Hanging in the Balance

The editors at Zoetic Press are writers in their own right. We understand the emotional risk of submitting your work to a market and the accompanying crush of disappointment when that work is rejected. We also understand the tremendous amount of work that goes into crafting the pieces that we send out.

To me, writing a story is like making a meal. I can write something in five minutes that will get the basic facts together, but nobody is going to be impressed. I can write something in five hours that will be lovely and satisfying, but will be consumed in ten minutes. The amount of work put into the finished product is far greater than the amount of time it takes to consume, and because of that, the amount of appreciation it receives.

With this knowledge, finding time to devote to writing is doubly difficult, especially with long-form writing like novels, where the amount of time devoted to finishing a project can be measured in years, rather than hours. When your project has been dragging on for months, how do you justify sitting at that computer rather than putting in another load of laundry, or running to the grocery store for milk and bread, or fishing the dust bunnies out from under the bed?

We just moved into a new house. There are still so many boxes in the garage that we can only park a single car in it, and even then, there’s stuff tightly packed around it. And yet I haven’t had the bandwidth to take out a single box and unpack it.

The novelist James Salter, who passed away this past Friday at the age of 90, said that if a writer is still being read 20 years after death, they’ve achieved something noteworthy. That might be the only reason that I stay in my chair, writing and re-writing until I’m satisfied with the result. It’s because I am just delusional enough to think that at some point, I will have enough of a body of work out in the world that someone will still be looking at it after I’m dead.

What keeps you writing? What motivates you when outside praise is scarce? I’d love to hear how you cope with the loneliness and uncertainty inherent in being an author.


lise-quintanaLise Quintana is the publisher behind Zoetic Press. She is also the author of four million short stories and commands a herd of robot servants who wrangle her dust bunnies.