Sunday, June 22, 2014

Every Writer's Most and Least Favorite Part*

*Note: I have no idea if other writers feel the same way, the title just sounds better that way!

There are a lot of things I love about writing. The way I can send myself anywhere in space and time and universe. When my characters come to life and make me laugh or cry. That moment when I look up and realize two hours have flown by while I was engrossed.

There are a lot of things I hate about writing. The crushing feeling that my writing is not good enough. The hopeless mountain of rejections. When my characters refuse to do anything believable and creak across my landscape as cardboard cutouts. That moment when I look up and realize it's been two hours and I still haven't written a damn thing.

But one of the things I both love and hate is that first step. The beginning.

A moment of sheer terror and joy.

You've created in your mind this wonderful novel that you are going to write. You've plotted and planned it out (if you're like me!). It is going to be funny and heartbreaking and speak to our inner fears of loss and the pointlessness of life and the meaning of home and family. In your mind, it is an unputdownable masterpiece. The possibilities are endless!

Unfortunately, one of those possibilities is that what you write will in no way live up to what you've envisioned. For me, the doubt can creep in almost immediately. "That's a terrible first sentence. Where's the hook?!" you might wail. You picture a legion of readers being bored by the first paragraph and putting your book back on the shelf (but wait, that's assuming that it doesn't go straight to the circular file of every agent, editor, or publisher that looks at it!). The first scene is limp. The second is too short. You're giving too much detail, you're not giving enough.

It's maddening. While the page is blank, it could become anything. And you're so excited to start crafting, but once the page begins to fill up, reality sinks in.

But the best solution is to just push through! I'm not one who believes in the Total Shit First Draft, but I also don't believe that the work is set in stone from the first keystroke. Write something decent now, get it down there, and polish into the beauty it could be later.

I am onto the third chapter of my new novel (novel 7, it shall be known), whose very beginning is pictured above. It is still an exciting ride and I hope it remains so until the end!

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