This week I finished another round of revisions on the newest "little novella that wouldn't quit" and polished the synopses for a potential pitch from "kind of okay" to "OMG! EPIC!". (At least that's how it felt this morning when I finished three cups of coffee and the last half of the synopsis for book three.)
With this project, I succeeded, once again, in setting deadlines I didn't meet and turning a fairly simple plot idea into a complex and emotional little book that makes me *SQUEEE* a little when I read through it. Really, you'd think I'd start to expect this by now, but it still startles me. Probably some phase in the "growing as a writer" process; I continually anticipate I'm writing average genre work and then manage to surprise myself. (I'm less surprised when I remember when I wrote my first (and absolutely average) genre novella 21 years ago when I was fifteen. Given a few starts and stops due to college and work, I haven't stopped working at it since. So, maybe it's about time I start showing some sign of being, you know, good at what I'm doing.)
This week also marked a rather horrible round of self-doubt. The specific details don't really matter. Suffice to say it was because writer reasons*. And because this project has taken significantly more rounds of revision than the last. (The Summer Project aka The Spider Thief Novel, consisted of one rough draft and one polishing round to fill in a few blank spots. And writing the synopses. Then it was done. This one is currently on draft number five. Four of which have been written since November. But still. Five! Why isn't this easier, right?)
The point being, it's easy to get discouraged and forget that every project is different. Easy to forget that this writing thing really is hard. No matter how fun it may seem. Even if you do get to drink whole pots of coffee and sit around in yoga pants all day except for when you have to put on real clothes so you can get more coffee from that fancy grocery store. Easy to forget that with any creative endeavor there is some grain of I-do-this-because-I-love-it buried deep under all the other reasons and motivators.
Approaching writing like work has been a large part of why I've accomplished as much as I have. It's enabled me to remove my "self" from the stories I write. Which in turn has made me more honest in how I write because I don't link dislike or judgement of the work to dislike or judgement of me. It's also enabled me to learn how to set goals and work through rough spots even if I'm not feeling the vodka-addled pinch of my muse**. Because part of this work IS work and the art can always come later.
But, when things get rough I persist because I love writing. Even on the days when I really suck at it. Even on the days when I THINK I really suck at it. Even on the days when a rejection rolls in.
I persist because I love it.
And because coffee.
*Writer reasons may include, but are not limited to, the following:
The wind was from the East.
I didn't have enough coffee.
I had too much coffee.
Something on TV made me angry.
I read something that was so good, I wanted to burn everything I'd ever written.
I read something so bad, I wanted to write All The Words just to show that fiction is not a waste of time.
Someone who should be supportive said something unsupportive about my work.
The story I was working on did not flow like water and I thought "I must be doing something wrong."
The story I was working on did flow like water and I thought "I must be doing something wrong."
I remembered thinking I was brilliant in college and wondered why I'm not already well-known and successful.
Thought a sentence my cat typed into my laptop with his ass made more sense than the chapter I'd just spent a week on.
Unavailability of chocolate in the house.
** This should not be interpreted to mean that vodka is my muse.
My muse however, tends to sit in the corner chainsmoking and trying to find his way to the bottom of a bottle of vodka while periodically slurring "Just finish the damn book." And then he passes out.