Writing is a tough game, something that must be learned, experienced and lived through. That said, sometimes I read through my writing and I think, this sucks. This is just terrible terrible writing, even after all this time. And then I start to pick out all my writer quirks, the things I repeat, the things I do poorly, the places where I need improvement. Sometimes I’ll notice that I use a certain word an awful lot and then it starts to drive me crazy and I feel the need to search and destroy every instance of that word. I think this is probably natural and part of the learning process, but it also seems to be the day, or my eyes, or my crazy brain. One day I can approach a piece of writing and think it’s horrible and another it seems okay, better, even good?
Writing really is a process. If you’re a reader (which I am and have been since a pretty young age, always devouring lots of novels) and a writer then you have probably noticed all the different writing styles out there, the people who are so good you get lost in their stories and the others who are very good at one part of writing fiction, but maybe not good at another. I feel like I can do some things well and am lacking in other ways. I’ve been trying to learn, trying to get better all the time and I do feel that I’ve come a long way, but there is so much further to go!
With Angst, I learned everything the hard way. I’ve always been a writer, of journal entries, of poems, of short story snippets, but Angst was my first attempt at a full length novel, my 99, 522 word opus. I started Angst as a book in 3rd person, past tense with 2 points of view. Then I thought, this would be better if it were 1st person, past tense with the same 2 points of view. So I changed it, all 200 pages, every single word that denoted tense. Then I thought, this story would really be best with only one point of view, 1st person, present tense. So I changed the entire thing, again. This was when things started to get exciting. My main character suddenly had a voice, she had attitude, she was alive! I can remember the first 8 pages of her “voice” were so exciting to me that I couldn’t wait to share them. I had found her and she was ready to tell her story and there were things that were happening to her that she didn’t think really could happen, things that were over the top and so I had to make plot changes again and again until she was satisfied.
The funny thing is that I think I do my best writing at night, in my head, when I should be sleeping. This is both annoying and also sort of amazing. Mostly annoying though. I’ll be trying to sleep and my characters will start chatting away in my head, talking to each other, yelling at each other and every word is perfect, right from their own mouths. The problem is that the next day, I’ll wake up, remember that I wrote this amazingly perfect scene in my head and when I go to write it down, it almost never comes out how I had imagined it the night before. Sometimes I can remember a phrase or the wording, sometimes not. Sometimes I can think about it the next night and the phrasing comes back and this time I repeat it over and over again in my head until I know it’s memorized. I know, I should just get up and WRITE, but I was supposed to be sleeping! And someone with panic attacks really should quiet their brain and sleep!
Writing is very fulfilling, but at the same time it can totally obsess your mind. There were times while working on Angst when I was almost in a frenzy with it, plotting out story lines in my head, totally distracted while driving to and from work and every other time when I could just think. But those were the magic moments, the epiphany moments where the story was first born. Of course you always wonder about the pace, about your descriptions of people, place, feelings, word choices, plotting, situations, and believability. There’s just SO much to consider when writing a novel.
Editing is another obsession I fall into, changing things again and again, never satisfied, always knowing that I could do this or that in a different way or I could use a different word or phrase. I think it’s really hard to say to yourself, this is done, this is the best it can be, because there are really endless changes you could make. Endless! Infinity! I could revise my novel until the apocalypse, until the earth literally swallows me up and still, there are changes I could make. I need to learn when to say, this is done, and I hope to soon.
A lot of the time I’ve felt alone with my writing. Very alone and writing generally is a solitary pursuit. But I kept trying to find people to read for me, trying to find validation that what I’m doing is worth something or some kind of group to join, but nothing ever panned out. I’ve finally come to terms with being alone, with knowing for myself what is decent and what isn’t. I fear that I may never be one of those perfect story tellers whose craft is so polished that is shines. But I think I can tell a story and I can touch people with it. At least I hope to!
And I’d like to ask you, would you read some of my novel for me when I am ready and tell me if I’m dreaming or if I really am ready to publish?