For almost three years I have been recording my writing journey. Now, when I hope to begin the publishing phase of my debut novel, I look back, amazed at the pace – not for the quickness – but for the slow, plodding, step-by-step process that has so many of my relatives, friends, critique members, beta readers, and acquaintances asking, “Just when the heck are you going to have this book in print?” So my lame response usually is, “Soon.”
So maybe what I should be blogging about in these pages is not what writing is, but what writing is not:
- Obviously, it’s not fast. I look back through the classes attended and the notes and drafts and ideas stored in seventeen 3-ring binders. And then there are the shelves of reference books, books read, and books waiting to be read. What do the offices of established, life-long career writers look like? Do they rent out locker storage space or start digging a mine shaft in their back yards? I started this endeavor in 2007, shortly after my now-deceased heroine asked me when did I plan to begin writing her story?… maybe after she was dead? My husband claims when he starts a home maintenance project, he estimates how long it will take and then multiplies that time by three. He needs time to plan, get supplies, start demolition, complete the “new look,” clean up the mess and see his doctor to remove splinters or apply a cast or prescribe pain medication. And add in about a dozen quick trips to Home Depot or Ace Hardware or Fry’s Electronics for things he forgot or didn’t know he would need at the get-go. This writing process seems about the same.
- It’s not easy. I had a professional career that required a fair amount of writing so, following retirement, I thought this creative writing stuff would be easy. Au contraire! I should have thrown all my technical writing skills out the window because the nature of that beast depends on facts, instructions, updates, scientific research, and cold hard facts. And the turn-around-time usually depended on some impending doomsday scenario such as next week’s Federal inspection. Using adverbs and adjectives was actually encouraged to liven up some pretty dry stuff. In creative writing, recording everyday life results in a snoozer of a story. Each creation needs to follow the hero’s journey with one step forward and two steps back. Tension, confusion, resentment, innuendo, adventure, humor, frustration, terror, change. These are the things good, best-selling writing is made of. I’ve got shelves of articles, books, magazines to prove it.
- It’s not intuitive. One would think writing was something we’re all born with; part of our twisting, twirling chromosomes. I read, therefore, I write, therefore I weave wonderful tales. Not so in my case. What an eye-opener. I am a changed person. And I am pleased to say a persistent person. I think that is a more gentle description than saying I am too stupidly stubborn to throw in the towel and call this writing business quits. Oh no. Each day now my head spins out a new idea. A new plot. A new plan. And I guess that is what amounts to the fun part. Let the writing of story number two begin. The plot thickens.