by Rebecca LeBoeuf
Even the most well-known authors face challenges when writing. Between the editing, the motivation and the time constraints, take a look at what challenges best-selling authors Toni Blake, Chris Bohjalian, Janet Evanovich, Tess Gerritsen, Sy Montgomery, Gwyn Hyman Rubio and Dee Dee M. Scott face when it comes to writing and how they overcome them.
Toni Blake: It’s really the same challenge over and over again – turn out the best book you can, every time. In commercial fiction, we write at a pretty rapid pace. I put out a book every six to eight months, and I actually used to write much faster than I do now, but I choose to take a little time off between books now to “refill the well.” When you make a career of this, you can face the danger of reaching a place where you’re just “phoning it in.” So I’d say my biggest challenge at this point in my career is to make sure I fall in love with every book I write and give it as much care and attention as I have every previous book. I also find that the challenges change as your career progresses. If you’d asked me this question five years ago, I’d have given an entirely different answer. Ask me again in five years, and I’m sure I’ll have something new to say.
Chris Bohjalian: It changes book to book. But I always hate reviewing the copy-edited manuscript. THAT is an innermost ring of “Dante’s Inferno.”
Janet Evanovich: For me, it’s the morning walk up the stairs with my cup of coffee. It’s usually at about 6 a.m., so I still have a few cobwebs that need to be cleared. However, once I turn on the computer and review what I’ve written the day before, I’m ready to go. This may sound weird, but I take that blank computer screen as a welcome challenge each day.
Tess Gerritsen: The toughest part of writing is just sitting still long enough to produce my pages. I get sidetracked so easily and can be distracted by just about everything. What’s also tough is juggling all the other things that come along with a writing career, from promotional tours to correspondence. Perhaps if I could hide in a cave for a year, the writing would be easier.
Sy Montgomery: Too often I am intimidated by my own material. I think: I’m not good enough for this. I’ll screw it up. I AM UNWORTHY! But at these times, I don’t pretend to believe in myself. Instead, I believe in my teachers — the animals and people I met along the way. I trust in those teachers when I can’t trust in myself. I can’t believe in myself all the time (who can?) but I can always count on the animals, and they give me the strength and courage to go on — through anything.
Gwyn Hyman Rubio: As I grow older, I’m less driven than I once was. Writing is a lonely, solitary profession, and before I die, I’d like to spend more time with real people than I do with my imaginary friends. I have written and shelved so many books that I find it harder and harder to spend years on a work of fiction, only to shelve it later.
Writing is a tough profession, made tougher by the merger of independent houses into corporations that value mostly the bottom line and the opinions of the bean counters. Hopefully smaller, independent houses like Ashland Creek Press will become more visible over time and be able to fill the void (which the big corporate houses have created) with well-written, imaginative, risky books, valued not for their huge sales potential but for their literary quality. Therefore, I try to remain hopeful about the publishing side of the business and have decided to write as long as the creative process continues to bring me joy.
Dee Dee M. Scott: Currently, the challenges I face involve making the time to write the new stories. I wrote a lot of my books years ago. Now, I have new stories. I stay consistent. I write every day. I get up earlier or go to bed later, but I always write at least a chapter or two daily.