12 April 2012

My Motto: Write On

I know people who think writing is easy.
It's not.  I know it, and you know it, if you've ever tried to write.  Unless, that is, you're one of those lucky few whose books read like rainbows and unicorns and every sentence is made of gold and fairy dust.  Those magical writers are as rare as a a frog prince, and ladies, we all know how rare those are.

The truth is: writing his hard.  It's trying and challenging and can wear you down.  You hate your characters and you love them.  There are days when you want to bash your computer against a wall or rip that damn blinking cursor from the screen.  There are days when there is just nothing left or everything is Crap with a capitol C.  There are days you are sure that you should never have even started this stupid novel in the first place, because you're never going to get published.

Nothing is ever the way it starts off in your head.  Sure, you have a super idea, and it's just So Amazing and no one has ever had an idea This Amazing before.  You're sure of it - this is It.  This is Your Idea and it is going to be a novel worthy of hymns.  Your novel is going to make unicorns cry and fairies fall in love and evil beings renounce their ways to follow you.  Except then you actually start writing it, and somehow your magical idea starts to fall from grace.  You saw it in your head, right?  It was So Amazing and nothing could touch it.  It was perfect, tucked away in the bubble of your head, but now that the words are hitting the word-document, you can't imagine why you ever thought this was The Idea that would earn you a statue or pantheon. 

The more you write, the more you struggle.  This idea was so great in your head - and here it is, rolling filthy in the dirt like a cat on the 'nip.  It's horrifying - you can see it now, and your despair grows more with each passing sentence.   You know why no one is worshiping you now, it's so clear to you that your idea is not worthy.  This was not what you had in mind.  This was not how your main character was supposed to act.  Why are they defying you?  Is it just for the fun of it? They were so perfect in that bubble, can't you just put them back into it?  But it's too late, and you're stuck on a spiral that is winding into an unknown land full of men with unkempt beards, ratty looking teenagers who wear their pants around their knees and not a single coffee shop in sight.

Why would anyone torture themselves like this?  I've been asked similar questions before.  Usually the conversation goes something like this:

Non Writer: So, how's the novel going? 
Me: Don't talk to me about novels! It's crap - it's all crap! I just can't DO IT anymore!  My main character is defying me at every turn and I can't control them anymore!  I just want to quit! It's not worth it!
Non Writer: So why don't you quit?
Me: I can't quit!  I can't leave them alone like that!  Their story MUST be told!
Non Writer: But it sounds like you hate it.
Me: No - I don't hate it! I love it!
Non Writer: Really? Why?
Me: Because.  I just do.

I walk away feeling great, ready to get back at it and make those characters understand that I Am Their God and they will do as I say, and the non writer walks away confused, usually shaking their head and muttering about nutters.  We've had this conversation before, and they just don't understand why I love writing so much.  I can't make them understand, so I don't.  It's a feeling, you know?  It's in your blood... or it isn't.

Here's the thing: Writing is hard, but it's also rewarding.  It's challenging and it's fun, and every sentence is a mystery.  You never know what you're going to write until you write it, all you know is you have this idea and you have to follow it through.  You're telling their story - you're the only one who can.  They spoke to you and now you have to make sure their voices are heard.  You make an outline, but you might not follow it - the characters grow and develop and take shape, their paths twisting and turning and making your head spin.  The story unfolds before you and you struggle to keep up, or maybe you whiz by, knowing just what's around the corner but not seeing it clearly until you come face to face with it.

You're exhilarated and frightened and nervous. You're at the top of a roller coaster just before it starts to tilt downwards, suspended above the world, your gut twisted into glowing knots that spit molten anticipation into your veins.  Then the roller coaster drops, and your stomach is in your throat and the world is rushing by.

There's always the idea, safe away in it's little bubble in your head, siphoning it's mysterious, glitter and kitten-infested thoughts into your fingers, urging you to Write On.  For those of us who love to write, despite all of the challenges, pit-falls and the fact that we may never, ever earn a single penny for our work, it's like a drum-beat in our blood.  Any day that we deprive ourselves of writing even a single sentence is like a day without air or sunshine or coffee.

So we Write On. We love it and hate it, we cry and we laugh, we sometimes spin gold and weave unicorns into our tales, while other times we dredge up a really nasty hairball that's been stuck in our shower-drain for months.  Those can be thrown away, eventually, and the spun gold can be woven into a saddle for the unicorns, who grow up as bright as the stars themselves.  And if we're very lucky, we can ride those unicorns through the gates of Published Authors, and actually receive validation for everything we've put ourselves through.

It's all part of the process.
It's how we roll.
Write On.

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