by Kathleen Bradean
Thank you, Donna George Storey, for your latest post about
the pleasure of trying hard. I’d already decided on my topic, and here, you
provide the salt and garnish to my thoughts!
Writing is hard
work. When it’s great it looks effortless. The letters appear on a page that’s
a flat plane of two dimensions, so the reader can never see what lies beneath.
The words evoke dimensions in the reader’s imagination, but that’s the story,
not the underlying structure that delivers it. And certainly not the process
that built that structure.
All this talk of work makes writing sound like a chore. (It
can be) A drudge (oh, it is sometimes). Torture (don’t get me started). So
non-writers wonder why we do it. It’s not enough to say we’re driven.
Non-creative types don’t get driven. Let’s not worry about them. Instead, let’s think about the aspiring
writers. All they seem to hear about is the agony. The wrist-to-forehead sighs.
The existential torment. We never talk about the joy. So let me tell all you aspiring writers about the magical
The first time you finish writing a novel.
You finish a story and it was exactly what you set out to do.
The serendipity of dashing off something from your
imagination then doing some research
and not only did you get it right, but the research adds depth and richness to
your story and now it’s at a whole new level of totally awesome.
That word. *snaps fingers* That word — it’s so elusive, the
only one that will do. It’s out there,
roaming around in the periphery of your mental vision but you just can’t get it
to… Oh! Yes! That’s it.
You’re crying your eyes out as you write because this scene
with these characters is so moving, and you’re a wreck the rest of the day.
When a beta reader points out exactly what’s wrong with your
story and you realize that deep down, you knew it all along. But what’s even
better, you know how to fix it!
That first acceptance.
That eightieth acceptance.
When out of nowhere, a scene drops into your brain, and you
realize you can build an entire story around those few seconds.
You’ve just written the truest story you could.
Writers with some experience, what are your moments of