Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is Writing a Mystery Novel Painful?

      I've heard and read a goodly number of comments by writers about how painful a process writing is. They say that each day, as they begin a session, they're sure they'll never get a single word onto paper or screen, and if they do, that word and any others they manage to squeeze out will be terrible, unsalvageable. Then, when they finish a manuscript, they dread going back to start the next book. Facing a blank page reduces them to fidgets.
      I don't get it. I wake up every morning and can't wait to get to my computer and see what's going to happen. Does something big explode into prose every day? Not close. Is every piece of prose deathless? Hey, I live in Seattle; is every day a sunny day? But eventually, the sun always does burst through, and after an extended spell of nasty weather, that glow often seems wondrously brilliant.  
      Maybe personal history plays a role. My previous line of work involved looking after people with serious medical problems - talk about performance anxiety. The idea of a bad day on the job then was unthinkable. So if my characters decide to take a day off here and there, no problem. They're just trying to get themselves together. They'll shape up tomorrow.
      Maybe it's just that a person has to be a little off-center to willingly spend all day locked in a room with a bunch of imaginary people. But that's the key word: 'willingly.' No one's forcing me to go down to that writing room five mornings a week. If it weren't enjoyable, why on earth would I ever do it? 


Vicki Delany said...

If I didn't like it, I wouldn't do it! Simple as that, Larry.

Larry said...

A-men, Vicki. It does seem just that simple. But so many writers say they suffer at it. I have a writer-friend who insists that all people in the arts had at least one abusive parent, because normal people would not put up with the shit that people in the arts have to take. Normal people wouldn't know how to handle it.

Thomas Sinclair said...

Here here! I've never had more enjoyment in my life than in this writing thing. Sure it was hard establishing discipline to write, but now it's something I look forward to every day. And if I don't get the chance to write, I feel guilty.