're a writer, you're laughing already.  About the only thing true in that statement is that I get to create the world and well write it...but even my fictional world is subject to limits - be they historical fact, fantasy convention or simply that my characters refuse to inhabit a world of a certain point.

Right...fictional characters...more willful than my extremely stubborn children and their equally stubborn parents.  Characters do what they want and it's not so easy to change their course when an editor asks for revisions.  You'd think it would be, it's your book after all.  But you'd be wrong.  I've learned that when the characters won't change, I have to up my game as a writer - come up with better motivation for actions, flesh out the setting and background to make the world they insist on inhabiting make sense.

While recalcitrant characters are one of the biggest challenges to a writer's control freak tendencies, they are by no means alone.

Consider the muse, or imagination, or inspiration, or whatever else you want to call that thing in a writer's brain from which stories spring.  It's the most fickle, inconsistent, annoying thing ever.

No, seriously.  As a writer for three publishers (sometimes four), I have serious deadlines and the longer I write, the harder they are to meet sometimes.  Because I don't get to write what I want when I want, it can make the process of creating the book a heck of a lot more painful than it was before time-lines dictated when I worked on certain character's stories.

My editors have been supremely patient with me this last couple of years because of dealing with my mom's final health issue and subsequent death.  I can't tell you how grateful I am, but even with their understanding, sometimes my characters just kick my controlling butt.

I kid you not.

And that's just the creative side of writing...let's not get into the business, where undecipherable whim controls publisher support, book sales, reader reaction and the next contract's terms.

All-in-all, I couldn't have picked a career more guaranteed to beat back the control freak in me than that of being a writer.

It's your turn:  if you could do/be anything in the world, what would you do for a career/lifestyle?

I'll be honest, no matter how hard, there is nothing I can imagine more rewarding or challenging (which I *need*) than writing.  I love my job.

Hugs and happy reading,
Lucy


P.S.  You might have seen in the sidebar, but I'm down 11 pounds - just over 10% to goal.  I'm SO happy about it and I'm loving the whole process so far. :)

14 comments:

Judy said...

Then there is the minor, minor, minor character (as in one mention in the book), who decides there's a whole story waiting for them if you'll just get a move on and write it. They proceed to inundate you with the opening scene, expecting you to drop everything else.

Every job has its pluses and minuses. The decision lies in determining whether or not you can live with both.

I've done a lot of different jobs in my life. Fifty is on the horizon, and I've decided that if I want to be a writer, then I better give it my all now. I'm not getting any younger. I have the advantage of being single, so working on my writing 24/7 doesn't affect anyone but me. I've never been more terrified or happier in my life.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Lucy Monroe said...

Judy...that's exactly right...if you don't pursue your passion now, when will you? Keep on keeping on and remember, I'm in *your* corner! :)

Denise said...

Weird, I was just thinking about this a few minutes ago.

I've been trying to come up with more writing time lately and it has been hard. I've passed the fifty mark now it isn't getting any easier. Even though the kids are now gone, there doesn't seem to be time between my day (that would actually be night shift)job and family committments. But I don't give up, I just keep writing.I don't have a choice. These characters won't stop talking to me.

I am lucky though, because I love my day job. I've been a nurse for 19 years and it is the most rewarding job I can imagine. I've done everything from delivering babies to comforting a family who has lost a loved one. I make it my responsiblity to put myself in the pts place and I always end up coming out with a blessing.

Thanks for the blog, Lucy, and if you have any great tips on how to keep your family away when you are writing, let me know.

chey said...

Congrats on the weight loss!

TashNz said...

Hi Lucy, congrats on your achievements... If I could be anything at all it would be a rockstar!

Lucy Monroe said...

Denise...for me the problem is that I don't like to keep my family at bay, but sometimes you just have to. One thing I do is to put earbuds in and listen to music, so I just can't hear them. I also have a "Do Not Disturb" sign for my door. I strongly suggest writing in a place where you won't hear the phone ring - and if that means turning it on silent, then do it. Turn off your cell phone and tell hubby you need to concentrate to write, so you're putting in the headphones. Letting him know when you expect to be done helps set boundaries too - most people don't like to be perceived as rude and won't interrupt if you tell them when you'll be available to them again.

The only person who can set the boundaries and keep them is you and trust me, I know how VERY difficult that is. But like you said - the characters won't leave you alone, so you gotta do something.

One thing I do is remind my family just how cranky I am (and can be) when I don't write. It's part of my process of staying calm and happy, so don't try taking it away. LOL

Thanks, Chey!

TashNZ...really? Cool! I've often said that I couldn't handle much more notoriety than I get just being a writer. But to be able to perform music that would delight millions? Now that would be fun!

Debby said...

Congrats on your weight loss. I wish to try myself but have a hard time.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Lorna said...

Congrats on your weight loss! That is awesome!

I already have my perfect job, I just wish it paid more :-). I'm a payroll auditor with the Gov't of Canada and I really like what I do for a living.

I keep telling my son, either find a job that pays you so much money that you can afford to take time off and do the things you love, or find a job that you love and pays enough that you can live comfortably. Of course the best would be to find a high paying job that you love to do!

lidia said...

Lucy,

Congratulations on your weight loss.

As for jobs -- I love my job. I've been consulting for 14 years and can honestly say that the majority of time I truly love what I am doing.

Lucy Monroe said...

Thanks, Debby...I can't tell you how much easier it is using MyFitnessPal. But remember, I'm sponsoring a fitness challenge in April. I hope you'll participate. :)

Lorna, I absolutely agree! My mom always said the same thing too. It makes for a very contented life one way or another. :)

Lidia...wonderful to see you! I think one of the best things in life is to love what you do. I can't imagine wanting to do anything else than writing - people ask if I'll quit, or retire, or something and I just can't imagine it. I want to be like Betty Neels, finishing my last book weeks before heading off to Heaven. :)

marybelle said...

Congratulations on your weight loss.

I would seriously love to read for a living. Just read & review & enjoy.

Virginia said...

Congrats on the weight loss. Thats what I need to do myself but its so hard for me to loose weight anymore. I have started walking again so thats a plus but the pounds just want come off anymore.

Lucy Monroe said...

Thanks, Marybelle. :) Wouldn't that be the most amazing job?

Virginia - my mom got like that. The best thing you can do is change up your exercise and eating 6 *small* meals a day to encourage your metabollic rate to increase over time. Light muscle toning will help with that since muscle burns fat. Do you still have a VCR? I've got some Denise Austen 10 Minute Target toners that are great for starting and building over time. They're my favorites from way back and I'd be happy to send them to you. Email me off my website with your adress if you'll use them. :)

Lucy Monroe said...

Thanks, Marybelle. :) Wouldn't that be the most amazing job?

Virginia - my mom got like that. The best thing you can do is change up your exercise and eating 6 *small* meals a day to encourage your metabollic rate to increase over time. Light muscle toning will help with that since muscle burns fat. Do you still have a VCR? I've got some Denise Austen 10 Minute Target toners that are great for starting and building over time. They're my favorites from way back and I'd be happy to send them to you. Email me off my website with your adress if you'll use them. :)