Thursday, July 17, 2008

Writer round robin

A bunch of my writer friends are all starting novels at the same time as I am. It's fascinating to me (and incredibly helpful) because we all talk about how hard the process is. We gripe, swap pages, and exhult when things go right. We talk about how it can take an hour just to get to that magic state when the words start to unlock. How the premise can be slippery as quicksilver, leaving you to stare in despair at your pages. A friend sent me her first chapter, which wasn't working, at least ten times, and each time, I kept saying, no, no, no, nope, and then suddenly she sent me a first chapter that was perfection, and I don't know who was happier or more excited about it. I reminded her of all the times she had helped me--which included a couple of teary phone calls, let me tell you.

Another friend has brilliant pages that she was worried about and all she needed was a little bit to show the point she was making. A clear case of being so into the work, you can't tell what works or what doesn't.

Why isn't it easier?

And of course the better question is Why do we all love it so much? And the answer is How could we not? What is a luckier life than this one?


Clea Simon said...

oooh, who else is starting a new novel? I can't wait to get back to mine - got a few pages down and now I want to tear up everything but the first three paragraphs and I think I know what I want to do - but right now and revisions on the latest take precedence. Argh! I hope I'm this excited when I actually have time again.

Gina Sorell said...

I love hearing these stories they are inspiring and encouraging! I find beginnings the hardest of all. I remember being stuck at page 50 for months and months!! Each time I eeked out a new page felt like a miracle. Page 50 to page 80 was excruciating and then it unlocked, and it was heaven. That is if Heaven is a place where you hang out in your track pants all day, live in front of your computer, bribe yourself with snacks to stay there, and angst that everything that you put on the page the day before was shite. But still Heaven it is :)

Jeff Lyons said...


Somebody should write a book about all the angst stories of writers starting, stuck in, or trying to finish their books. What happens to them, how they break the log jam, and then a post script of what happened to the book.

I'd do it but I'm too stuck in my own work.

Make a good book though. :)


Clea Simon said...

The only comparable pain - and I say this cause I'm in it now - is re-reading after edits, once again. I'm re-reading a book and all i can think is "the characters are flat, their motivations make no sense, and I don't care."

Every few hours I email my husband and ask if I should even send this back to my editor to publish. He's still saying yes, I should.