Another Brick in the Wall

It’s been a while since I’ve REALLY vented here, what with my love life going so well (I love you Becky) but today is just downright ridiculous. I am frustrated to the point of tears and violence at my inability to get anything going novel-wise. Having this short story accepted only serves to make things work. The problem has never been that I’m not a good writer. I’ve had biased friends and family along with unbiased professionals tell me I have something special. The compliment my “breezy style” my “excellent dialogue” my “ear for dialogue” and my “knack for sympathetic characters.” But what good does that do me though if I can’t find the right story to tell with those skills?

I could go the rest of my life and do nothing but write short crime stories. I’d be almost guaranteed of getting most of them published, I might even crack a national market or anthology. But I want more. I want a writing career and the only way to do that is to write novels. A while ago I thought all I would write would be novels. My first few attempts at short stories had failed miserably and I finished my first novel long before I finished my first good short story. But mostly it’s the challenge. I don’t want to shy away from something just because it’s hard.

And damn is it hard. There’s so much to balance. Part of me always tells myself that other writers have made careers writing great dialogue with crappy plots. But I don’t want to write Crap Plus One. After four novels now, I know where my weaknesses are. I’ve tried to fix them and in some places compensate for the things I can’t fix, but it’s still not working. People I trust have read the current manuscript and say there’s something there. They say it’s good. I think parts of it are good but I don’t know if it can support a whole novel.

Maybe all of this is just a case of me being too hard on myself, holding myself to ridiculous standards. I’ve never been involved with critique groups or reading groups or anything like that because I always felt I had a good sense of my own writing, when it was working and when it wasn’t. I don’t think its good enough, but maybe I’m wrong. I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again, the number of times an agent will give me a look is finite, and I think I’m rapidly closing in on the end of those chances. It’s very important that the next book I send out be the perfect book for me right now. I just wonder if I’m capable of writing that book yet.

Just once I would like to finish a novel and be happy with it. So far, every time I finish a book, I’m immediately thinking of all of the places it needs work and how I’m going to fix it. I no longer crave just the feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing the book. I’ve felt that, I need something new.

I’m in love with writing novels, and so far it’s a love that’s unrequited. What do I need to do to make novels love me?