creative writing

A writer’s journey

In which our coast correspondent learns that the secret to publishing a novel is to never, never, never give up

Next fall will mark 20 years since we moved to the Oregon Coast. The years were some of the hardest of my life, but also the most gratifying. We came to the coast because we loved it. We’d discovered it while living in a small town in Southern Oregon that we abandoned nearly every weekend to camp by the beach. And even though we eventually moved on to Colorado, it was here that we wanted to one day land.

When the hubs got a job offer here, I didn’t see how we could say no. I was pretty sure a similar offer wouldn’t come anytime soon. But faced with leaving my job at the Rocky Mountain News, leaving my Denver friends, leaving all that a thriving city offers, this rugged landscape on the Pacific no longer seemed so enticing. Still, I believed if I wanted to focus on the writing that was important to me — fiction, creative nonfiction — I needed to go someplace where I could be quiet. I needed to take myself out of the race. As it turned out, I actually really liked that race.

Lori Tobias (right) is joined by Denver writer Sherry Spitsnaugle at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver. Tobias’s novel, “Wander,” won the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award for literary fiction.

Nonetheless, here I was. Every morning, I’d rise at 5 and go to the office to write. But the words didn’t come. It seemed everything I’d learned in many writing workshops and classes had evaporated, simply disappeared from my brain. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. Still, whether the words came or not, the rule I’d made for myself was that I had to spend time in the chair.  

A little more than a year after moving to the coast, my brave new venture seemed doomed. Despite clinging to every bit of pithy advice and encouragement — including a ceramic piece from a friend that paraphrased Churchill: “Never, never, never give up” — I seemed to be getting nowhere. Reluctantly, I decided I wasn’t meant to write fiction. It was time to give up. I made the decision with a mix of sorrow and relief. It had been my dream from a very young age. But now at least I could move on, focus on the career I was building as a travel writer.

Continues…