For better or worse

Writing a book is a lot like get­ting mar­ried. You have to make a com­mit­ment and invest time and energy in the rela­tion­ship. And you have to be pre­pared to stick it out “for bet­ter or worse.”

It all starts with the hon­ey­moon phase. That’s when you get an idea for a sure-fire best­seller. Just like you can’t keep your mind off your new spouse, you can’t quit think­ing about your story. You start draft­ing chapters and con­duct­ing research fuelled by a rush of adren­aline.

Then months, or per­haps years, later you’ve com­pleted one — or more likely — many drafts of the story. It’s not so much fun now. You have to work hard to keep up your interest.

You’ve read some of the para­graphs so many times the words no longer seem to have any sparkle. And some­times you secretly won­der if it would be bet­ter to just quit and start all over.

But you made a vow and are determ­ined to keep it. You slog away and then one day you look at your manu­script and think, “Hey, this isn’t as bad as I thought it was. There are def­in­ite pos­sib­il­it­ies here.”

Somehow things seem easi­er now. By strug­gling through the rough times, you’ve made your story stronger. You no longer think about hit­ting the delete but­ton. You want to see this one to the end.

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2 Responses to For better or worse

  1. Paula says:

    You’re right, Rick, it’s all too easy to get dis­trac­ted. I think that’s humankind’s default set­ting. I know writers — William Deverall for one — who write in isol­ated cab­ins with no access to phone, Internet or email. Another word for writ­ing could be dis­cip­line. A per­son has to do it, not just think or talk about it. I look for­ward to read­ing the Smithsonian art­icle.

  2. Rick James says:

    That’s the thing; decid­ing to make the com­mittment. I spend too much time clean­ing up all the silly odds and ends on my desk and entered in my Dayminder. Then finally after its all neat and tidy in my mind, it’s too late in the day and I’ve lost interest and energy!
    Further to that thread, I just bought the latest copy of “Smithsonian” magazine with an essay by Paul Theroux titled, “The Trouble with Autobiography.”
    Anyway, he starts off with point­ing out he doesn’t have the time of day or patience for any­one who can’t just can’t get down to it and write. Quoting Anthony Trollope: “There are those who…think that the man who works with ima­gin­a­tion should allow him­self to wait till – inspir­a­tion moves him…” Or as paint­er friend informed him, “Inspiration is for ama­teurs. I just get to work.”

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