Elinor Teele: “Being a Writer” + The Treasure of Mad Doc Magee Blog Tour

Today, we’re kicking off the official blog tour for The Treasure of Mad Doc Magee by Elinor Teele. Keep reading for a guest post from Elinor, plus learn more about the book, check out the blog tour schedule, and more.

Being a Writer
by Elinor Teele

It’s a stinking hot day in New England. Forecasters are gleefully posting triple digits. The old chicken coop where I write lacks air conditioning. And I am stuck. To the chair.

I’m due to send my goddaughter an installment of a new book and I’m one month behind on a self-imposed deadline. I know where I’m going; I just don’t know how I’m going to get there.

There’s little joy in this part of storytelling. You construct two paragraphs and delete three. You decide upon a character’s action and then realize that it contradicts a key assertion in the previous chapter. You select a verb with critical care—and then remember that there is no guarantee that anyone beside your Mum will ever give a rat’s posterior.

In the meantime, you attempt to ignore the statistics about the decline of reading, and the death of books, and the impossible odds of crafting a work that matters.

And you fail. Day by day, hour by hour, you watch your bank balance shrivel and the weeds explode while your work continues to fall short of what you know it could be.

For a while, I didn’t realize this process was normal. It took me a long time to accept that my writing life was not going to be a three-act narrative with a clear arc of triumph and a Tom Cruise fly-by. Instead, it’s usually Groundhog Day all over again. The sole thing that changes is the air temperature.

Once I understood this, I was able to face the blank page. But it’s still not easy. Art is maddening and it’s marvelous and it’s hard, unending thought. Kids sometimes ask me about being a writer and I tell them straight: “Don’t write because you like it; write because you must.”

But sitting here, stuck to the chair, watching the mosquitoes sweat, I’m beginning to think this answer is too pat. Because there’s something else that keeps me going.

It’s the feeling I had when I finished the first draft of The Treasure of Mad Doc Magee. It was a quiet day in spring and I’d spent the last six months slogging up a mountain. I knew my story wasn’t perfect. I knew I could do better. And, for one euphoric moment, I didn’t care. I’d breathed new life into the world. I’d given two friends time to love and fight and grow. That’s a rare happiness.

So here’s my new answer, the one I’d tell any young person who is looking for a reason to keep going: Only create. Invent and imagine and you will have made the best of yourself. And try not to worry about the rest. Failure may be the price of creation, but oh, what a small price to pay.

The small, run-down town of Eden is the only place Jenny Burns has ever called home. The roots of the trees are in her bones, the air of the mountains is in her breath, the lakes and rivers are in her blood. And that’s why, when her father loses his job and tells Jenny that they may have to move on from Eden, she knows she can’t let that happen.

The fever of New Zealand’s Central Otago gold rush still runs in the veins of Eden, and everyone knows the legend of Doc Magee: how he found the largest gold nugget anyone had ever seen and hid it somewhere in the hills before he disappeared. Jenny and her best friend, Pandora, know that if they can find the gold it’ll solve all their problems. But the way is fraught with mysteries, riddles and danger—and those are just the threats they know about. Before her quest is over, Jenny will have to face challenges from within as well as from without.

Elinor Teele is the author of The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin (Walden Pond Press, ISBN: 978-0062345103) as well as a playwright. She graduated with a PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2005. Elinor lives with her family in New England. You can visit her online at www.elinorteele.com.

Monday September 10

Novel Novice

Wednesday September 12

Book Monsters

Friday September 14

Walden Media Tumblr

Saturday September 15

Maria’s Melange

Monday September 18

Writer’s Rumpus

Thursday September 21

Bluestocking Thinking

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