I Don’t Wanna!

As some of you might know, I have time on my hands at work these days. Out of an 8 hour day I do about 30 minutes worth of work. And this does not mean I put off doing my work to play. It means I don’t have any work to do.

For a person trying to write a book by the end of the summer, you would think this would be a good thing. Nope. I can’t even make myself open the file at this point. The more e-courses and workshops I take, the more I realize that I suck at this. Deep POV, active vs. passive, creating conflict, creating real characters and dialogue. Who the hell was I trying to fool thinking I could do any of that?

I tried to apply the active vs. passive voice to the chapter I’m working on right now. It took the entire day and I managed to do nothing but delete the dreck that I couldn’t figure out how to fix. I actually made the damn thing shorter and I think worse. You cannot (read: I cannot) write a book without using the word “was”. Just can’t do it. At a workshop I attended over the weekend someone asked the question, “but you can write a book using passive voice can’t you?” to which the response was, “sure but no one will want to read it.” It was like someone took a giant pin to my balloon.

But then I said to hell with all of them I’m just going to write as I was. I have no problem trying to make the writing better but I can’t write with nothing in mind than seeking out and destroying all the passive voice. So today, when I had the entire afternoon and I’m almost falling asleep, I managed to get the flash drive out of the purse. But I can’t make myself put it in the computer. I feel like a little kid that crosses her arms, pushes out her bottom lip and says, “You can’t make me.”

How about you? Ever feel like giving up? Just chucking it all into the garbage (or recycle bin) and saying to hell with it all? And how the hell am I ever going to get this done? At this rate, I won’t have it done by the end of next summer nevermind the end of this one!

15 thoughts on “I Don’t Wanna!”

  1. Beth says:


    I am never going to write a novel, but I had to write a master’s thesis – 100 pages long with 169 annotated footnotes. I never thought I’d do it, it took forever and it was like pulling teeth to get me to sit down and write. One thing I learned was just put something down. You can’t edit a blank page. So even if it is total crap it is better than nothing and it is a place to start. Write naturally, do a stream of consciousness if you have to, there will always be time to worry about tense, and commas, and dangling modifers later. I have faith in you Terri – keep at it.

  2. Quantum says:

    Terri, just write what you would like to read.
    If you like it, I reckon I would too!

  3. TiffinaC says:

    Stop listening to other people! Just write the damn book… You need to get away from everyone’s opinion on how it should be done, and just do it how you want! worry about the mechanics later.

    Writing is about rewriting…keep saying that! it’s the truth….and don’t stop writing! I am dying for bryan’s story…Hell I want bryan for myself.

  4. I agree with everyone, Ter: Keep Writing. I had no issues with anything I’ve read of yours so far. And the active voice is, I think, something that can wait for another day. I actually get jarred out of reading sometimes because the author is so obviously reaching for the active voice-see it is hard!lol. Good luck!

  5. terrio says:

    For the record, this was not a ploy to have everyone shoot sunshine up my arse. I was simply stating the state of writing affairs at this juncture. I cannot stop writing this story now since I could in no way justify the money I’ve spent on this endeavor if I do. LOL! Way to practical for that as Hellion would say.

    But the enthusiasm is seriously lacking at this point. It might just be where the story is. I think it’s stalled a bit. I need to pick it up. I’m in a bit of a good mood tonight which will hopefully carry over into tomorrow. And I find I have a three hour layover in the Charlotte airport Friday so perhaps that change of scenery will be great inspiration to do more writing.

    Now, thank you all for the wonderful words. Just when I start to take for granted how great you are there you go being fantabulous!

    Love you all!

  6. Look at it this way Ter: If you didn’t go through periods of waning enthusiasm you’d never have good material for a keynote speech. Plus EVERYBODY wants to close shop sometimes. Luck!

  7. Janga says:


    In the introduction of Bird by Bird, my favorte book on writing, Anne Lamott writes of her students:

    “I tell them they’ll want to be good right off, and they may not be, but they might be good someday if they just keep the faith and keep practicing. And they may even go from wanting to have written something to just wanting to be writing, wanting to be working on something, like they’d want to be playing the piano or tennis, because writing brings with it so much joy, so much challenge. It is work and play together. When they are working on their books or stories, their heads will spin with ideas and invention. They’ll see the world through new eyes. Everything they see and hear and learn will become grist for the mill. At cocktail parties or in line at the post office, they will be gleaming small moments and overhead expressions: they’ll sneak away to scribble these things down. They will have days at the desk of frantic boredom, of angry hopelessness, of wanting to quit forever, and there will be days when it feels like they have caught and are riding a wave.”

    Listen to Lamott and know that more wave-riding days lie ahead.

    Also, not every use of “was” or “is” is passive voice. “To be” is an intransitive verb; it doesn’t have voice. Some writers overuse “to be,” often burying stronger verbs elsewhere in their sentences, but this flaw is not the same thing as passive voice. Anyway, neither of these problems should concern you in the first draft stage.

    Another of my favorite bits of advice comes from poet William Stafford, a National Book Award winner (and a friend of EJ’s father, Robert Bly):
    “Lower your standards and keep writing.”

    You can always raise your standards and worry about passive verbs when you start the revisions.:)

  8. terrio says:

    You always have the perfect sources, Janga. Thanks for that. I guess knowing I’m not in this boat alone and this is part of the natural progression does make it feel better.

    After reading all of these I really do feel like writing today. I’ve figured out that part of my problem is that I don’t like this current chapter. So, a change of direction and I should be right back on track.

  9. This is why a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I don’t think many great writers read “how to” books before they started and stumbled and eventually soared. Of course, what do I know? I’be been pecking away now without publication for a while. But I think to graft all this “knowledge” onto your first book is a mistake. Just write. You can fix stuff later. It will get easier in time and you’ll recognize immediately when you’re going south.

    The only thing I’ve gotten so far is that back story is a killer and you should have as much action as possible….but then I read stuff where the author has completely ignored this advice and SOMEBODY published it. I’m almost beginning to think it’s all luck and smoke and mirrors. At least that’s how I’m justifying my rejections, LOL!

    You have an intriguing premise and all the snippets I’ve read make me want to read more. Keep at it…and to think you can actually write at work…I am so jealous. I haven’t been writing much and I’ve got the summer off! I’m claiming jet lag right now (woke up at 10:30 this morning…unheard of). Tomorrow is another day.

  10. david santos says:

    Thanks for your work and have a good day

  11. MsHellion says:

    You will get it done. WRITE IT. Don’t ever think otherwise!

    You’re having the doldrums. Sagging Middle Blues. You’ll get past it. It takes awhile, but you’ll get past it.

  12. midwestgal says:

    Terri – just write what comes from you. I haven’t written a novel but I’ve written a “makes one insane” dissertation and you got it right – can’t correct/change a blank piece of paper. I know that feeling though, of refusing to open the file, mind drawing a blank, the anxiety – you name it. Once I started throwing things on paper, that’s when things would get moving.

  13. terrio says:

    David – thanks for stopping by.

    Hellion – is that what this is called? I am going to do this. Really. I am. Maybe…

    MWG – you are always so sweet. I know you’re right. I just have to put the words on the paper. And this is much better than a dissertation anyday. Thanks for the perspective.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Needless to say, Janga hit it with her response. Word of advice from Mary Balogh (and I am paraphrasing in a big way) she says to step away from it all – the advice books, critique partners and groups and just write. Write and then write some more. The polishing comes later.

    I seem to write like you to in that I edit as I go along or I write then go back and see if I have all the elements I’m supposed to have. It’s done nothing for me but held me back.

    Now is the time to go forward. Get that story on the page and revise the heck out of it…if need be.

    ‘Nuff said!

  15. terrio says:

    Moving forward it is, Santa. I went back and fixed the things that were wrong with chapter 7 and it was like I could exhale. The characters were just saying all the wrong things and now they are saying the right things and we all feel better.

    It feels like I’ve been on this chapter for years. LOL! I think I might actually get to the next one before the end of the week!

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