A couple of years ago I took a weekend writing class from a reasonably well-known author. In the first hour of class he told us a little bit about his writing process, and at the end of his spiel he said how much he really hated writing (but was driven to do it by the stories he had to tell). Writing is hell, he said, I don’t enjoy it, not one bit, and, further, if you’re a real writer—if you’re doing it right—you shouldn’t enjoy it either.
At the time, I was beginning revisions on my second novel, and I was querying my first. I couldn’t wait to sit down to write everyday. I was in the zone. I was having the time of my life. I opened my mouth to disagree, but when I looked around the room, I saw that everyone else was nodding in agreement. I clamped my mouth shut, put my head down, and furiously took notes, determined to learn what I could.
Here’s the thing. What I remember most from that class is not what that writer set out to teach. My real take away was this: if you’re a real writer, writing’s not fun.
Here’s the other thing. That first novel (that I was querying at the time) is in the drawer. I’m querying novel number two—the one I couldn’t wait to write everyday—and now I’m working on a new project. But I’m stalling. I’m writing but barely. I stop short of using the words writer’s and block in close proximity, but let’s face it, that’s what I’m afraid of. Because although I’ve started several times, I’ve never gotten very far. It wasn’t that I ran out of story; it was more that I…couldn’t write any further, wasn’t sure how to proceed. And eventually I just stopped.
So…am I a Real Writer Now?
Of course Mr. Reasonably Well Known Author’s voice is loud in my head. “Now you’re a real writer,” I imagine him saying to me. “Now get your ass in the chair and write, dammit.” (Yes, he would’ve talked to me that way; he did a lot of pointed swearing and swearing while pointing.) [Read more…]