The Whirlwinds of Life

Life has been a bit of a whir since June. We sold the house, The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) released. We moved. I’ve done author events with several book clubs and library groups. We went down the shore with our daughter and her family, and some friends. Frankie D and I went up to Bar Harbor, where I did an author talk/signing at the Jesup Memorial Library (gorgeous library, amazing town.) Just this past week, my son and his girlfriend came in from Portland for a (always too brief!) visit. They flew out this morning.

In between there were reviews, and lunches with friends; a wedding, family gatherings, and, of course, setting up my new home. Writing has been sporadic at best. For me–a writer who has written most every weekday, 9-4 since 1994–it’s been unsettling, to say the least. Now, next week, I head down to Myrtle Beach, a trip I’m really looking forward to, but it’s another week of no writing, making this shortened week less than productive, too.

Or is it?

I started a new novel back in April. There are two storylines, one that takes place in 2009, the other in 1947. The stories link through two characters–young in 1947, old in 2009. It’s been a struggle to get the two storylines to play nice. I love them both, they just didn’t seem to want to fit together.

And that’s because they really didn’t. Maybe it was all the upheaval, the enforced time away from the writing of it, but this novel proved to me today that it’s actually two. One’s not a sequel to the other–they’re entirely separate novels.

I’d written over 100K words in two and a half months, and the original book was nowhere near done. In trying to integrate the novels, they were both losing something of their voice, their heart. Now I have two novels in progress, and I adore them. The 1947 novel–Thirty Days Dancing at the Edge of the World–comes first. Then St. Simon by the Sea will get its turn. The novels still connect via those two characters, but the connection won’t alter the storylines in the slightest. It’s my hope that, if a reader reads both, they’ll take on an added depth. We’ll see. Maybe I’m just spouting nonsense.

One of the reasons I decided to post this is due to a question I get, every time I do a Q&A with a reading/writing group: Do you ever get writer’s block?

I’ve come to understand that what I experienced with this book that ended up being two, and pretty much every book I have ever written, is what some consider “writer’s block.” I never quite realized that until recently, and I think it’s because I never let it actually “block” me. I chip away, come at it from different angles, and I’m not afraid to shred it all to bits. It makes me get more creative, and tenacious. Writers who hit these walls and let it stop them call it writer’s block. I call it…something else.

Writing can happen in a wave of euphoric genius of putting words on a page that we never actually remember thinking; or it can be the above chipping, shredding frustration. Sometimes, we have to work for our art. No pain, no gain? Yeah, that works.

So, no–I never suffer writer’s block. Never have. Never will. Because if I ever come to a point wherein I won’t put in the necessary effort to get past it, it’ll be because I’m done writing. Period.



Filed under Writing is Life

10 responses to “The Whirlwinds of Life

  1. We are all very lucky that your tenacity brings us wonderful books to read. Whatever your method, it’s fabulousM


  2. “a bit of a whir” – Goodness, Terri. That’s a bit of an understatement! 🙂
    I never suffer writer’s block either, even though I’ve gone through significant periods without writing. But I don’t consider those down times writer’s block. The idea that a writer MUST write ALL THE TIME seems unhealthy to me. The muse has its own rhythm, and while discipline is important, creative rhythm is as well. Striking a balance between the two is the secret to being a happy writer – and where that balance lies is different for each individual. Thank you for another thought-provoking post! Love & hugs,


  3. Carol Lovekin

    Thoroughly agree, Terri. I don’t call it writer’s block either. Now & then, for a variety of reasons, I’m ‘not writing’ – which is something else entirely. I’m thinking, planning/plotting or researching. Mulling over generally; realising (the way you did), this story needs to shift or, not get written at all because it’s the wrong story. ❤


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Yes! Sometimes, it’s just the wrong story, and spending time bashing it is no better than claiming writer’s block and letting it languish. I, personally, don’t believe in “writer’s block.” We may have had this discussion before, back in the Live Journal days. There’s fear, apathy, impatience, lack of skill/drive, but block? Just don’t buy it. That’s just my opinion, of course.


  4. Elizabeth Young

    Two books! Hooray!!


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      I’m ridiculously excited about that. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that I–GASP!–work on both at the same time, alternating between them.


  5. Yay for two books!! You were definitely not blocked, you were multi-tasking! For me, learning that using the delete key is not an act of Satanism has made a huge difference in whether or not I am “blocked.” If something’s not right, get rid of it and move on. I throw it in a slush pile document so I can refer to it if need be.

    So glad you are enjoying the new place and the time with your family. ❤


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