Open the Bag

Bag ShotRecently, I watched many of the A&E adaptations of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels. One of the main characters—Archie Goodwin, a private investigator played by Timothy Hutton—said a phrase over and over: “Open the bag.” I love that phrase. It means “spill your guts” or “confess.” It’s a much more interesting way of saying to someone, “Tell me everything.” But language is what makes the series and its print form so engaging.

ccd5d7549b6ad3f8f9addfb64b5243d9 Nero Wolfe

I’m going to open the bag (just a bit mind you) about writing and life. So here goes. Several people have asked me when they’ll see my young adult novel about elves. Short answer: I don’t know. It’s currently in review at two publishers. I don’t know what will happen to it at either place. I can say what I hope. But that’s probably already obvious to you.

Waiting is nerve wracking, isn’t it? I can’t help thinking of something Captain Wentworth said in my favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion: “I am half agony, half hope” (Austen 225). I won’t go into why he said that, since the resolution of the main conflict hinges on the why. But I can relate to the sentiment.


I have another young adult novel that I’m wondering what to do with. It needs editing for one thing. Having seen some of the wonderful covers that Jason Pedersen has done for Charles Yallowitz and Ravven has done for several people, if I go the indie route for it or any other novel, I’ll need some cash to pay for a cover by either of these fine artists. They’re certainly worth it. Click on their names to get to their websites and see for yourself.

Which brings me to another subject. There are several authors I’d love to interview. But I haven’t set up any interviews lately because of a funds shortage. With interviews, I like to give away a copy of an author’s work. This is a deliberate choice I make whenever I interview someone. Buying a copy of an author’s book to give away is my way of saying, “I support you, Author.” I’ll let you know when I return to regular interviews. Those are always fun for me.

Being in this state has taught me to avoid taking even $5 for granted. Here’s a video by Ricky over at Stewdippin that best describes life for me right now:

There. If you were hoping for something more salacious, I’m sorry to disappoint. But I feel better for having opened the bag. I’m going back to my middle grade fantasy novel now. I’m in revision mode on that. It’s slow going, but I’m enjoying it. My Pinterest inspiration boards have certainly blossomed as a result. 🙂

Thanks for listening!

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. New York: Signet Classic/New American Library, 1964. First published in 1818. Print.

Book cover from Goodreads. Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin from Pinterest.

36 thoughts on “Open the Bag

  1. Thanks for opening the bag. Is struggle a type of baggage or a survival rucksack, filled with useful tools and maps? It certainly feels like we’re dragging shit around, but I feel it’s important. I’d rather not struggle.I’m sure I’d be just as creative. I don’t believe in the Van Gogh poverty myth, the one that says ‘he wouldn’t have been so creative if he’d had sold some of his paintings.’ Being poor sucks anywhere, anytime,especially in this turbo-capitalist society. But here’s the thing, rich, poor or somewhere in between, if we write, then we write. NO MATTER WHAT. It’s easier if you’re sitting on a fat bank balance and don’t have to do other stuff to survive, but if you really want to write, you’ll say ‘fuck it. I’m gonna do it anyway.’
    The great thing about writing is that we can make something from nothing. If you have nothing make something from it. If you’re lonely, poor, unwanted, unsuccessful – write about that! I’m sure you’ll have an audience of millions!
    It’s a grind. But open the survival rucksack and see what’s inside. You never know, you might find something essential you’ve been carrying around all this time. Something that nourishes you and others. Good luck and thanks for sharing the load!

    • Van Gogh’s story always depressed me. I couldn’t even bear to watch the episode on Doctor Who that featured Van Gogh more than once.

      I wish the bag was a survival rucksack. Maybe I’ll see it that way. I’d have maps, a flashlight, some chocolate bars, a few graphic novels, several other books, bottled water, a compass, a good pillow, and a few journals. Good pens and sharp pencils would also be included.

      Some days I wish I didn’t struggle. But I agree with you: being poor sucks. When I worked full time I managed to crank out novels. I left home at 6 a.m. and returned home at 7 p.m. I could write longhand on the train. I didn’t worry about money, so I could experiment with novels without feeling desperate. But I didn’t really pour myself into my characters’ emotional states. I couldn’t feel their desperation, because I was not desperate. Actually, they weren’t all that desperate. They were comfortable too. I feel their pain because I more readily allow them to feel pain.

      • I think you have to trick yourself into not caring too much! Good luck. When I’m rich I’m going to set up a fund for struggling writers… one that pays them to shut up and write. 🙂

  2. The struggle is definitely real. Though I think I’ve just become cheap in my old age due to being the one to cut back more than others. Anyway, good luck with the publishers and thanks for the shout outs.

    • Thanks, Charles. I’ve also become very cheap. When I was a kid, I wondered why my parents weren’t always trying to buy bags of candy or comic books. I vowed to be able to do both when I became an adult. Chocolate is expensive as are comic books nowadays.

      • I remember constantly owing my dad my allowance for comics and video games. I’d want, he’d buy, and I wouldn’t get my weekly pittance until the debt was gone. Chores didn’t change that either. So I’ve definitely become better. Still enjoy an occasional, one item splurge from time to time.

      • Ha! I also borrowed from Dad! But you know what? I’m glad I never stopped wanting to buy comic books. I was afraid I would outgrow them. Nothing doing. But I also have to wait till I can afford ’em. I let my subscription to GameInformer lapse because of that. I’ve been borrowing issues from friends though. 😀

      • I stopped when I didn’t like the stories. Well, college money restrictions hit me first and then I returned to find a big change that I didn’t like. I didn’t even know GameInformer was still around.

  3. Thanks for opening the bag, L Marie. When I open the bag I’m usually surprised how many friends are feeling the same way I am/have felt the way I’ve felt in the past. Good luck with your books. I’ve struggled with money and finances a lot in the past. I would love to write full time but that wouldn’t be a struggle, it would be a hardship. So, I keep working by day and writing by night. And have faith that it will all be revealed.

    • Thank you for your encouragement. I opened the bag, because Ricky first opened his bag. It’s funny how doing that reminds others that they’re not alone in the struggle. So thank you. 🙂

  4. I wish you the best of luck with those publishers, Linda! Half agony, half hope is a great way to describe what writers go through every step of the process. You’ve inspired me to open the bag, if even just a peek, so I think I’ll work on something to post in the next week or so.

  5. How exciting that you have a novel being by two publishers! Okay, maybe not so exciting right now since you’re waiting and have no idea when a decision will be forthcoming. I had stopped submitting my writing a long time ago because the waiting often felt worse than the rejection ;). I think you could continue to do author interviews without buying their book. The interview itself is support. I’ve had authors approach me to do interviews knowing full well I haven’t read their work. They still want the exposure that an interview can bring.

  6. Funny I should read this right now. I just had a conversation with a friend, who was going on and on and on about how sad she was that she wasn’t home this spring to see her daffodils in bloom. I’m afraid I “kinda sorta lost it” when I said “but, B, you were in Holland at the time for the tulip festival”. Sigh. Different bags for each of us.
    Waiting is horrid and I am sorry that you have to endure this agony. While I don’t write/publish, I empathize for we go through some of this often with my husband’s design work. I hope it helped you just a wee bit to have “opened the bag” of your writing life.

  7. Fingers crossed one of those publishers will smarten up and take your book. I want to read it.

    I was thinking about you today. I have one of your crocheted flowers on my bedroom dresser. Given that it was 104 when I got in the car, I was wishing for chilly temps and my gifted yarn creations.

    • I was thinking about you too, Andra. I heard how horrible the temperatures are your way. I feel for you guys! We’re finally getting some higher temperatures here!

      Sending cooling thoughts your way. 🙂

  8. My fingers are crossed too that one or both of those publishers will say yes! And even without the giveaways, your interviews are great and you should keep doing them. I mentioned your blog and interview with Cordelia Jensen at her launch party in New York City.

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