Writing is a madman’s art.
(or mad woman’s, or mad gender-non-specific’s — the madness doesn’t care).
I usually reserve this blog for the finished product of that process — stories, snippets, little prose windows into larger narratives that may be finished in some later form. But I think there’s some value in talking about how those words come to be.
And they ain’t kidding when they call it a “process.” It’s not a particularly pretty one.
Sure, there are days where the story flows like water and the fingers race to keep up. But that’s not every day. And if you want to be a writer and you only ever write on those days, you will probably be one of thousands of “aspiring writers” who never makes it all the way to the end of a book. Because books don’t flow like water. Parts of them do, but rarely the whole thing. The parts that don’t flow like water are born in blood — you rip them piece by piece from your screaming brain and reconstruct them on the page.
That reconstruction takes a lot of work. Blood, sweat, and tears — it’s a cliche because it’s true.
There are “writing process” memes that circulate on the Internet. If you write or you know a writer, you’ve likely seen some variation. It’s a list that describes the cycle of “I love this, I hate this, why do I do this to myself?!?” that every writer goes through. That meme is pretty spot-on. I don’t want to say you’re not a “real writer” if you never reach a point of utter loathing for a work – a work that excited you just the day before – but it might be fair to say that you’ve never been fully swept up in the process if that hasn’t happened yet.
Stories, when they still live, unrealized in your head, are easy. They’re beautiful and perfect because they are not yet real. Bringing them into reality takes us right back to the bloody work. Victor and his monster. You stitch the words to phrases, graft the phrases into chapters, and when you have something vaguely story-shaped, you cut and cut and cut, deft as surgeon so the scars are never where the reader can see.
And sometimes, you end up with a piece close the vision that once lived inside your head. Sometimes, you get Victor’s raw-boned and misshapen Adam, a miserable creation that shrinks from the world.
And every once in a while — when the qualities of persistence and skill and imagination achieve elusive balance — something tremulous and breath-taking arises from that pile of blood-ink and verbal viscera. It stretches impossible wings — and soars