Sunday, August 18, 2013

Play Nice and Keep It Above the Belt

I do not like most of my work while I'm working on it. I pick on it, I sneer at it, I hurt its feelings. I tell it that it is ugly and that I do not like the way it is shaping up, no siree, and that it better straighten up and fly right or I am going to be forced to give up writing altogether and take up basket weaving. The world has enough crappy novels, but not near enough artful baskets. Or so I tell myself and my poor, beaten-down writing.

I've learned that when I get like this, it means two things:

1. I'm a normal writer. Apparently this happens to everyone, and you'll never know how happy I was when I realized that Margaret Mitchell was probably ready to throw Scarlett over a banister a time or two, that J.K. Rowling probably has a few napkins covered in scribbles about Harry Potter getting a broomstick up the nose, and for a fact Stephenie Meyer wrote a faux version of Breaking Dawn for a friend called Breaking Down in which all her main characters died hilariously.

2. Normal writers need breaks. This is true of everyone and everything, and as much as I want to sit and poke my novel sore, it won't get written any faster or any better than if I walk away for a while and come back another day when it is more old friend than pushy house-guest. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. If not fonder, at least tolerant.

If I'm hating on my work, then I can't pour any love into it. Good work needs to have the creator's enthusiasm weaved into every fiber. It deserves it. I deserve it. If no one in the world ever reads a word I write, the least I can do is love having written it. I can love it for existing, for the time we spent together. If I can do that, I'll always be proud of my work, lumps and all.

Today, that's what I'm working on. I'm trying to stop punching my work (and myself) in the face long enough to enjoy the fact that I am an artist and I am creating art. Anything much past that takes away from its simple truth, and it is in simple truths that we find the most happiness.

Write on, writers. Create and be fruitful in your art. It is what we were made for.


Heather said...

Thank you so much for this post, Marisa! I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who sometimes feels this way about my writing. I've come to a particularly difficult part in the revision of my novel, and lately it's been feeling more like I'm making it worse instead of making it better. Yet - most of the time, anyway - I still love what I'm doing, and I think that's what keeps me going.

Marisa said...

Thanks, Heather! You are certainly not alone. If writing was easy, everyone would do it and no one would care. ;) Hang in there, and best of luck on your revision!