Monday, March 28, 2011

Writing - a Difficult but Glorious Process

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. 
— Thomas Mann

I love this quote. I find it hilarious because of the absolute sheer truth in it. I do think writing is more difficult for writers...because for us, writing isn't just the process of putting words down on paper. Getting the words down is just the tip of the iceberg. But while it may be more difficult for us, I also think it's more rewarding than it is for other people. There really is no feeling in the world like finally finishing a completed, polished manuscript.

I always find it interesting when I discuss writing with non-writers. I remember being surprised at the amount of work it takes to get a complete, polished novel out. And, being someone who has at least dabbled in stories my entire life, and being an English major who has spent the vast majority of my life writing in some form or other, I knew in advance that it would take more work than just sitting down and writing the actual story.

I knew there would be edits and revisions and rewrites. But I still never fathomed just how much work it really was until I wrote my first book.

Non-writers really don't understand. And it's kind of fun to watch their reactions when you explain it :D

Our neighbors came over for dinner last week, as they often do, but this time I had just gotten a brand new corkboard (that I am sooo in love with!) It's big and shiny and BIG :D My last one was small so when I chunked out my scenes I had to use both sides of the board - and it fit neatly underneath my desk. This one fits the entire book on one side and must sit loud and proud on top of the desk (as I have no available wall space in this house to hang it).

So when my neighbors came over, they saw it and asked about it. And I explained how I chunk out my scenes so I can see where I need to change things, add things, delete things, rearrange things, etc. Their eyes grew rounder and more glazed as I spoke (I do tend to get carried IS my favorite topic after all lol)

I've talked with my mom about how I agonize over finding the exact right word, the exact right way to say something, to describe something; the exact right scene to evoke the emotions I want or to get the results in the plot I want. How I go over and over and over everything to make sure every little comma is in exactly the right place at the right time :)

Writing for a writer isn't just sitting down and writing. It's so much more than that. Every word really is a labor of love, agonizing and exhilarating at the same time. There is nothing simple about it.

Have you ever had the "what it really takes" discussion with a non-writer?


Liza said...

It took me about 45 minutes to fix one sentence today. Yep, it's more work...but SO much fun when you nail it!

lbdiamond said...

LOL, your neighbors eyes glazed over...yeah, I've done that to people, haha!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Oh yeah. I related to every aspect of this post! It takes a real writer to consider killing off or raising from the dead the main character's mom just for the sake of the character's issues. I'm going through that right now with my 'finished' WIP.

Great post!

Kat Harris said...

I'm always amazed at how amazed non-writers are to hear about my adventures in writing. I never thought it would be that interesting of a topic, but it's almost like people hang on every word writers say when they start talking about the process of writing.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think few non-writers could understand how much it takes or what we get out of it. But we do appreciate each other.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I don't really talk about my writing much with people outside the family. My husband and my daughter sort of understand, but the rest of my family... With them, I get less of the glazed eyes than the nodding heads and the 'oh yeah, uh huh, I understand' followed by quick subject changes.

Eric said...

This is such an awesome quote. And you are right - non-writers DO NOT GET IT! I have tried explaining it to my family and friends and they are polite and all, but you can tell by the look in their eye that they really don't believe. Sigh...

storytreasury said...

That quote is so perfect. Most other people don't get it.