Am I a whiner? Sometimes I feel like it.
The truth of the matter is that writing is just plain hard.
When I am writing a first draft, I wish I was revising. I tell myself it’s so much harder to make something out of nothing than it is to make something better out of something okay. In a first draft, I still don’t know my characters very well, so I’m not entirely sure of what they should do or how they should react to people or events. I typically have no idea how the story will actually end, so I’m writing blind and terrified that because I see no ending now I won’t see an ending ever. I have to cast deep into my well of creativity because everything– absolutely everything– is brand new. (It gives me so much appreciation for my God who created ex nihilo [Latin, “out of nothing”].) It’s physically exhausting and mentally draining, and (at least in me) it prompts deep, deep doubts about myself. In the early days of a first draft, I desperately long for revisions– when I will know my characters well and will be perfecting the story and imagery.
When I am revising, I wish I was writing a first draft. Deep in revisions, I feel bored to death with the process. It feels so stagnant and dull compared to the excited fervor of creation. It feels nit-picky and brutal, a journey to endure as a longsuffering artist. And everything needs to be moving forward, finding its place. You have to “kill your darlings.” You can’t keep putting things on the backburner to deal with another day– “another day” has come and the time is here. It’s like finding yourself in the middle of a battle without armor. I think longingly of the days of freewriting and drafting, how carefree they were, how it didn’t matter if things fit together, how fun it was to be coming up with new adventures for my characters, how exciting it was getting to know them.
I am finding that the old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” is true in my writing life. I don’t want that to be true, and I want to find ways to love and appreciate whatever stage I’m in.
I don’t know the answer yet, but I suspect it might look something like this:
1) I need to reflect on what I love about writing in general, about words, ideas, stories.
2) I need to count my blessings. I honestly do feel terrifically grateful to be a writer– even with all its woes.
3) I need to remember that every stage has its own merits and to start focusing on those positive parts instead of the negative.
4) I need to respect the creative process.
5) I need to be healthier.
What other suggestions do you have for me?
Image credit: Arzu88 on deviantArt