Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. ~Gene Fowler

Working on a WIP (work in progress) is haaaarrrd. Seriously. I find that although writing is perfectly easy to do in short stories, it suddenly becomes a total chore when I have a three hundred-page book to write, and in my desire to get a novel out, I lose all capability for something as simple as decent sentence structure. (See what I mean?) My similes stop making sense, I forget all about description, I start comma splicing, and every character starts talking in, like, exactly the same way.

I am about three chapters from the end of my current WIP. Soooo close! It’s just pushing myself that’s the problem. I hate writing badly, but I know that if I don’t do the first draft badly, it won’t get written at all.

I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.  ~James Michener

 Who was it who said that thing about genius being 90% hard work, 10% inspiration? (Not that I’m deluded enough to think I’m a genius- I’d happily accept being called a half-wit -the quote just serves my purpose.) I’m pretty sure I’ve misquoted anyway, but you know what I mean. Right? Right?!

I have inspiration for perhaps the first two chapters of any book. And then it’s gone. Used up in the amount of time it takes me to do this. *Clicks fingers.* The rest of the book- however many years it takes me to write it -is mostly just hard work, and if I’m lucky, I’ll get the occasional spurt of enthusiasm again, every few months or so.

That’s not to say I don’t like my stories, or enjoy creating them, or even that I don’t enjoy writing. I love them. To all of the above. I can spend many a happy hour thinking about my stories and what direction I want them to go in. My characters are as real and as loved for me as any other author’s characters are for them.

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air.  All I must do is find it, and copy it.  ~Jules Renard, "Diary," February 1895

And I love writing- I love putting a new spin on old ideas and an old twist on new ones. I love similes and metaphors and cringeworthy puns. I love the surprises that get you at the end of a good book, even though in hindsight you kick yourself because you really should have seen them coming. I love poetic language to describe death and commonplace words to describe love. I love writing something horrendous so that I can sift through it to get to the good stuff, which I know I must have in me somewhere; only it’s probably deep, deep, deep down inside. Probably.

Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

But there’s something about sitting in front of a computer, seeing pages of my own writing, and just being filled with self-doubt. I think self-doubt must be the death of creativity. (Apparently I’m paraphrasing Sylvia Plath here.)

 It gets easier with each draft. I mean, I don’t have much experience as this is only my second proper WIP, but I think it’s about seeing the words on the page translate the images in my head, and the closer I get to that, the calmer I feel. I know I will never reach the point where a book feels complete for me (I don’t think that’s possible for any writer) but I would like to reach a point where I feel confident that I’ve written a good story.

The time to begin writing … is when you have finished [your work] to your satisfaction.  By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.  ~Mark Twain

So, how about you? Anyone else feeling the frustration of ‘oh my god I could finish my first draft in ten hours if I just made myself work on it’ versus ‘but you won’t because it’s shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit’? Or is that just me?? *Laughs manically.*

Any comments, thoughts, experiences or advice to get my head examined would be muchly appreciated.

A writer and nothing else:  a [person] alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right.  ~John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune, 10 September 1961


cherie said...

I love that Gene Fowler quote! I used that on one of my online profiles.

Anyway, I've given you an award!

Selina said...

It took me about 3 hours on Sunday to write something. Seriously. I was not amused

Eleanor at Mirror Of My World said...

beautiful post char xo