Turns out there’s a great deal more romance in WANTING to have plenty of time to write my story than there is in actually having the time and trying to write. It’s so much easier to roll one’s eyes back in distress and complain about the agonies of never being able to commit your worlds to paper than it is to actually do it.
But I don’t think these things through. Not till, you know, I’ve saved my tail off and eaten rice and beans repeatedly and started a new business and actually made my summer-to-write happen.
One fine summer’s day not too long ago, I sit down, open my computer and start reading my last draft of Book 1, just, you know, to get a sense of what I still need to do to it.
And Chapters 1 and 2 are actually a delight to read. See? This isn’t so bad! I’m going to finish this thing yet.
Then I hit Chapter 3 and get an odd sense of deja vu. Didn’t that conversation between two main characters already happen? And wait, why are they suddenly pretending that they know nothing about the very important issue that they already discussed in Chapter 2?
My valiant all-day read through comes to a halt at Chapter 7. It’s too much of a wreck to keep reading. All that mess needs to be reworked before I can even begin to formulate what needs to be done to the remaining 2/3 of the draft.
I have made a full page of notes in a separate document. And I have become thoroughly disgusted with myself for imagining this kind of labor as some sort of reward. I send a few moaning, depressed texts to friends, wait for their gratifying responses, and decide to sew cravats for the rest of the day. At least THAT feels productive.
Writers are such masochists–this isn’t fun. Not in the least. It is, in fact, forcing me to confront the fact that I’m not very good at what I most want to do, and that I do not, a great deal of the time, actually want to do what I tell everyone I most want to do. It’s forcing me to confront all of my inadequacies and insecurities. It’s depressing and time consuming and frustrating. And it is NOT fun.
I open up my computer and begin making planned changes to Chapter 1.
Now, three days later, I’m finding myself wishing that I didn’t have plans this weekend so I could start sorting things out on paper, organizing the wreck that is Chapters 3-5, breathing new life into it, wrangling with the characters until their words and facial expressions come out so right that I’m smiling like an idiot and reading it out loud to my cats.
It’s just a different kind of work, and in a way, harder than my usual summer jobs. It’s not even work I’m sure I want to do half of the time. But I’m somehow driven to it. I know that I will be more unhappy if I never do it than if I make myself sit down and do it. And who knows? Maybe, someday, something will show up on paper that validates everything.
So bring on the pain, summer. I have been waiting for you.