Monday, June 21, 2010

Excitement and Torture

The other day I was thinking about the experience of writing. So far, I have found the act to be one of the most exciting and torturous experiences of my entire life. For me, there is really no in between.

First, you get this idea. It starts small and it grows. You get to meet new people, shake their hands and nod as they share their stories. Soon your eyes grow big and the rest of the world shrinks and you're all consumed. There is nothing more exciting than this moment, you think, but you're later proved wrong.

After you write the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first chapter, things begin to settle. You think, ok we're really in this thing now. We're friends. We're partners. We understand one another, my manuscript and me. It's familiar. It's comfortable.

And just like that, suddenly, without warning, it's absolute torture. Everything and everyone is at odds. The manuscript is your sworn enemy. Nothing and no one can salvage this relationship. But you have to. Because it was once exciting. It was once, an idea.

And you continue moving forward, despite the torture. You take solace in the moments that are familiar and comfortable. You push through the moments when nothing works, when no one is talking to one another, arms folded across their chests, when sighs and groans are the only things you hear, even with your ears pressed to the door, waiting, to be told, something, anything that will help you get out.

After weeks, months, sometimes decades and years of this, you have a first draft. The elation you feel can not be matched, you think, and you're later proved wrong.

The edit starts with good intentions, open hearts and minds. But it later becomes the torture chamber you know it to be. The manuscript is angry as you slash and burn. You are angry when the manuscript taunts and teases.

After weeks, months, sometimes decades and years of this, you have a final draft. Nothing can be more extraordinary than this, you think, and you're later proved wrong.

You send it to beta readers, literary magazines, agents, and editors. Your arms are open. Your heart is hopeful. It's an exciting time, sending this manuscript out into the world.

And you wait for the feedback and it's absolute torture. Because, with the silence, there is doubt. I wasn't ready. We weren't ready. We were never ready. We never will be.

This is where I sit on the journey. At the side of the road, empty-handed. Waiting, with my hands in my lap, for someone to drive by and take me along. Of course, there is a new storyand it's growing all around me. I feel it building and I know that the excitement is not very far away.


  1. That's the key--keep writing another one while you wait. I hope you hear awesome news!

  2. Oh how I could relate to every word of this. EVERY WORD. One agent or another has had pages of mine for the last year. I'm slow to query and revised when I was lucky enough to get feedback, but it seems I'm always waiting or second-guessing myself.

    You and Terri are right: you just have to write another, keep on going and keep querying the first until you've got the second one written. Hope you get good news soon!

  3. Great luck to you... I am not good with waiting either, you are not alone.

  4. No one is good at waiting...But it's part of the process. Starting something new is a great idea. I always have a handful of projects going on. Keep sending out queries while you wait for your feedback...