Being a quirky writer for yourself

A wolf baying at the night. Text: Some of us writers please ourselves. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt


Especially because I may write few books in a lifetime, where the fiction push started late, and already ill when I began writing, I have to make the books count.

There will be a shelf next to my bed in the last place I live, and the books there will have to be what I wrote – and what I love.

But it’s quirky in an odd way. Either a reader will like what I write, or not be of my tribe.

That’s not so unusual: all writers have a tribe, once they’re past a certain minimum of quality that they can stand to put their name on nom de plume on.

Or they wouldn’t keep writing.

I write in blood

But I will never write to market. Never mind that I can’t – writing to market takes a lot of energy. I don’t want to.

Now that I’ve moved, I never have to write again. There are a million things even I can do in the new place, and they all take energy, and they are all a lot more fun than writing.

And then one person comes up to me at dinner, and tells me how much she loved the TV talk show scene, and I’m hooked again, on the dopamine that comes only to writers who have done their best, and have been rewarded, and have no internal regrets about skimping.

I honestly don’t want to go back and change a single word in PURGATORY. Which is good, because it would be an incredible amount of work.

But it’s also making me insecure about picking up the metaphorical pen again, because I haven’t been able to finish the one scene I’ve been working on since before we moved.

So much is riding on this scene

Plot, characters, theme – everything is going through a knot.

Everything is getting kicked up several notches.

Because the middle book in a trilogy needs that.

And I had no idea it was this one place I would have foundered for a while, no matter where I had been, until I started writing and realized how many threads I held in my hands, how many things go from before – toward the end of this book, and the end of this story, and how critical it is to get it right.

I think my subconscious knew, and my brain protected me.

So I would have time to consider what I’ve set out, fully.

I can’t wait to get to these ends, but the path has to be lit and leveled and have the right slope and the best edging and a solid underpinning of rock.

Because it leads toward high cliffs, and I would rather my characters (whom I’m very fond of) found resolution almost any other way. But there is none.

Glad I got that off my chest

And may your New Year have that kind of pull on you.

Once you get over being afraid of heights, the view can be amazing.

Over to you: what’s in store in 2019 that you can’t wait for?


20 thoughts on “Being a quirky writer for yourself

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks – and I hope you get back to writing, too. I think once the final move is over – and it is imminent – I will focus better. Stands to reason that all this disruption makes non-required things like writing harder to justify. I have a very helpful husband, but he can’t move us all by himself, and doesn’t ‘take care of’ me the way some husbands have to or choose to – neither of us would like that!


      1. acflory

        I know what you mean. Writing fiction requires an ability to immerse oneself in the story. Priority distractions make that almost impossible.
        I worry about bushfires so that preys on my mind this time of year. I’m trying to do a bit of writing first thing in the morning when I know it’s ‘safe’. Probably playing mind games with myself but I managed 600 decent words today, so fingers crossed.
        Good luck with your move. I hope the rest of 2019 gives you the peace you need to start writing again.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          We had the ‘Camp’ Fire in California – right after we moved! And our air quality was affected so that they told us not to go outside for days. Can’t imagine what the people and animals closer to the fire had to endure.


        2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          It’s one of those things you hope your body clears out – after all, our remote forbears lived around fires. But they didn’t have the same toxic substances in them that we have.

          Will probably never know for sure, but I don’t have any symptoms that might be explained by the exposure.


  1. marianallen

    “Because it leads toward high cliffs, and I would rather my characters (whom I’m very fond of) found resolution almost any other way. But there is none.” Maybe you haven’t been able to finish this scene because you’re overlooking an element. Maybe you don’t want them to find their resolution this way because it isn’t right; maybe there’s another way, a more satisfying way, a way that won’t tear Marian’s heart out and grind it underfoot??? Because I’m so afraid of that! Writers think they’re characters are dear to them because we create them, but to the readers, they aren’t creations, they’re real people. You’ve even got me pulling for Bianca, for pity’s sake! What I’m looking forward to in 2019 is reading more of your fiction. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Trust me! Have I led you wrong yet?

      Sheesh. I know I’m way behind, but the end of this story – and ALL the steps to get there in a way which will seem inevitable (I hope) – have been in place since the very beginning.

      I have no patience with wandering about, and hate ambiguous endings. Remember that: I HATE ambiguous endings.

      And when the whole is over, you will get the scene three years later which I wrote to get out of this hole.

      But I can’t send it yet – or let anyone see it – because it presumes the ending.

      I love having you to talk to about it. But NO ONE gets things before they’re finished, not even me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. marianallen

        Everything I’ve read so far makes everything feel inevitable. I might go, “If only he had said this instead of that, things would have gone differently,” but, with you, I NEVER go, “That’s stupid. He SHOULD HAVE said this instead of that.” It’s always, “If only, but OF COURSE he said that.” That’s a talent and a gift and damn hard work.


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Highest compliment! It IS hard work, and the product of ME having said over and over to other stories in my life, “he should have said this instead.”

          My internal storyteller, who is trying hard to make this story work, is fighting every other story I’ve ever read, including the ones (very few) that really worked for me.

          And I don’t know why it’s important to me, but I can’t seem to deviate from how I want it to sound, even as I work and rewrite and struggle to make it be on the page what I want it to be in my head.

          Biggest problem I’ve had as a writer is that last bit – I started working on it as soon as I started writing, and Mary Elizabeth Allen said, “Okay. Let’s get to work.” First and only fiction teacher, and she taught “Writing the Mystery,” a short course at Mercer County Community College, way back in the late 90s. I had a couple of private sessions with her, and then realized it would cost millions to fix things if I let someone else teach me, and I started learning to teach myself. But she made me aware of that distance between page and head.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. marianallen

        And I kinda hate myself a little bit for it. She’s the perfect antagonist: Not evil, just totally at odds with the goals and desires and needs and wishes of the characters I’m pulling for most. Damn, girl!


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Bianca makes choices consistent with who she has made of herself, from the little girl who was the apple of her papi’s eye. She has come very, very far. She has huge potential. And a very attuned ear. But, like the others, she isn’t always aware of what’s good for her.

          At the end, you will judge me on my treatment of all three, as it should be.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Jack "Blimprider" Tyler

    Good day to you, Alicia, and I hope the new year finds you settled. I love this! Sort of a writer’s declaration, a stand-your-ground manifesto. Do those who don’t write really get it? The Craft is something we must pursue, not because it’s easy, not even because it’s fun, but because the story demands to be told. I once said, “You don’t choose writing, writing chooses you,” and once you are chosen, your life will never be the same.

    What’s in store for me in 2019? Beyond the Rails IV, should I be able to bring it together. You see, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I can only wish you luck, as you have so often done for me. ‘Tis a lonely path we walk.

    All the best, nontheless!

    Liked by 1 person


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