March 8, 2013

Casual Friday: Writing is Hard

Writing is hard.

I’m not talking about the process. Although really, that can be hard, too. I’m talking about being a writer. Putting your work out there. Being brave. It’s hard. It’s hard work, and it’s hard to do.

We write. And as we write, we fall in love with our characters, and our stories, and our words. And we murder them and hate them and love them all over again. But as hard as that whole thing is, we can’t ever just stop there. So we send our words and characters out into our close-knit world, to our betas and CPs, and if we’re lucky, they come back shredded and red-inked and bleeding.
Image by Jenny Kaczorowski

And we are lucky, if that happens. Because it gives us the chance to make our characters and words and stories better.

So we swallow the hurt (because let’s be honest, even the truth we want hurts), and get back to work, until we can’t stand to look at our darlings a moment longer, because we’ve shredded and rebuilt and crushed and reimagined until our brains and our fingers hurt, and we haven’t slept or showered or eaten because we can’t get these damnable words out of our heads.

And then we do it again. Out into the world they go, only to come back bleeding again, but maybe a little less. Lather, rinse, scream, repeat. Until we have a polished copy, that we love so much we just can’t keep it to ourselves.

Which is when the hard part really begins. 

Queries. Contests. Pitches.

Rejection in the prettiest of forms. Because no matter how good our polished darling is, there will be rejection. There will be a lot. Because (and how often have we all heard this?) the business of writing is subjective. Which means it’s based on opinions. So it doesn’t matter how much our betas and crit partners and friends all love it or don’t. Because now your little darlings are facing agents and editors and slush readers who aren’t necessarily thinking about ‘is this a good story’ but ‘is this a good story, am I willing to really work for this story, does it speak to me and draw me in, and can I sell it?’

And a lot of the time, the answer is a very painful no.

Not for me.

Wasn’t drawn in.

Just didn’t connect.

Every one, a punch to the heart. But we take a deep breath, and we keep going. Revise again. Send out more queries. Hit up more contests. Put it through workshops.

Image by Jenny Kaczorowski
If we’re lucky (and let’s not fool ourselves, sometimes it is entirely luck!), we find an agent, or an independent publisher. Which means the work really begins, polishing that darling to a fine shine. Subbing it to editors. More of the same, and endless waiting, and more rejection.

Many of us, though, end up back at square one, with the hard decision to put it away, and start again. New draft, new characters, new words, new darlings.

New revisions. New shredding and bleeding.

New tears, because there always are. And sometimes we get lucky with number two. Sometimes, we have to move on. Three. Four. Five.

For those who don’t make it, for whatever reason, there’s always a point of question. Do we keep doing this, for the love of our words, or do we end the pain and frustration?

Hopefully, we keep going. More stories to tell, even if nobody ever reads them.

But oh, is it hard. It’s hard. 

And sometimes we have to take a break. Step away from our  words and our dreams and all the happiness around us, as friends and crit partners and betas make that jump that we just can’t seem to make. 

Sometimes we have to step away, so that we can remember that writing is fun. That it’s a part of us.

Because as hard as writing is, it’s also fun, and amazing, and beautiful. And it’s a part of who we are. Because we wouldn’t do all that hard stuff if writing wasn’t a part of us. So we start again. And maybe we’re slower, and maybe it still hurts a little, and maybe the thought of putting it out there hurts too much to think about yet.

But the writing, that’s the important part. Words. Characters. Worlds. Stories.

And if we’re smart, we let the rest go for a while, and let the words heal us.

Because if writing is really important to us, if those stories and characters and worlds and the WORDS are important, then the rest of it doesn't matter. The hurt and longing and all of it, the heartache and the headache, it doesn't matter. What matters is the choice we make. 

And if the words are really important, we'll come back to them every single time.

So screw in your courage, writer. Put on that hard shell. Let yourself have a good cry, if you need to. We all need to, sometimes. But don't stop.

Don't stop.

Writing is hard. It really is. But not writing? Sometimes that's harder.


Jamie Grey said...

Fantastic post, Cait. Writing is SO hard, and it's so easy to want to give up. Thank you for being brave and reminding us that it takes courage to keep going.

AngiNicole said...

I love this! So dead on with everything. It takes a strong will and lots of courage to keep on writing. Thanks for reminding us why! xo

Anna said...

Your last line summed it up perfectly. Thank you for sharing.

Feaky Snucker said...

Damn right!

Carissa Taylor said...

YES! I so needed this today. I'm in the query trenches and the rejections and the waiting are just so hard sometimes.

Heather Clark said...

Beautiful. Almost had me in tears, it's so true.

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