A Writer in Retreat

Author Sandra Scoppettone is having a dry spell or, worse,  is going through a bitter, creative depression. Either way, she’s candidly chronicling it on her blog. On June 20th, she wrote, in part:

How long has it been? I don’t know. It seems like months. It is months? Huh. Actually it seems more like a day. That’s how much I’m enjoying it. It being not writing.

On June 23rd, she wrote, in part:

I hear about the new upcoming writers and I read them.  Some are damn good.  I wish I could be part of them, in their grade, their class, so to speak.  But it’s no longer my time. That’s okay.  I had my chance.  Now, despite my wishes, which, by the way, are for the forty year old me, I don’t have any idea if I’ll publish again.  Or write again.  I’m inclined to think I’ll write, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be published. That’s not okay.  But there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

On July 21st, she wrote, in part:

I’ve been reading a lot and I have thoughts about the books I read, but this blog was meant to be about writing thoughts, as it says above.  The problem is I have no writing thoughts. […]Here’s the thing: I don’t miss writing at all.  I have no idea how long that will last.  Maybe forever.  Maybe until Labor Day. […] I know I’ve posted about publishing before.  So what more is there to say?  We all know it’s only going to get worse.

On August 3rd, she had a one-line post:

The title for the book I might write just came to me.

And then, four days later,  another one-line post:

I now hate the title.

On August 12th, she wrote:

Why am thinking about writing this book that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a few months?  What do I know about the things I’d have to include?  Who would be interested in this? 

I’ve said to myself and maybe here that I would probably start after Labor Day.  That’s 21 days away.  On Labor Day I’d be facing writing the next day. When I think of that it makes me sick.

If I start in September and don’t have interuptions (this has never happened) it’ll take me four to six months to complete a first draft.  And another one or two to rewrite.

And then what?  Give it to my agent?  She’ll hate it.  So maybe I’ll have to find another agent.  Not easy.  Or maybe my agent will decide to try and sell it.

Nobody will buy it.  Or even if somebody does it will fall through the cracks and three people will read it.

Why bother?

I’m going back to bed.

I find her posts disturbing and sad…especially since her blog used to be filled with such enthusiasm for writing. It’s unpleasant to see her in such a self-defeating, bitter retreat. And I’m not so sure it’s healthy for her career to be posting about it on her blog…then again, that’s probably exactly why she’s doing it. I hope she snaps out of her writing funk soon.

UPDATE: In addition to commenting here to this post, Sandra has also blogged about it.

5 thoughts on “A Writer in Retreat”

  1. I think you’re missing the point. My blog is called Sandra Scoppettone’s Writing Thoughts. Not Sandra Scoppettone’s Good Writing Thoughts, or positive thoughts. What I’m writing in my blog is exactly what the blog is about. Ups and downs.
    You always think that if I write something negative it’s not healthy for my career. I don’t care. I’m not playing a political game. I post what’s true for me that day.
    “self-defeating, bitter retreat” Isn’t that a little dramatic, Lee?

  2. That’s the way it comes across to this regular reader of your blog. Read your posts. They are bleak and depressing. Any admirer of yours and your books (and I count myself among them) is bound to be concerned about you.
    You say your blog is about your “ups and downs”..but for the last few months, it’s been relentlessly “down.” Even when you aren’t writing about yourself, the posts have been either about the negative experiences of other writers or your dark views about the state of publishing. Surely there are some “ups” in your writing life (or in your thoughts). If not, I sincerely hope there are soon…because we need more Sandra Scoppettone books!

  3. A careful reading of these comments suggests that Ms Scoppettone is not suffering from a crisis of confidence about her writing (which afflicts me), but from a motivational crisis. I wish her success in getting past it. For me, motivation is the easy part. It is Write or Starve; write or end up a WalMart greeter.

  4. Over on my blog I’ve wrestled with being honest vs. good PR. I want to be upbeat and helpful and make myself not look like a complete loser… but sometimes my life completely sucks and sometimes writing is a tough search through a very deep tank full of horse poo for a possible pony. I decided to strike a balance – sometimes I post things that make me look like a moron (because sometimes I am).
    I just did a post on my scrambling to snag a screenwriting job before I run out of money from the last film and end up the only guy working at McDonalds that Roger Ebert has talked about on his TV show.
    I figure it’s better for new writers to know that things aren’t always easy in this business.
    Hey, and maybe my blog will evolve into my adventures working at Mickey Ds?
    – Bill


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