Moonie and Precie pointed out this awesome entry by Libba Bray way back in July. It compares writing a novel to falling in love, and it’s well worth the read if any of you missed it over the summer and need a good grin.
For me, like everything else in life, writing has an ebb and flow. We’ll leave the business end (researching agents/publishers, writing queries, submissions, query hell, etc.) to the side for this post, and just talk about the actual writing process.
In my experience with both Raskin’s Wings and The Terrible Piece of Tripe that Shall Not Be Named but was My First Attempt at a Full Novel, I would hit periods of writing where the work just flowed and I was excited even when I wasn’t actively writing. During those periods of writing, the story kept fleshing out while I was doing other things, like dishes or dinner, or (unfortunately) trying to carry out conversations in which my friends and spouse lost a lot of patience with me.
Then it would ebb. Somewhere in the writing process I would hit a chapter that snagged, or a passage that I just couldn’t seem to get down right. It sounded wrong to me, or the words were, well, I don’t know – overly done, wrong for the voice... something... and once I wrote past that ebb I’d always get back to pace and excited again about the work.
Right now, I’m in love... so much so that all of my other writing before it just doesn’t seem to matter. I wonder if other writers do this – published ones, specifically, I wonder if subsequent novels eclipse their earlier work for them or if this is just a gushy stage in the Brand New Shiny WIP saga.
Lately, I’ve been uber busy with the kids, and putting my house together, and a host of other things I hadn’t expected – and still, I can’t keep away from my manuscript for a whole day. I’ve written something, everyday, since I began... some of it, admittedly, I cut the next day, but still it’s a work that has me hooked and wishing, rather fervently, that I could just wake in the morning and start writing, and not have to put it away until I was ready for bed... If I could pass all of my other responsibilities to someone else, it would be heaven... but kids have to be fed and bathed, homework done, parent teacher meetings attended, practices and games... well, you get it...
The funny thing, usually all of that stopping and starting makes writing hard for me. Even when I’m excited about the story, the fact that I have to stop mid-page or sometimes mid-sentence pulls me out of it enough that when I sit back down I have to re-read endlessly to get back into the mind frame. Not this time, though... Am I gushing? Seriously, I’m in love.
So, I thought I’d include a bit in case you guys wanted to see what’s been taking up all of my blogging time.. This short prologue is in the MC’s voice, and I sooo dig him... Oh, brand new shiny wip’s title? FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD:
I don’t come back to the old neighborhood very often, even though it’s just a short drive on the Eisenhower. There’s no one there, no one left who remembers me – who remembers us. I see the familiar street monikers from the expressway on my way downtown. I hear them in my head, in my old voice, the one I learned to hide long ago. It sneaks in, though, that guttural slang and dropping of consonants – when I’m angry or tired or thinking of home. And it unnerves people in my life today, to hear who I really am. They shake their heads as if they’ve imagined it and I revert to the polished grammar they’ve come to expect, and I hate them a little for the judgment but I think sometimes I hate myself more.
It’s a funny thing about that neighborhood; it never really lets you go. It’s always there, under your skin, in your veins, part of who you are – there is no eradicating it from your person, if you ever had need or want to.
Taking the turn onto Austin, it pounds in my ears, reverberating off the pavement and concrete, echoing from brick and lifting the corners of my mouth in that cocky half-smile. By the time I pass Roosevelt, I’m back. In my head I’m ten, twelve, fifteen, running through alleys or playing ball on the corner. Voices of long ago sing crisp and clear. The place I’m looking for doesn’t exist – only in memory and what little history that brick and concrete holds within, tracks of the people who owned those streets once, who called that place home and never quite left it, no matter how far they wandered.