Someone asked me this question recently, and it’s stuck in my brain. The answer isn’t obvious.
There’s no question I love writing. It gives me purpose. When I write – a novel, a story, a poem, a blog post – I get that feeling of yes, this is what I’m supposed to do with my life. It’s that overriding passion that gets me through the hard parts.
Because, as we well know, there are a lot of hard parts. If there’s one thing writers love to do (myself included), it’s whine about how hard it is. It’s hard to take a great idea, throw it at the page, and discover after two or three false starts that it’s not a great idea after all. It’s even harder to throw a great idea at the page and discover that you haven’t (or can’t) do it justice. It’s harder yet to spend months of revision wondering whether it’s “haven’t” or “can’t.” And when you finally finish, the choice between traditional and self-publishing sometimes feels like the choice between rejection and indifference.
Yes, I know, writing is the easiest thing in the world: you sit in a chair and type words. Doesn’t make it any less hard. I’ve talked about this easy/hard duality before.
I like having succeeded, of course. When you finish something that people really enjoy, when you know in your heart you’ve created something beautiful, of course it’s fun to look back at the gauntlet you ran and say “Yeah, I got through all that.”
But you can’t live in the end state, and I wouldn’t if I could. You live in the process.
Do I actually enjoy writing? Like, while I’m doing it?
The answer is yes, but it’s hard to explain.
Certainly I don’t like it all the time. Every step of the process (first draft, revision, submission) is by turns dull, frustrating, and disappointing. I guess I’ve said that already.
But beneath all that, the driving, underlying love sort of…bubbles up through, into “like.”
I like the idea phase, when everything is possible and everything is new. I like the happy surprises, when you lay down a sentence or a scene and think “Huh, that actually turned out pretty good.” I like watching my story take shape in the fires of revision. I even like the excitement of sending out query letters, when the big dark voice of “This will probably get rejected” can’t drown out the bright little voice of “But maybe it won’t.”
All those things, and more, I like.
And the rest? That’s what the love is for.
You tell me – do you actually enjoy writing?