Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ask the Authors: Thursday

Ask the Authors: Thursday

If you have questions you’d like us to ask during a future “Ask the Authors” week, send it to As always, thanks for joining us!

Today’s question: What is your biggest frustration about the writing life?

My biggest frustration is deadlines. There just never seems to be enough time to finish a novel the way I want it finished, never enough time for rewrites, no matter how much time I have. --Hannah Alexander

The speed with which it is necessary to produce novels in order to write fulltime. One of my favorite authors writes a book every seven years. His books are well-researched and about 250 thousand words in length. I’m a deliberate craftsman, and while I don’t think I’d want to take seven years to write a book, I'd love to be able to slow down to one book a year. — Jack Cavanaugh

The way regular life intrudes upon it. I have my schedule and my week planned out, and then so many other things seem to crop up that need immediate attention. It's a constant battle to prioritize correctly. -- Robin Lee Hatcher

Often the business side of writing encroaches on the creative side. It's a very difficult balance, because both matter. I find myself longing for uninterrupted time to get lost in a story, even as I'm fiddling with promotional materials and what have you. The only solution is discipline. Oy. --- Liz Curtis Higgs

First drafts! Hate ‘em, hate ‘em, hate ‘em! Give me a sloppy, disorganized, pitiful manuscript and I can fix it up good as new. But getting those words down on the blank screen is like pulling teeth, giving birth, murder—whatever cliché you want to fill in the blank with. ––Deborah Raney

(1) Time. There's never enough of it. And (2) The ever-present, usually banal chatter about the inferior quality of Christian fiction by those who "almost never read it," yet for some reason always seem to be writing it...and critiquing it. -BJ Hoff

That I can’t take volumes of time to write a book. I have to attack it every day. Then I have to have the same attack skills to keep my name in front of the public. I have to be my own publicity agent. I know of an author who hired a publicity agent. She spent most of her time driving the agent to work as hard for her as she had done. It can be a little daunting to realize that when your book is finished your work has just begun. --Patty Hickman

Patience. I have none. The writing process is a slow one in every area. Beginning from the start, through the sale, the editorial process, marketing, building a solid fan base. It all takes time. –Lori Copeland

Sales Figures. Period. They can absolutely lay me flat. --Lisa Samson

The solitude. It is essential to the writing process but also counter-productive to it. One cannot write authentically without rich life experiences, yet those kinds of experiences are impossible to get while sitting alone in a room with a keyboard, yet the actual writing can only be done alone. Also, because of the solitary nature of the writing process the feedback from those one hopes to reach is often too little, too late. Other art forms provide the artist with more immediate reactions. Singers, musicians, actors and dancers have the audience right there, but just as writers write alone, readers typically read alone. It’s hard to know what resonates and what does not until many months of work are already done. Often the best feedback comes after the work is bound and on the shelf and it’s too late for adjustments. One must trust one’s instincts all the more and instincts are often so untrustworthy. In the end, you have to write for just yourself and hope enough people will understand to allow you to keep getting published. —Athol Dickson

Writing. ~Brandilyn Collins

The long time between finishing a novel and seeing it come out. This is a reality of the sales process, but I'd much rather have books hit much sooner. -- James Scott Bell

The fact that it's so STINKIN' hard to get started! Don't know why, but getting started on a story is like pulling teeth for me. With double shots of novocaine. (And if you knew how much I HATE dentists, you'd understand just how bad that is!) It's something I've prayed about, asking God to help me overcome it. Because once I get into the writing, it's much better. But getting in there...just hate that. --Karen Ball

Hearing the prejudice that abounds against Christian fiction. Romance writers face the same kind of attitude, but that doesn’t make the caustic comments sting any less. –Angela Hunt


At 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had it up to here with the criticism against Christian fiction. It's stale and vapid and has almost no merit since the biggest criticizers rarely read it. It's not like secular fiction doesn't produce junk--probably more percentage-wise.
You guys are top of the line, and I commend you. I write literary/romance myself (unpublished so far), so I'll be banished to the less-than-authentic-writer mode soon--I hope.
Could also imagine how difficult it is to see the slow progress of producing a book. Does seem like it should happen faster.
Thanks for the honesty.

At 7:27 AM, Blogger matt e. said...

I really enjoy these "ask the author" posts. Thanks.

At 7:51 AM, Blogger ~michelle pendergrass said...

Athol, I'm amazed you've addressed yet another issue that has been rolling around in my brain. Thank you again.

I was involved in a home business in which conferences were a big part of. Also, I was sent by my church to several different conferences for educational purposes. My husband called me the "conference guru" because for the past two years, I've been at a conference every other month.

At my first Christian conference, I went alone. I was a little upset that everyone had someone else to talk with, but I just went with the flow. There was a worship service and I got in the chapel just before the music started. I took a seat. As I was swept into worship, I closed my eyes, put my hand in the air and sang. When the song was over, I opened my eyes and looked around. The chapel was completely full and there I was in the pew.


In the middle of the pew, I was alone. I silently prayed and told God I knew He must be trying to tell me something, but I didn't know what.

I think that conference was about two years ago. Since then, this theme of being alone has been a constant one in my life. It seems you may have just hit on an important aspect of solitude that I've overlooked. As I'm realizing the simplicity of it all, I'm again reminded of David. He wasn't called a man after God's own heart because he looked to others to fill his needs. Through his life, David relied on God.

I can see that my audience should be One. It is Him I should be looking to when I feel I need acceptance and He'll never let me down.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

I'm enjoying the Ask the Authors segment. Thanks for bringing it to us. I love CC.

As I read today's answers to "What is your biggest frustration about the writing life?," I noticed several said how hard the writing itself is. The thought occured to me, What if this question were put to unpublished writers? I know I would've had a hard time coming up with a frustration (about the writing, at least) because the words just seemed to drip from my fingertips onto the computer screen; the exhilaration was, well, exhilarating! :) I guess the only frustration would've been not being able to get published.

Then, what would the answer be to those who barely have their toe in the publishing world, like me? Funny, how the answers to the same question vary depending on where you are in The Great Big Publishing World. (Maybe this doesn't make sense; I need to get back to my manuscript.)

Anyway, thanks again for some thought provokers.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Lori Benton said...


"One of my favorite authors writes a book every seven years. His books are well-researched and about 250 thousand words in length."

Oh.... My dream writing life. Right there.

Who is this blessed author, anyway?

Lori Benton

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Cavanaugh says....

The writer who takes seven years to write a book (even with sequels) is Herman Wouk...Winds of War, War and Remembrance, The Caine Mutiny, and others. In my opinion, the guy writes seamless historical fiction. He does a lot of on-site research, another dream of mine. I had to bring my American Family Portrait series family to San Diego during WWII finally to write about a place where I've actually been.

At 4:52 PM, Blogger Southern-fried Fiction said...

I'm like you, Deb. I really enjoy the editing portion, but pushing that that baby out is real labor, to follow your childbirth thread. ;o)


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