Sunday, June 13, 2010

Writing Struggles by Susan Reinhardt

My writing career slammed agent-first into a brick wall.

It started when I gave up my long-time agent, thinking like a car, I should trade before the accelerator locks up, thus deals freeze.

My hot new agent, like a little red sports car, was young enough for me to have given birth. She up and fired me when she couldn’t sell “Chimes From a Cracked Southern Belle,” my new unpublished, lingering-in-limbo novel.

I have all but given up finding an agent to champion this Billie Letts type Southern fiction.

This leaves me with a writing career that isn’t tethered to the world of editors, agents and publishers. I’m floating free and out of control.

I gave a half-hearted attempt at finding a new agent, but life got in the way.

I can’t write. I don’t have time. I’m too stressed out. Has anyone ever felt this way?

My son is 17 and this past year has been in trouble at school, with the law (think Mr. Misdemeanor) and hooked up with the wrong crowd, the ones who think a bag of dope is better than the honor roll or even a new car.

I’ve been so out-of-control with the stress of finding him counseling and services, being turned down even though I’m insured, that writing has been swept into the corners of my creativity.

Do I even have any creativity? Where is my Muse? Is she sleeping off a bad hangover?

As for my son, I’ve been acting like Mrs. Kravitz from “Bewitched,” and following him here and there can get fairly creative. And rather exhausting not to mention time-consuming.

My church is tired of me jumping to altar call, then next, asking for the prayer team to anoint me and put some Jesus back into my boy.

Used to be I had time to write. But I’m entering the great anxiety den and find my muse somewhere in the bottom of a clogged drain. All my energies are focused on getting my son back on track.

When I do manage to send out a batch of queries, I hear the same thing. “You’re a talented writer, but I didn’t connect with the story.”

Please, someone, connect.

I mean, I consider myself a great mom but I guess I’m not connecting to my son’s life, either.

There has to be a point – both with home, work and getting my boy on the right path - – where there’s connection.

There has to be a phrase agents can use besides, “I needed to connect on a DEEPER level.” If I hear it again, I may throw my laptop over the deck. It sucks, anyway. Not the deck, the laptop.

I’m hearing a lot from editors and agents that it’s hard to sell women’s fiction. And I’m wondering if this is true, or just an easy way to let a gal down.

This is my dry spell. The desert of what was a promising career.

Maybe God’s trying to tell me that the kids come first and need me more than the anonymous reader in Kentucky.

My husband told me to return to writing humorous non-fiction, which I had no trouble selling. It’s just that I believe in this novel. My goal is to query 30 more agents, and then regroup.

Meanwhile, I’ll be in various therapies with my son, knowing he takes priority over publication.

Better times are sure to come. We writers must believe this.


Anonymous said...

I hope things are better for you very soon.

Karin Gillespie said...

My son is 23 and I'm having similar troubles. I keep hoping he'll grow out of it soon. BTW, you're a hilarious writer and I've no doubt you'll be publishing many more books.

c.a. Marks said...

Oh dear. You are not alone. I love the sound of the novel. This is why I wish I could get not publishing myself, so many talented writers out there.

While my son is only 13 and has not been in any sort of trouble.... YET, I could definitely see him being easily influenced by the wrong crowd. I opted for military school and he has THRIVED there. He LOVES it. But, I understand that individuals are just that, individuals needing different types of love, treatment, and discipline. I wish you well on your journey. And perhaps, just for your own therapy, maybe you could write a similar story about it, WITHOUT the thought of publishing it. You know, the same but with fictional characters. And yes, believe it or not you could add some humor to it. Your own humor with your struggles.

Anyway, I've probably over stepped my boundaries here. Just know that someone else out here is thinking of you and sending up happy thoughts.

c.a. Marks said...

Grrr, that first paragraph was supposed to say, "This is why I wish I could get INTO publishing myself...."

JLC said...

Thank goodness, C.A.! I thought I was losing what few wits I have left--maybe as the result of reading so many misprints in my last novel. Just for anyone who reads this post and the one that inspired it, with all the good will in the world, I have to say that I'm grateful that my youngest grandchild is going on 14. How DO you manage in today's world?

Been there, done that.

Kerry Madden said...

My son is 21 but 16-20 about slayed me...We had a particularly rough time last year that one day I hope to find the courage to write about it, but this year I've seen the first real glimmers of maturity. But last year and the year before that and the year before that I was often a mother panther pacing the floors at three, four, five a.m. waiting and wondering where he was...There were many days I could hardly write a word... Know that you will get through this but it sucks...if you can go to the movies (good ones - see Winter's Bone, The Last Station, Please Give - I found film easier than books at times because I could totally escape into stories with chocolate), go to yoga, take a walk in the mountains...find a way to allow peace into the insanity. Thinking of you, Susan. It will pass but while you're in it take care of yourself and your daughter and husband...know you are loved...


Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
I am so sorry to hear of the struggles with your son, but hang in there! My trials with my own son came back to visit me after reading your post. Hopefully you will have a happy (relieved) ending, as did mind. I wish you patience, strength, and prayers.
Jackie Lee Miles

Amy Reynolds said...

Susan, hang in there. One of the great things about being a writer is that it never really goes away. The muse may skip out & catch a flight to some tropical paradise without us, but she'll never leave for good and you have to have faith in that. Right now you have a full plate and maybe you need to just step back and deal with what you have, THEN pick things back up. Give it a deadline, say two months, then get back to it. In the meantime, if you give yourself permission NOT to write (or do any writerly things) you'll likely find ideas flowing like crazy. Jot them down and put them in the inbox.
As to your son, I have one 18 and one 20 and I really think teen boys should come with a Rx for valium - one for us and one for them. But that ain't the case! Know that no matter what you do, he's at the age where he's going to make his own decisions, good or bad. And the harder you push, the harder he's going to push back. My 20 yr old is moving back home this weekend to start over (which means 3 "adult" kids at home again now, how will I ever have peace to write a single word?!?) and has finally agreed to MY rules (no drugs/drinking, finish school) but it took a long time to get to this and a lot of gray hair on my part.
Hang in there - I hope you'll forgive advice from a total stranger but your post was SO close to home!

renea said...

Thank you for your heart-felt post. Don't worry, children and muses always come home again. Hugs, Renea