- the really creepy thing, the thing that freaks me out the *most* about this crazy job, is that what works for me one year is in no way guaranteed to work the year after, or the year after that, or ever again in fact. i feel like i’m running on a treadmill that’s constantly changing speed and angle. as charles brown likes to say: “writing is the only job that gets harder the longer you do it.” but maybe he’s been hanging out with writers too long. that’s definitely the impression you’d get, from the way we carry on about it
Sing it brother! I know heaps of writers who say they hate rewriting; I know stacks who hate first drafts. But for me it’s back and forth, back and forth. The first draft of Magic or Madness went like a dream, but then so did the rewrites (mostly). The first draft of Magic Lessons was part dream, part nightmare. The rewrites were wonderful, the best writing experience of my life. So fabulous that I just wanted to keep rewriting it forever. What larks! The first 50 thou words of M!M!M!O!O!O! was fabulous, the last 15 thou—the worst writing experience of my life. And the rewrites have continued in that vein. Fun? No. Not even a little bit.
I worried that my experience of writing each book would show on the pages, and so asked my writer friends if they’d noticed a correlation between their experience of writing a book and its reception out in the world. The unanimous response was a resounding “Nope, none.”
Scott’s biggest selling book is Uglies. Yet, it was by far his most unhappy writing experience. His mother died shortly before he began the book and he was in deep mourning throughout the writing process. Yet nothing in the book would ever lead you to suspect how miserable he was while writing it.
Sean Williams has published a gazillion million books so he knows what he’s talking about. I gotta confess it was a shock to me. I honestly thought once I’d written a novel I’d have the whole novel-writing caper all sewn up. Nope. All I learned was how to write that particular novel, which ain’t that useful unless you’re writing the same novel over and over again. And how boring would that be?
As I struggle to get M!M!M!O!O!O! to be the book I want it to be—and damn it, I ain’t quitting until it’s there—I keep reminding myself that in five, ten, fifteen years I won’t remember the writing process. I won’t remember which bits came easy, which came hard. I’ll be too busy writing whatever new book challenge I’ve set myself. It’s one of the many cool things about being a writer: as a job it’s a moveable feast. You never know how it’s going to go. The rewards are enormous and the punishment huge. And every single day of writing I learn something new.
I love it.