Writing Through the Valleys

We, as writers, have a special brand of demons to live with. Sometimes we read what we have written and smile because we know it really is good. Yeah, it needs tweaking and cleaning up, but it’s damned good.

While trying to figure out how to reveal a plot point that comes into play later, this old monk popped up. He not only solved the problem I had been battling with, but he revealed a few other things, which are very important. I love it when that happens.

Excerpt from Paladin’s Pride

Brother Miron Alberind stood up from prayer with great difficulty. Thankfully, the monastery was populated with a great many old men with bad knees and the leaders of the church had mercy on them. The prayer cushions placed behind the benches made kneeling for a long time bearable. Some of the more fervent worshippers insisted prayer should be painful. It brought one closer to God and reminded everyone they should live lives of sacrifice and pain. Brother Henecks was just such a man. He snorted as Alberind clutched at the bench in front of him and pulled himself up, knees creaking and popping in protest as he did so.

“Perhaps God would heal your knees if you would sacrifice more to him and kneel upon the stone,” Henecks scolded. “He honors pain and sacrifice.”

“He honors prayer and thanksgiving from a faithful heart. Life is painful enough, brother, I will find my comforts where I may.”

“I am telling you—“

Alberind made a sign of blessing on the skinny old man who peered at him with eyes hidden under great bushy eyebrows that jutted out like snow-covered ledges. “Yes, brother, I know. Pain and sacrifice.” He felt slightly guilty at making that particular sign of blessing over the old man because he knew Henecks had a habit of falling to his knees to give thanks for his blessing of piety he had just received. Above all, Brother Henecks wished to be known as a pious man. It seemed strange that someone who desired to be pious above all things was so elaborate in his search to be almost ostentatious.

Unfortunately, a lot of writing is forced, stilted, boring, horrible and embarrassing. So why write it if it is that bad? Because, for most of us, when you only write the good stuff, then you cease to write. Your inner critic will drag you to the depths of despair and you will stop.

You read someone you admire and long to write like them. You don’t know how many times they rewrote that book or how much was deleted before it ever saw daylight. You look at the finished product and feel small and unskilled.

For most of us, we plow through the lean times, writing drivel we hate and wait for the muse to take pity on us once again.

We all do it. We all have slow times. We all have times we want to give up. We all have times that horrid little being on our shoulder tells us how stupid we are for trying to write a book.

The following article might help those going through the valley.



  1. You know, I’ve heard that before, but it still helps so much to hear it again…and again…and again…

    I really loved the excerpt from Bird by Bird. I still haven’t read it, although I know it’s like the bible for all writers. I buy so many books on writing, and they all end up collecting dust.

  2. Caryn, yes, it is the only way to get through.

    I have a lot of books on writing also, but this one seems highly recommended by a lot of writer friends. I’m looking for a book by Orson Scott Card on characters and two writing books by Gary Provost now. Then I will settle back down to my once a month book.

    Welcome to the north forty. Enjoyed your blog very much, though I will have to pass on the spiders.

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