Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On writing

I've had a new revelation about writing. Perhaps better said, a renewed revelation.

It's hard. Conk to the forehead right?

Here's what I mean. Writing is fun and exciting, a creative journey that is satisfying to the core of my heart. It's emotionally fulfilling.

Once the first draft is down and I think I've aspired to something on the outer spectrum of brilliance, the rewrite begins.

The first wave of reality hits. Brilliance? I barely cleared the garbage dump. Did I write this dialog? And think it was good? Laughable is a county mile away at this point.

What is with all the quippy little remarks? My characters are goof-balls. Mel Brooks is going to call asking help for his next movie spoof.

I'm supposed to be a serious writer here.

I read lines where I'm telling the reader what to think and feel about the characters rather than showing them their heart and mind.

So, I settle in, swallow the bile in my throat, chain my pride to the floor of my soul, glance at the ten books on my shelf that bear my name and get to work.

In 1 Samuel 22:10, David is on the run from Saul, crazy King Saul. The priest of the Lord gives David the sword of Goliath as a weapon. David used the sword awhile back to kill the giant enemy of Israel. He said to the priest, "Give it to me, there's none like it."

(Pause to ponder: isn't it amazing they even kept he sword in the first place? The priest of the Lord had it. Are we saving our swords from victories over our "enemy?")

The sword represented the strength of past victories. David gained confidence in his flight and fight with Saul because he'd defeated his enemies before -- and it began in the mundane of tending his father's sheep. He killed a lion, a bear, so when he faced Goliath, he wasn't afraid. He knew his ability based on past victories.

If he faced the lion, the bear and Goliath, he could endure Saul.

I have the strength of past victories. I've published 11 books, written 12, closing in on 13. I've met my deadlines. I've earned some good reviews.

But it also means digging deep. Sending the boys to the basement as author James Scott Bell says. Or, my writing friends, Roxanne St. Claire says, "Digging to China."

Writing is hard because we have to mine our own emotions. What can I say about my heroine besides "she was afraid?" Or, "fear gripped her?"

How does fear feel? What does it look like,sound like, smell like? Which sense is right for the scene?

Read all the writing books in the world, but if I don't dig deep, I won't connect with myself, the character and thus the reader.

Am I perfected in this method? No. I'm striving to be. My editor Ami McConnell helps me get there. I'm more convinced than ever writers need a good editor. It's a team effort.

Know this, if you want to endure as a writer, you're going to have to rat around in the basement, climb up in the attic and deliver some of the deepest and highest parts of yourself to the page.

And when it's all done, sleep for a week.


Rel said...

Sounds like writing is like looking at old photos.

When the photo was taken, you looked in the mirror in the '80s with your frizzy perm and leg warmers and thought you looked pretty good.

Now, you look at that same photo and cannot believe you wore those clothes let alone imagined you were dressed to kill

Love ya, Rach - sorry I haven't been around here for ages!

Great post!

Sharon Hayes said...

Speaking from your heart & soul - good post Rach. A couple days ago G-ma & I heard someone say something about easy to write - & I said they don't know what they are talking about - writing is HARD WORK!!

Love you