I’ve been having a tough time with the WIP. I’m doing revisions after an edit letter, and friends, it’s not going well. The book sucks. Why didn’t the editor just say so? I hate it when they’re so polite, like they think you can make it better. No, I cannot make it better, because maybe you didn’t hear me: The whole thing sucks. If I could have made it better, I would have done so long ago.
I should probably just delete the whole thing now and save everyone a ton of misery.
So I went looking for something to cheer me up, and what I found was 10 well-known quotes from Nora Roberts. She’s so bracing. I swear to you, that woman has never thrown herself a pity party in her life. Hearing her speak or reading her advice is like dashing ice water on your face. It makes you blink, but it brings you to your senses. And more good news: her birthday is Saturday, so you have time to get her a card.
As most of you no doubt know, Nora’s work ethic is monster. She’s written way more than 200 books (I couldn’t find a complete list, it updates so fast), which combined have spent almost 1,100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. That’s 20 years, people.
Here are some of Nora’s best-known quotes for writers. You’ll recognize some of them.
- Every time I hear writers talk about ‘the muse,’ I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job.
- The most important thing in writing is to have written. I can always fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank one.
- A writer must understand, appreciate, and enjoy whatever genre he or she is trying to write in. It’s a mistake, a really big mistake, to believe that you can write what you wouldn’t read for pleasure.
- The middles of my books are often the toughest for me to write. If the pacing flags, I deal with the problem by looking around at all my characters and figuring out which one I can kill.
- A writer never finds the time to write. A writer makes it. If you don’t have the drive, the discipline, and the desire, then you can have all the talent in the world, and you aren’t going to finish a book.
- And each book has to receive your best effort every single time. No slacking.
- If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.
- Good fiction creates its own reality.
- As a rule of thumb, I’d say one cliché per romance novel—and then be damn sure you can make it work. But if you’re going to try to write the virginal amnesiac twin disguised as a boy mistaken for the mother (or father depending how well the disguise works) of a secret baby—honey, you better have some serious skills. Or seek therapy.
- I’m not interested in telling stories about weak women … Or if they’re weak, I want to show how they grow and become strong.
The item on this list that I found most interesting was #4, how when she has trouble with the middle (I’m having trouble with the middle), she kills off a character. This is what Raymond Carver said he always did: wrote in a man with a gun. Jenny Crusie told me when her book’s in trouble, she writes in a dog.
Maybe I should kill off a character. Or two. Or most of them. And bring in a dog. Wait. I already have a dog.
Or maybe I should switch gears and write the story about the virginal amnesiac twin disguised as a boy mistaken for the mother (or father, depending how well the disguise works) of a secret baby. Yeah, the world is waiting breathlessly for that one.
Thanks for all the entertainment, Nora! And happy birthday.