Scratching your head over the definition of a Snallygaster?
I have a fondness for beasties of a cryptozoological nature which is why I’m trotting out this dragon-like creature today. German settlers brought tales of the Snallygaster from the Old Country to Maryland when they first settled the area in the 1700s. Although reports continued into the 1930s, 1909 was the year of “The Great Snallygaster Hunt.” There were so many sightings in 1909, that the Smithsonian Institution offered a reward for monster’s capture, and Theodore Roosevelt almost cancelled an African safari in order to hunt it.
So why am I discussing a cryptid on a writing blog? I mean…aside from the fact that “Snallygaster” is an awesome name (say it a few times and you’ll see what I mean).
As authors, we each have our own Snallygasters, those sneaky hurdles and loopholes that creep into our writing routine. Lately, I’ve been on a never-ending hunt, chasing down deadlines, word counts, story ideas, and misbehaving characters. There is so little time to celebrate achievements. Yes, we send up a fist-pump when we meet a deadline, finish a draft or ship off a manuscript, but do we savor those victories as we should? And they are victories. We’ve bested the Snallygaster, but we know there is another lurking in the corner. Snallygasters are everywhere, beckoning us to chase them.
In the last month, I have met a deadline, zipped through copy edits, content edits, and galleys. I was still in galley mode when the detail sheets for my next book arrived. O! M! G! My mindset was still on book one, but suddenly I had to start thinking about marketing material for book two.
Ideas eluded me for days, until I finally nailed down a barebones plot. But I’d no sooner sent that information to my publisher than one of my characters misbehaved and rewrote their role. Sigh Somewhere, I hear the Snallygaster laughing. Probably chortling. Maybe dancing to Can’t Touch This by M.C. Hammer—all while I’m having a minor meltdown.
Now it’s time to write the opening of book two and ideas that were my friend a week ago are romping away like the Snallygaster, eluding capture. Beginning a new project is hard. Completing a project is hard. When it comes right down to it, there isn’t any easy aspect of writing and finishing a novel. Or of the writing profession in general.
We constantly hit speedbumps, sometimes even roadblocks, but trudge on regardless. Just like the people of 1909 who engaged in the Great Snallygaster Hunt, we refuse to back away from the challenge.
Wrestling with plot threads, vomiting word count to make a deadline, arguing with our characters, editing-revising-editing-revising until we can’t see straight—this is what we do. We’re writers and authors. It’s the life we’ve chosen. Which means there will be many more Snallygasters along the way.
How do you overcome your hurdles? What is it that you love about writing that keeps you jumping through hoops and battering down roadblocks? What do you do when you’re up against a deadline or a character changes direction halfway through your manuscript? Do you have tricks you employ when you need motivation?
Grab a beverage, sit for a spell, and chat writing with us. Tell us about your Snallygasters and how you overcome them those pesky beasties.