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.

2 Replies to “For better or worse”

  1. 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. 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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