Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tenacity

By Andrea Grigg


Tenacity.

What comes to mind when you read that word? A dog with its teeth bared in a growl as it pulls on a rope? A limpet on a rock? Incy-Wincy spider?

How about a writer bent over a laptop?!?

Writing (no matter which genre) is not for the faint-hearted, or so I’ve discovered. And having said that, take a look at this. I laughed out loud when it popped up on Facebook recently …



Oh, yeah, that’s me alright! Now, back to the point I’m trying to make.

My first novel poured out of me like lava down a mountain. I relished the planning process (I’m a plotter for sure) and spent hours researching and making folders full of images and research notes.

I fell in love with my characters; I delighted in the way they told me what to write and changed the dialogue right under my fingertips. I even savoured the editing process, chopping and rearranging sentences and words a gazillion times, thrilled when my ‘baby’ was finally mature enough to appear in public.

So what happened this time?

Again, I love my characters to bits. I know them inside out and back to front – ask me anything about them and I can tell you. My files are full of interesting facts and pictures. During the editing process I’ve had a blast getting rid of thousands (yes, thousands!) of words because the story is so much better without them.

I’ve been in the zone, hidden in my cave, delighted in being in a parallel world … but it has taken for-ev-er.

I’ve literally growled at my laptop and figuratively thrown it away. I’ve been kept awake at nights by an elusive phrase, paragraph or scene, and then fallen asleep over the keyboard the next day. (One time I ended up with half a page of ‘k’s when I dozed off. Some clever person suggested they should’ve been ‘z’s …)

I have sniffed, sighed and seethed with frustration, and vented via FaceTime with my wonderful writing buddy across the Tasman. While she deserves a national holiday named in her honour, I should be awarded a PhD in procrastination. It got so bad I even did the dusting!

Why was it a worthwhile experience, one I'd be happy to repeat?

Because it taught me perseverance (a character trait mentioned in 2 Peter 1:5).

Because I now really appreciate and empathise with other writers about the effort needed to produce a book.

Because I now know that my passion for writing has been tested and tried and has cemented its place in my heart.

I’ve had to be tenacious as a reader, too. I’ve been tempted to give up on a book and then been so pleased I haven’t because it delivered in the end. I love reading really long books, and that requires tenacity. I belong to a book club, and although the recommended book isn’t always my thing, it’s been good for me to persevere because it broadens my horizons.

So what part does tenacity have in your life as a writer or a reader? When have you had to grit your teeth and battle on regardless? I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

About Andrea Grigg

Andrea writes contemporary romance. Her second novel Too Pretty will be released on August 1 by Rhiza Press. Her first novel A Simple Mistake was a finalist in the CALEB Awards 2012

Andrea would love to hear from you via her website or Facebook page:
http://www.andreagrigg.com/
https://www.facebook.com/author.andreagrigg

16 comments:

  1. Thanks Andrea, I could visualize myself in my 'cave' doing all of the above! Most of us live in this incredibly fast pace of life and we expect instant solutions to problems. But writing contradicts this. To produce a work of good worth requires a careful plod, and a willingness to back track or be led down an entirely new path. I agree, this all takes great tenacity. I wonder if this is a gift of the Holy Spirit? :)

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    1. Hi Susanne - I have to agree with your comment concerning the pace of life! It's also true that nothing is instant for me and my writing process; I'm definitely a 'plodder' aka 'plotter'. I also think tenacity is up there with common sense as far as the gifts go! Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. Oh Andrea, you are not alone! How that made me laugh, thinking of you drooling onto the key board....just kidding. I have agonised just as the pictures suggest. We writers need to keep at it - thanks for the reminder.

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    1. (Just for the record, I didn't drool, lol) And as far as tenacity goes, you've proved time and time again you have it. It's all in the timing ... ;)

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  3. Dusting? What's dusting? Something I avoid with great tenacity?

    I spoke in church on Sunday, comparing our walk with God with learning a musical instrument (in my case, the tenor horn). We've got a concert this weekend, and it's taking great tenacity to get a couple of pieces right. The funny part is that the piece most of the band is having trouble with I got my part down right with no problem at all.

    Writing can be the same. Sometimes it's easy ... but those other times ...

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    1. Music, art, writing ... they all need tenacity don't they? And it's true; the part we find hard, others sail through and vice versa.

      Secretly, I suspect ironing is on par with dusting for many of us.

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  4. Andrea, I loved your line: " it poured out of me like lava down a mountain." I had a similar experience with my first manuscript and have found the follow up significantly more difficult. One of the aspects to this experience for me was that I kept trying harder and harder to get the words down, make the plot work, etc, etc until it dawned on me that I have a co-collaborator and a pretty useful one at that - the creator of the universe. So I've been giving Him a lot more space and with perseverance am seeing some daylight at the end of the tunnel.

    Being tenacious has allowed me to lean on Him more and more which has been a great learning for me.

    Lovely post, Andrea, and all the very best with the next steps re: your second novel.

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    1. Thanks Ian. Glad you liked the lava line. I've used it in 'Too Pretty' but for a different emotion - relief. I think it works well!

      As far as leaning on God is concerned ... I was having a conversation with Him once when I was struggling over this writing thing, and said,'Why would you even be concerned about my little offerings?' And the scripture shot straight back, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' (John 1:1) I think we can safely say God is the perfect person to go to with our writing woes!

      Thanks for your comments, Ian.

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  5. Beautiful post, Andrea. I loved that pic... especially 'sobbing' at the end. Oh my! I hear you. :)
    And I know that beautiful soul from across the Tasman. She deserves the Order of Australia!

    I think all authors keep their teeth clenched in the battlefield of writing. I know I do. Tenacity is a good addition to our writing gifts. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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  6. I was wondering why my jaw ached! Thanks Dotti.

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  7. Andrea, great post! Tenacity is an essential writing skill/trait if we want to finish our book, and if we aspire to write the best possible book.

    For me, right now, tenacity means writing at least 1000 words, preferably 1500+ words, every day, no exceptions. It doesn't matter if I feel like writing or not, or if putting the words on the page feels as painful as pulling teeth, I need to achieve this word count goal every day for the next few weeks to stay on top of my deadlines.

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    1. That's amazing, Narelle, and definitely worth blogging about once you've done it! I'd love to know how you crank out that many words per day, especially when you're not so inspired, or just plain had it! I think I'll dub you the Queen of Tenacity :)

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  8. Hi Andrea,
    You captured the sort of tenacity that's required, that's for sure. It's interesting how different books, even by the same author, may require different mindsets to complete. I'm looking forward to 'Too Pretty' and realise it's not long to wait now.

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    1. Paula, you're an author of a number of books and I'd be interested to know how easy/hard they were for you to write. I imagine some needed more tenacity than others, or perhaps it was only parts of them? Do tell!

      Yes, only a few weeks until 'Too Pretty' is released. Exciting times!

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  9. Great post. Thanks Andrea. Hope your new book does well for you. As a reader I am not tenacious. The only times I have not been enjoying a book and have decided to still keep reading, I still feel the same at the end and wished I had not wasted my time. Now I just give up if it's not grabbing me as a reader.

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  10. Hi Dale. Yes, it's such a shame when we don't enjoy a book. As a writer, I'm very aware people are giving up their precious time to read my work. I owe it to them to do my absolute best and make sure I hold their interest. A major responsibility of a writer. Thanks for stopping by :)

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