Writing isn't a verb, it's an emotion

August 22, 2008 at 10:06 am (Random Thoughts, Writing)


This writing thing is a crazy thing, isn’t it? In the past few weeks, I’ve been all over the board, and this is what I’ve discovered.


Number One: Writing is Emotional. And I’m not just talking about the physical act of getting the words down, I mean everything—writing, editing, networking, trying to publish, improving your craft, planning for the future, researching and the list goes on. This week alone I have experienced intense joy at adding the perfect line, felt like I’d had the wind knocked out of me with a critique that I thought was going to go better, burned with frustration because I have to go to work and can’t be home writing full-time, yet also knew with a bone-deep certainty that my dream of being a career author was going to happen. And I wouldn’t give any of it up.


Number Two: Writing Takes Time. This spring I was flying along on my newest historical. I was planning to finish it before the end of July, but didn’t. Why? Partly because I had a few hiccups along the way that threw my schedule off a bit, but the other was the scenes I could see in my head like a movie, taking maybe 10-15 minutes of screen time, were taking days and days and days to write. I adore these scenes and my fingers fly when I write them, but transforming my vision to words is a timely and draining experience. Now, in my Editing and Polishing stage for my rom-com-para-lite, I am completely immersed. Lunch hours, nights, and weekends are dedicated to crafting the best book I can write and that means very little time for anything else. I’ve got a pantry that’s overcrowded and unorganized, friends I haven’t seen in months, and an exercise bike that’s become a monstrous dust bunny, but my dream is a harsh mistress, and she makes sure I know every minute I’m not working on a book is another minute I’m not getting published. And I wouldn’t give any of it up.


Number Three: Writing is a Joy. God, wouldn’t this stress, angst, heartbreak and exhaustion be so easy to give up? Especially when you hear some of the horror stories of the published? But I can’t. In the words of the incomparable Lani Diane Rich when she’s talking about writing, “I can’t quit you.” Even though I’ve been doing this on and off for twelve years now (12 years, 2 weeks, and 2 days if you want to be official), I can’t stop. I’ve been knocked down, battered, and bruised, but I keep getting back up. Sitting down in my moss-green squishy chair, amethyst and garnet silk pillows behind my back and head, floor and candlestick lamps providing a perfect light for my wonderful little laptop, I am blissfully happy. I enter the world I’ve created, watch characters I’ve molded take breath and become people I would recognize on the street, and dance with them through one of the greatest struggles of their lives. Ask me to give up chai tea, ask me to renounce Buffy, ask me to turn off the air conditioning, just don’t ask me to give up writing, because I can’t.


It’s difficult because some people I need to read this, aren’t going to, and those that may, probably wouldn’t understand anyway. I think in addition to being an emotion, writing is also a disease. Those of us who have it, understand others who do, and those lucky bastards who don’t get to go home and watch TV without shouting out “Turning point!” or enjoy a conversation with a friend and not cut them off to write down something they just said, because “That’s a great line.”


Don’t worry. Pretty soon I’ll be back to my laughing, snarky self and my usual posts will resume (including more stories from Nationals, complete with pictures!) This was just something burning in me that I had to get out.






  1. Alyson Noel said,

    You totally nailed it!
    Writers write, it’s what we do— we just can’t stop ourselves!
    May your words flow, and your fingers fly—


  2. Marilyn Brant said,

    You understand…
    And, Pam, that’s why writers need each other (even though we’re generally so abnormal 🙂 ) and why we all become this necessary, undeniable part of each other’s lives…because there may be a world of wonderful, loving, caring people out there, but they won’t understand the obsession, the heart-stopping fear and the crazy-joy of doing what we do unless they’re a writer, too.
    Glad you’re a part of this “family,” my friend!

  3. Ilana said,

    You know, after book number one, I keep thinking I should just stop and find something else. But you said it, I can’t. Despite numerous rejections on novel #1, I am working on novel #2 and odds there will be more…

  4. Sandra said,

    I love your descriptions of writing the characters. They do live in our heads, don’t they? And I would so recognize these people. At times, I’m ready to tear the pages apart piece by piece until there is a serious rain of confetti, and then at other times, I feel more comfortable with these characters than members of my family.

    As for those who don’t get it — they just don’t. Are great painters, designers, poets understood? Generally not. Why rock that boat?

    My daughter goes to Texas A & M and they have a t-shirt that says: From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.

    ‘Nuff said.

    Happy writing.

  5. Melissa Blue said,

    I’ve been knocked down, battered, and bruised, but I keep getting back up.

    This is key. There is no way you can go into this game, love it and not get kicked around a few times or a million times. It’s all about reminding yourself why you do it in the first place. I’ve learned it can’t just be “To get published” because that will get old quick. You have to love the writing. You have to love the books you write and believe in them enough to take those knocks when you go back to get it published.

    Stick it out, because you are not alone.

  6. Caryn Caldwell said,

    Wow. Very well-said, Pam. There is a reason why so many writers say that most or all of their good friends are also writers. It is so hard for others to understand that kind of passion, especially when it is paired with so much pain and emotional exhaustion.

  7. pamwritesromance said,

    Alyson–I’m going to put that on a bumper sticker or something. May your words flow and your fingers fly. Love it!

    Marilyn–how right you are, and even in spite of the pain, I wouldn’t give this family up for the world. 🙂

    Ilana–Woot on book #2! May your words flow and fingers fly!

  8. pamwritesromance said,

    Sandra–I now have a t-shirt to go with my bumper sticker. Thanks! 🙂

    Melissa–Mwah! Mwah, mwah, mwah!!!

    Caryn–pain? emotional exhaustion? We eat these for breakfast, don’t we? Maybe we should make a movie about being a writer–it’s be called G.M.C. Jane and would star Demi Moore. 😉

  9. Melina said,

    Oh Pam, very well put! I really admire your dedication! And I agree, writing without a support network would be dreadful. . . maybe even impossible.

  10. Marilyn Brant said,

    Ha!!! G.M.C. Jane… Now that’s what I want my t-shirt to say :).

  11. Caryn Caldwell said,

    Pam, I love the movie idea!

  12. Pam said,

    Melina–yup, it’s all about the community we have around us as writers. I don’t see how you could do it any other way.

    Marilyn–for you, babe, I’ll make you a t-shirt!

    Caryn–well, maybe we talk to Blake Snyder about our idea! You in? 😉

  13. lainey bancroft said,

    I get you! Totally! You get me! Totally cool!

    Oh, I’d rather have a writer com…munity, than have to have a bottle in front’a me!

    Sorry. If I promise never to sing again can I still be in the family? =)

  14. Robin said,

    It’s so nice to know we writers aren’t alone, given that we sit alone most of the time when writing. As mentioned by so many comments, Pam, your feelings are shared by all of us! When I started writing I never imagined coming in contact with such an extraodinary community of other writers, and it certainly makes the struggles worth all the effort. The friendship between writers is priceless!

  15. Melissa Blue said,

    Writing communities are very, very important, because as writers either don’t take ourselves serious enough or too serious to the point we suck the fun out of everything. Friends who love you will tell you to stop it. Now. Or else.

    Gotta love communities.

  16. pamwritesromance said,

    Lainey–thankfully, we don’t judge on singing, so of course you can stay! 🙂

    Robin–isn’t it amazing? When I started writing I was so alone, but now I feel like I have a community of thousands!

    Melissa–Amen. It’s so nice to know our brand of crazy isn’t alone.

  17. L.A. Mitchell said,

    I love how you capture everything we wish to say but don’t always to those around us. Maybe we save the words for the page. Maybe we realize they just will never get it, or us.
    I think you should wear your twelve years as a badge of honor. I ‘m going on ten. When career-level success finds us, we will be stronger for it 🙂

  18. Pam said,

    L.A.–it’s nice to know my emotional explosion came to some good. (snork) And when I heard Anna Campbell had been writing ten years before she got published with Claiming the Courtesan, my faith became even stronger. Woot for us double-digiters!

  19. Caryn Caldwell said,

    LOL! Sounds good. Though I bet Blake Snyder has enough people presenting their ideas to him all the time.

  20. Kyle said,

    Believe me, we’ve all been there. Anyone who says writing is easy is kidding themselves. And, on the same note, we’re all masochists. We have to be! Everything you mentioned above, all the torture, it’s going to pay off, but we’ve got to get through it first!

    Don’t worry, you’ve got a lot of determination…! And that’s 90% of the battle!

  21. Pam said,

    Caryn, yes Blake has people pitching ideas to him all the time, but we’ll wow him with G.M.C. Jane. He’ll love it! 😉

    Kyle–Hi!!! It’s great to hear from you, even if we’re talking about masochism! 🙂

  22. Kyle said,

    Glad to be back! Sometimes I go into a funk where even seeing my RSS feed build up is stressful and I ignore it… I KNOW, lame!

    And, if we have to talk about something, it might as well be about masochism! 😀

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