the terror

I thought I might do a wee series on being a writer this week. Not the actual craft...gah, I tire of talking craft. But of the mechanics, the emotions, the unadulterated terror of being a writer.

So let us begin...

Which of course is the most terrifying point of writing. The other night I had several people who hadn't ever heard me talk before complement me on how I did and ask me if I was nervous. Apparently I didn't seem nervous. All very kind. I was a bit nervous?  But scared? Nerve-wracked? Ah, no. Hell, the book is finished. SOMEONE liked it enough to buy it. It's getting some good reviews and I've gotten some friendly words on it. It's a bit nervy putting out there where people can see it, but not wracking. Not like writing. Especially not like writing The Beginning.

I can usually start okay. There's a honeymoon phase. But there's niggling doubt all the while... will it keep going? Is this an idea that can carry me through a whole damn book? Because you know, I might have written a half dozen books. (I have, you know, written a half-dozen books--okay more) but I haven't ever written this book before. Plus, do you know how many times I've failed at finishing? Do you know how many unfinished manuscripts I have on my hard drive RIGHT NOW? Hmm, count them...maybe it's better if I don't...damn. Too late.

Four novels, six novellas, and more than a dozen short stories.

Showing unfinished stories to people go like this:
Them: Cool. What happens next?

Me: I was hoping you'd tell me.

Because I don't fucking know what happens next...even if I've plotted the living crap out of the story, somewhere, sometime, shit's gonna take a left turn and it ain't going anywhere as friendly as Albuquerque.

But really, the fear is okay. You can drink that away. Elation? Now that's a little troublemaker.
exceptthatpart Idon'thaveworkedoutyet...

oh. yeah. that.

Crash! Hopes dashed on the rocks.

Yup, starting is the most bipolar, terrifying part of the whole process.

Except, of course, writing the middle.

Which is eclipsed only by writing the end.

Yeah, finishing is definitely the toughest. Which, btw, is where I happen to be at this moment, not only in this post, but in my current WIP, too.

And that, little boys and girls, is why writers drink so much. The Terror. It's coming for us all.

Except now that we're getting screwed by Maker's Mark. Good thing I drink Bushmills.


Anonymous said...

One of your statements that struck me most during your talk at Tattered Cover was that you genuinely liked and believed in your characters and their story. Despite it initially being "ripped to shreds" by The Inklings writing group (whose members shall remain nameless), less-than-groovy comments from friends, supportive but "it needs work"-type suggestions from the writing crowd, etc., you held on to your belief.

I realized later after pondering that this belief, in my understanding, wasn't really about your story or characters, but about yourself. You believed in you. You could not only finish this story (and many others), but that you would, by god, get it out there and someone would buy it. Look what happened! Your belief in yourself worked. Well done, and thank you for imparting some needed wisdom to me.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Aww, Renata. :) I hope so because you, my friend, are one terrific writer. I always wanted to find out what happened in your military sf you were writing so long ago.