Monday, January 12, 2009
Writing: A Love-Hate Relationship
I used to think that I was the only writer in the world who hated writing as much as I loved it, who would invent new forms of procrastination just to keep from doing it, who would curl into fetal positions at the thought of an impending deadline, who would go into a cold sweat trying to figure out how to start the thing. I’ve since come to understand that there’s not a writer alive who doesn’t feel like I do. That as much as they revel in the process, they suffer just the same.
The following is a 10-point list of what I love and hate about what we all can’t stop doing, no matter how much it hurts sometimes:
What I love
1) The freedom of expression, letting my thoughts burst forth unimpeded, and, on that rare occasion, finding that glorious flow, as if I were, to borrow a line from the movie Amadeus, taking dictation from God.
2) Researching for hours and hours and hours before finally unearthing that singularly wonderful fact that changes everything.
3) Polishing, altering things again and again, if not spending an hour doing nothing more than inverting just two words. Absolute joy!
4) Interviewing people who have been interviewed countless times but getting them to say something different, shocking, if not profound. The thought of it gives me goose bumps.
5) Finding the different word that stretches the reader's mind. Makes my day.
6) Entertaining readers with my unique style. I admit it: I'm a ham and I pride myself on having an instantly recognizable style.
7) Becoming known for my work, both inside and outside the business, and establishing a solid reputation.
8) Seeing a new story in print for the first time and just staring at it with pride. Nothing like it. After 30 years of being a professional writer, this never gets old for me.
9) Receiving feedback/letters/etc. that tells me that my story moved them in some way, made them laugh or cry or think or re-think, etc. It’s why we all do it, right?
10) Getting paid for doing what I love. Excuse the cliché, but you can't beat that with a stick.
What I hate
1) The dread of coming up with that first line. Facing that blank screen/page trying to fill that god-awful emptiness with something compelling. OMG! The cold sweat of it.
2) Deadlines. Although without them, I wonder if I'd ever finish anything. A necessary evil, I guess—at least for me.
3) Editors who don't understand my genius. Such idiots! LOL
4) Rejection of any kind, including requests that I rewrite things. Ruins my day.
5) Waiting to hear back from editors after you've submitted something. It's the proverbial dying a thousand deaths.
6) Horrible editing that compels me to cringe when I read the story in print, if not to make an angry call to the guilty party screaming words I cannot mention here.
7) Hate mail. But it comes with the territory. I’ve learned to deal with it.
8) Fighting for the right word/words and not finding it/them. Nothing drives me crazier.
9) Thinking about the story so much, it makes sleep all but impossible.
10) Writing badly. Nothing depresses me more.
There you have it. I’d love to hear yours. In fact, send them to me (at firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll publish them on this blog.
Best always and, yes, stay positive,