Monday, August 11

What's it like, writing a book?

"What's it like," someone asked me, "writing a book?"

Well, no, no one really asked me that, but I wish they would, because I have the perfect, absolutely right answer.

Writing a book is, on a much, much smaller scale, like having a baby. No, not the physical having part, although plotting and labor pains have a great deal in common--I'm talking about the part where you look at this tiny, messy, unfinished thing and wonder how on earth you could ever love something that much.

And they grow, both the love and the book, and it's more and more like raising a kid. You have to change it with virtually every chapter, because the chapter before didn't go exactly as planned. You stay up late writing sometimes, because the muse never heard of curfew and doesn't care at all that you have to go to work in the morning. Other times you sit in front of the keyboard and play Solitaire because the muse is giving you the silent treatment.

There are long, lovely times when all goes well. The characters do what you expect of them and there are no real surprises and all is fun and kind of easy and then...oh, and then you have the black moment.

Let me insert a qualifier here. Comparing the black moment in a book to the black moments in your beloved child's life is a whole lot like comparing a goldfish to a whale. 

However. When you write that black moment, you need to do it with all the grief, angst, anger, fear and whatever other strong feelings that come about because of your child's black moments. It may be a goldfish in the scheme of things, but you have to write it like it's a whale.

And then the time comes when the book is done or the kid leaves home. It is, like I said last week about something else, the best of times. You've done the best you can, though the product is almost guaranteed to be completely different than you anticipated when you started out. You say goodbye, feeling so happy about how things have turned out. Loving the Happily Ever After.

Then you cry some.

And then you start a new project because that's the only way you can let go of the old one.

18 comments:

  1. Very well said, Liz! You've nailed it! I'm in the throes of writing the last scenes of my latest novel and letting it go is hard--like letting-the-kid-go hard, but in a different way. it's silly to be so worried about sending this off to my editor. I know she'll work it over, make it better, and help it to grow, just like going out on his own changed my kid and helped him grow past me, but still, it's tough. Only about 2K words left...I can do this...

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  2. I LOVE the pic and this analogy is perfect!

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  3. Great way to put it Liz. So true!

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  4. Love this Liz! Your analogy is perfect.

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  5. great analogy, Liz! And that letting go...that kills me every time (with bebe and with books).

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    1. Yup. it's not anything that gets easier as you go along, either. I guess we're lucky to love that much.

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  6. Good post, Liz! I put my fave quotes about writing in my ebook Little Book of Sunshine. I particularly like what Dean Koontz said: "Writing a novel is like making love, but it's also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes, it's like making love while having a tooth pulled." *LOL*

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    1. That's for sure! Thanks for coming by, Joan.

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  7. So true! Lovely thoughts here. Thank you for sharing!

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  8. I thought so too! We can take real life black moments and remember the pain and anguish to put into our writing. Conveying those emotions is real. Good post!

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    1. Yeah, we all know we can write pain better if we've hurt, but it still hurts! :-)

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  9. You made such a wonderful analogy, Liz. It's so true, and even after it's gone off on its grownup adventure, you still think about what you might have done better for it, and worry that it will find its way in the reading world.

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    1. You absolutely do, don't you? Sigh. Thanks for coming by, Valley!

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