“People talk about books that write themselves, and it’s a lie. Books don’t write themselves. It takes thought and research and backache and notes and more time and more work than you’d believe.”
I can only imagine the horrified look on your face as you read the title for this post.
“But, Aila… you’re a writer. You LOVE writing…”
I do, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck at times. If I had a pie chart that approximated the amount of suckage vs. the amount of awesomeness during the writing process, I’m not even sure that it would be a 50/50 thing.
So, you want to write a novel. You have an idea that keeps you up all night. (Sucks.) It sort of makes it hard to eat. (Sucks.) You can’t socialize the way you used to because all you can think about, talk about, and articulate is how awesome your idea is and nobody is listening to you anymore. (Sucks.)
In the beginning, perhaps, your friends and family oohed and ahhed over your idea. (Awesome.) But then, at some point, they stopped. Now you’re left with these options and these options only:
Write your book or don’t. For the sake of the rest of this post, we’re going to say that you decide to write your book.
You sit down at your computer, turn that bad boy on, and open your word processor. You’re staring at a blank page. (Sucks.) You type “Once upon a time…” and erase it. You aren’t writing a fairy tale here. This is a badass tale about a guy who wakes up in a medieval forest and has to battle cyborg rabbits and shit. “Once upon a time…” will not suffice.
An hour later you still have no idea how to start your amazing book. (Sucks.) Let’s say you trudge on. (Awesome!) You can come back to that sweet opener later. Your hero has just slain his first cyborg because he MacGyvered the hell out of the broken limb of a magical tree and in his foe’s dying breath he found out that the cyborg rabbit king has not only your hero’s only chance of going home but also kidnapped his twin sister and is forcing her into marriage.
Now things are really cooking. Words are flying from your brain to your fingertips. (Awesome!) You’re not even stopping to attend to those obnoxious underlined bits suggesting that what you’re producing isn’t sheer gold. (Awesome!)
Your loved ones have to remind you to eat. Sometimes they even have to remind you to do things like pee and sleep. You. Are. In. The. Zone. (Awesome for a few days, then it sucks… because you probably smell and need something besides corn chips and diet soda.)
You’re a genius. You’re convinced that the writers for Games of Thrones will be calling you any day and that you’ve basically just written your ticket to stardom. You’d better start practicing your signature for all those book signings your agent – who will beg to work with you – will set up.
Writing sounds awesome, right?
You’ve showered, passed out, had a meal, and now you’re ready to actually read your masterpiece.
You never did come back and write out an awesome opener. You can come back to that. (Sucks.) You have a hard time reading through the rainbow of squiggly lines decorating the page. (Sucks.) You can’t quite put your finger on it, but for some reason, your hero sounds more like an accountant than someone who would fight cyborg rabbits. (Sucks.) You thought your vocabulary was better than that. (Sucks.) You reach the end and realize that your hero completely forgot all about his twin sister. (Sucks.)
You’re the worst writer in the history of writers. (Sucks.) You realize you don’t even understand the function of a semicolon. (Sucks.) You open up a calendar and count back the days you spent on a pile of garbage and want to weep. (Sucks.)
Writing sounds pretty awful now, right?
Every writer worth their salt thinks they suck at some point. At a lot of points, I would argue. So, what do you do now? Chalk it up as a lost cause? Never write again?
That is certainly an option. But, you still want to be a writer. You still want to share the epic tale of the guy who battled across mystic lands to save his sister, defeat the cyborg rabbit king, and fell in love with a common girl who turned out to be the rightful queen overthrown by those damned rabbits.
So, do it. But, go into it knowing that there is going to be a lot, a lot, more suckage, because now you’re editing and rewriting. Don’t worry, there will be some awesomeness peppered in there as you finally figure out that great opening, and beef up your character development.
The point is, writing is not always fun. At least not if your goal is to write at a level where people will pay to read what you’ve written. If you want for writing to be all peach blossoms and troll kisses, by all means do it as a hobby.
But, if you put in the work… if you subject yourself to the painful process of rewriting and editing, and beta readers, and sometimes public humiliation, you’ll get there. You’ll polish up what was once a word turd. You’ll make something people will want to spend hours reading, then tell their friends all about it.
You will have changed. That’s what the whole writing process will have done to you. You’ll have officially become a writer. (Euphoric.) This is the part where it gets so awesome that you may forget about all the suckage and write something else, starting the whole bipolar writing process all over again.
Here’s to all you fabulous writers who suffer the self-loathing to give others an escape into worlds and people unknown. You’re amazing.