Thursday, October 10, 2013

This is Going to take a While. Hang in there.



"It has ambition to be good, but it's not quite that good. But your taste...your taste is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you...The most important thing you can do is [to] do more work...[and] Fight your way through that." ~ Ira Glass
 
I hate missing deadlines. Like REALLY, absolutely, freaking hate missing deadlines. So I almost never do (insert triumphant smile). The only times I have is when I've tried reaching personal writing deadlines (insert arms crossed, pouty frown). Mostly because they were unrealistic. And really, aggressively tight. It took me a long time to realize that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't rush the creative process, and that no amount of desire, fervent or otherwise, will get my work to where I wish it could be and at the quality I expect.

Time. I need time.

I started writing novels when I was twenty-two. The day that I decided I wanted to be a writer was the day I felt like I had finally found my purpose. Boy, do I miss those days of being a hopeless dreamer. There was no dream that was impossible, including becoming the next best-seller with movie deals, action figures, and t-shirts. Naivete and a swelling ego had me believing so much in myself that I refused to acknowledge that I had so much more work to do, so much more learning still ahead of me. That's when the rejection letters started coming in--and man, did I get a whopping gulp of the bittersweet taste of reality. Rejection after rejection from literary agents humbled me, forced me to look at the craft of writing with a new level of respect and appreciation. I spent the next several years working on developing myself as a writer, learning more about the industry, and soaking in everything and anything that could help me improve. I'm really glad I didn't quit. Those rejection letters taught me something about myself: that I'm motivated by accomplishment and not by pride.

Sometimes doubt creeps in. Too long has it been since I've lost myself in creating new worlds, and it makes me wonder if this is the life I still want for myself. I'm at one of the most painful parts of this journey, the true test of what makes one a novelist and not just a dreamer: editing. Dear God, the editing. Makes my flight or fight response kick in just thinking about it. We writers love to create. But it's the painstaking process of editing chapter by chapter, concept, mini-plots, even characters...yuck. I'd rather sell my kidney. 

Editing my nearly finished novel, Violet Storm, has become this monstrous unending task. Editing for what feels like the thousandth time just makes me want to drink, a lot, and curl into a tight little ball while I watch the entire fourth season of Vampire Diaries until I fall asleep dreaming of vampires and everyone I love dying. Seriously, it happened last night. Not the drinking, but the nightmare. *shivers*

Okay.

I think you get how much I love editing. Which is about as much as I love the smell of other people's body odor, clammy hands, dog poop, and ketchup stains. Honestly, it feels and sounds more painful than it should be because Violet Storm has been three years in the making, from concept to typing those lovely words, "The End." Three years. Three. So I have to finish because just thinking about being so close and not getting it published makes me want to cry into my pillow and eat too much chocolate.

And yet, despite the length of time and the hundreds of hours already put into this novel, my "taste" tells me that VS isn't ready yet. Close. But not quite there.

Below is a really great video by Ira Glass on the Creative Process. Pretty inspiring.




Here's what one of my favorite authors, Brent Weeks, says about the gap Ira mentions: 
"There’s just going to be a disconnect for a long time between what you want to create and what you’re capable of creating. This gap closes over time, but it never disappears, because as your skills grow, at least if you’re an ambitious artist, so will your ambitions. Very few artists, if they’re honest with you – which can be rare, because all artists know they have to market themselves — very few artists are perfectly happy with what they create. It always falls short of what was in your head."
I understand that there needs to be a balance with meeting your own expectations and what is just downright, goddamn good enough. I hope I know it when I see it. Preferably before I go into a chocolate-induced coma and suffocate in my pillow.

~A

2 comments:

  1. Oh this is so so so true. I wrote a book a year ago that is tucked away never to be read or see the light of day. But I don't regret what the process taught me. I think I have a firmer idea where I want to go, so I practice and practice and with each post and article, I see what I want to do, what I know I can do and yet the "gap" as Ira describes between what I'm still writing. I know no other way to get there than practice and try. Sometimes I feel like, at 49, my clock is ticking faster than my ability is rising, but I'll age either way. Might as well age trying to create what I love.

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    1. Just reread your comment and I can't agree with you more: keep trying to create what you love. At the end of the day, that's all we can ask of ourselves. I've come to the point in my writing journey where I'm thinking more and more about taking that next leap to getting published and just doing it on my own. That way I can share my stories with my family and friends, and maybe others, like I intended when I first started on this adventure. :)

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