When It Rains, It Pours – Or Why I’m Comparing Myself to Los Angeles

by Stephen Buehler

Today it rained in Los Angele, my hometown for the past 33 years. It usually doesn’t rain. As a matter of fact we have been in a disastrous drought for at least the past 4 years. That’s a lot of time without rain. Not only did it rain today but we also we had thunder and lightning. If you’ve ever lived in Los Angeles you know how rare that is.

los angeles thunder and lightning

Am I using my first blog entry to tell you all about the LA weather? Yes – but for good reason. I’ve been a writer for most of my life but only in the last five years have I buckled down and really made a go of it. During that time I’ve had 3 short stories published, one nominated for a Derringer Award. But in the meantime I’ve been working on a PI novel, DETECTIVE RULES, on and off for the past 15 years. Along its evolution it has been sent out numerous times to agents and publishers to mostly unrequited love. But with each incarnation the novel has improved. Especially during the past two years as I put a lot of work into it.

PI icon

Along the way I’ve written a mystery novella about a magician, THE MINDREADING MURDERS for an online publisher that has been sitting on it for almost a year – financial problems they say. I’ve envisioned the magician novella as a series and am three-quarters finished the first draft of the second in the series, THE DEATH DEFYING MURDERS. During this latest writing push I’ve written several more short stories but have not been able to place any of them.

For some time I’ve felt like Los Angeles, in the middle of a long drought. I’ve done my work but I still can’t make it rain. It’s frustrating, many times I have thought if I want to keep doing all this work with a rainfall. Don’t get me wrong – I love to write. The best feeling in the world is finally coming out of a creative fog and discovering I’ve been writing for 3 hours. I love dipping into my fertile imagination and letting my brain click and create. Yes I would do it even if I never get to publish. But the thing is, I do want to get published. I enjoy creating but I also enjoy sharing. I want my cherry on top.

cherry on top

Like Los Angeles, the skies above my writing desk has opened up. One short story I’ve been trying to get published for at least a year, NO MORE, a story about a trouble teen, is finally going to be published in October by Spleck Fiction, a British online magazine. At a recent writers conference I pitched DETECTIVE RULES to two publishers and both wanted to read it. I haven’t heard back from one publisher but this week I received an email from the other saying they really liked the voice and humor but they had some problems with the character. They proceeded to give many examples of their reservations. They offered me a rewrite and resubmit and of course I said, “Yes!” They are very positive and appear to want me to succeed. A good feeling. It will be a lot of work but once again I’m sure the novel will become even better.

In another conversation a publisher is interested in my magician novellas, once I get the rights back and if accepted, they might want to publish both novellas as one book.

This all looks good, right? This is where the record on the record player scratches and stops.

record player

My job for the past 10 years, my own business, ReWriteDr, a job I love where I give writers notes on stories, feature film screenplays and TV scripts has slowed down terribly. My savings are nearly depleted. I need to get a full time job soon (or a couple of part time jobs). Either way I need to generate income quickly.

Nothing’s worse for my creativity than having the sword of uncertain financial security hanging over my head. I find it hard to focus on my writing when I’m anxious about how to pay the bills.

I’m like Los Angeles – in the middle of a drought for years. Now it’s raining. If you know Los Angeles you know it’s a city that doesn’t handle rain very well. There’s flooding, there’s mudslides, the freeways are choked with accidents.

Am I complaining? No. I’m comparing myself to a city that has been around since September 4, 1781. It has seen its share of floods, riots, earthquakes and various disasters. But it’s still around. It’s had its ups and downs. Like me and my writing life. If a city that was built on what is essentially a desert can survive for 234 years, so can I. It’s going to be hard, there will be bumps in the roads and probably a few detours but hopefully this time next year, Los Angeles and I will be expecting more rain – and I hope it’s pouring. At least that’s what the weatherman in my head is saying.

Where are you in your creative life? Is it raining, snowing, tornadoes or a drought? Is the sun drying up your creativity or are you drenched with imagination?

man standing in los angeles

Btw – I didn’t write this blog to be inspirational to others. It was purely selfish. I wrote it to give myself a needed pep talk. I think it worked.

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27 Responses to When It Rains, It Pours – Or Why I’m Comparing Myself to Los Angeles

  1. Mike Staton says:

    Good post… I like the way you linked your search for agents and publishers for your novels and short stories to the California drought. The Vegas area got a bit of that rain today, although all my neighborhood got were a few drops and some thunder boomers. The wind gusts were impressive though. Reminded me of oncoming hurricanes back when I lived along the North Carolina coast.

    Like

  2. Wranglers says:

    Great post. I really enjoyed it. I just moved to Florida and it rains every day. I love rain, so it doesn’t bother me. In WV, where I’m from they are having bad flooding. In my writing, I always have storms of ideas, my problem is time, and now that I live in a big play area, it’s even harder. I have a book I need to get finished. It is in the second draft stage, and I have 3 other books on the back burner. I hope you find a job you love, maybe in a book store, or library. It’s hard having financial problems. I took this week off to enjoy FL, but I’ll be back to work next week, driving across America. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cher’ley – I hope I too find I job I love but I’m at the place where I need to find one that brings in some money – but it will be icing on the cake if it’s one I love too. I used to work at The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles for 3 years until it closed. That was a dream job.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wranglers says:

    I have shared this on all my social media.

    Like

  4. Joe Stephens says:

    Nice analogy. And one most writers can relate to. I went a different route after two years of rejections and self-published, but I still have that tiny part of me that wants to go the traditional way and be accepted by a publisher.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe – I’ve been holding out on the PI novel as I truly want that traditional published. If I can’t get the magician novellas traditional published I’m willing to go the self-publishing route on those. Thanks for the reading the blog.
      – Stephen

      Liked by 1 person

  5. katewyland says:

    I like your drought analogy. Very apt for me too. This last year has been the weirdest of my life–among other things my husband hospitalized, 2 deaths in the family, me getting injured and having a less than successful surgery and recovery, and now our unexpected move. I just haven’t felt like writing for quite a while. I did actually read through the first few chapters of my current wip the other day, but haven’t written anything yet. I also need to get back to my own blog.

    I hope both our droughts end soon and we get lots of growth-inspiring rain.

    (I grew up in LA and now live in the SF Bay area. Well familiar with the LA fire, rain, mudslides phenomenon. Up here we tend to have more flooding. Let’s hope that El Nino actually happens this winter and we get some physical drought relief.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate – Thanks for reading the blog. I find that when I’ve been away from my writing for a while it helps me to immerse myself into what I’ve written before to get the voice back inside my head. Good luck with getting back to your writing.
      – Stephen

      Like

  6. Travis says:

    Great analogy Stephen about how life and weather have similar paths. i’m hoping the Detective Rules gets published after the rewrite as well as the Michael Black/magic series. And also, I hope you get a revenue stream coming sooner than later. Fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. sarahmchb says:

    Fantastic first post! Very inspirational, clever, and heartfelt. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the pics are great! I’m glad your pep talk worked for you – I think it worked for me too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nancy Jardine says:

    Hi, Stephen. It’s really tough when a publisher rejects a ms but great if they give you a list of things for improving it. That’s happened to me and it really did make my final published work a much better read. Unfortunately, financial issues can’t be shoved aside as easily as saying ‘given time, I will polish this manuscript’. I, too, hope that some salary earning work comes you way because even when published, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s going to be enough to live on, except when you’re one of those lucky authors who make that high ‘earning’ grade.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nancy – I’m not expecting my writing to be a revenue stream – well not for a long time. I’ll need a day job to do that. The publisher did give me a great set of notes and we’ve even gone back and forth a few times to refine them. It’s one thing to be given notes but these are encouraging notes – like she’s saying – “I really hope you can make these changes because I’d really like to publish your book.” That’s a good feeling and great way to motivate me. I give notes for a living so I know the value of following notes and how not to fight them and use them to improve what I’ve already written.
    Thank you for the encouragement.
    – Stephen

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Back in the 1970’s, there was a popular song that went something like this. “It doesn’t rain in southern California. It pours.” That’s the way my writing is once I get going.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post Steven. I think we all can relate. I’m thinking that just like the California drought, when it comes for you, it will be a real El Nino!

    Like

  12. S. J. Brown says:

    Stephen, Glad the pep talk worked we all need one every now and again. I seem to be in consistent summer shower mode. But I like summer showers, a bit subtle with just enough rain to keep the flowers happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post, Stephen, and welcome to the group! Droughts are inevitable, I believe, but when the waters come, how much more refreshing they are! As others have commented, your analogy was spot-on. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself with the rest of us. Wishing you all the best as you search for the right publishes for your works!

    Like

  14. Kim says:

    Stephen, I can totally feel your pain. It took me 14 years to write my novel and get it published. But it was worth it. And the funny thing is, right before that happened, I was in a drought just as you describe. Faith, persistence and attention to craft will pay off – I believe that. Wishing you a deluge soon! Best, Kim

    Like

  15. Doris says:

    Stephen, we are are like the weather. Sometimes it is sunny and sometimes it rains. Now being like a city, that is something worth thinking about. I enjoyed your first post and wish you well on your creative works. I have faith they will do well. Doris

    Like

  16. Neva Bodin says:

    I too, liked your analogy. We need to give ourselves pep talks more often I think, and as you shared yours, it works on others! Congrats on getting a chance to improve your novel, that is a very positive thing I’m told at conferences. Sounds like interesting novels coming from you. Welcome to our blogging family.

    Like

  17. sstamm625 says:

    I’ve been my own drought lately, Stephen. I’ve been focusing on my new job and my new home and my new city, and I’ve neglected my writing. I’m starting to get inspired to go at it again though,

    Like

  18. Kathy Waller says:

    I’m impressed. You’ve been going through a drought, but you’ve also been very productive. I hope your financial issues become non-issues soon so you can continue to concentrate on what you love to do. Best wishes for a good outcome with the rewrite. That’s exciting. Thanks for an inspiring post (even if you were the intended audience).

    Like

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