Friday, August 13, 2010

Why Do They Put Up With Us, Anyway?

With every book and story I write, I reach a point where I’m about ¾ finished and suddenly the end is in sight. That’s a great moment. For a moment. Last night I told Mighty Reader that I was writing my way through the turning point of the current novel, and I thought I’d be finished with this draft in October sometime.

“That’s good,” she said. “Isn’t it?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Now that I can really see the story written down in its broad sweep, I’m having doubts about it. Sometimes I think it’s really dumb.”

Mighty Reader looked at her watch.

“You’re right on schedule,” she said.

It’s that part of the process I loathe the most, where I know I’ll finish the book and fear that when I have finished, I’ll have written a very stupid book. Part of me wants to race ahead and get to the end and part of me wants to drag my feet and delay the inevitable moment when I realize how stupid I’ve been to waste the last six months on this steaming pile of prose. This is the absolute worst part of the process for me, and right now I’m twitchy, irritable and prone to arguments with friends and strangers alike. Mighty Reader, I must point out, is one patient woman to put up with my moods during this phase of the writing. No doubt she’d point out that I am just as moody when I haven’t been writing, and I’m as much of a pain in the ass in all the other stages of the work as I am now; I just don’t happen to notice it. Like I say, she’s patient.

So today I’d like to just thank Mighty Reader for her infinite understanding and remind you all to thank the Mighty Reader in your own lives, whoever that might be.


  1. Thanks for this and many thanks to your Mighty Reader. I wish I had one of those.

    I've just reached the 60K word mark on what I plan to be my usual 80K word novel, and I have hit that "OMG what-a-pile-of-crap" moment, so it helps sooo much to know somebody else goes through this on a regular basis.

  2. Oh my goodness, I know what you mean. The only reason I think my husband puts up with all the writing mood swings and whining and talking through things he doesn't really care about, is because he's an actor and he "gets" the character thing.

    I absolutely hate the "Oh, this is crap" moment. Just remember that hating your work is necessary as long as you don't let it last too long.

  3. Anne: I'm at 56,590 words of a projected 85-90K. So I'm right there with you in Miseryville. I'll buy the first round.

    Michelle: If Mighty Reader wasn't a fan of my writing, she'd have hit me with a brick by now, I'm sure of it!

    I think that pushing through this phase is just another thing that separates the real writers from the wannabes. I know a couple of people who've been working on novels for years and have never finished a first draft because they can't make it past this stage. The get here, abandon all hope, and start a new project. Rinse and repeat.

  4. Maybe that's my problem. I'm 3/4 of the way done with my novel and I'm afraid to finish, because I'm not sure it's worth the time. That might explain my depression right now too. Hmmm

  5. Yes, Adam quickly became a fan of my writing as soon as I announced that I'll be writing more fantasy. Go figure.

  6. Mary: Could be. There are days lately when I wake up and the sun is shining in a blue sky, the birds are singing and everything is perfect but still I hate the universe because I think my book is going to suck when I finish it. The thing to remember is that you can't revise and repair anything that might be wrong with the book Until You Finish Writing It. So be brave and push onward!

    Michelle: Yeah, I keep noticing that Mighty Reader is most excited about my upcoming detective novel project. WTF is up with that? Hmm...

  7. Thank you, Scott's Mighty Reader! And thank you to Might Readers in general!

  8. Having surpassed the 60K mark about 15 minutes ago I'm right there with you. I have a secret though, I wrote the ending already.

    It came to me out of the blue so I wrote it down. With only 18 days to my proposed deadline, I don't have time to feel shitty about the work in progress because now I know I have limited time to work to fill in the space between 60-85K.

    And I don't have a Mighty Reader so I'll just thank yours. Thank you Mighty Reader. And I agree with her, I want to see this mystery novel take shape as well. Although, I'd also like you finish up Cocke and Bull. Or just get it published so I can read the damn thing in its entirety.

  9. I write shorter, but yeah. Same thing applies. Usually somewhere around the middle...and it doesn't normally let up until I'm very nearly to the end - at which point I just want to finish the darn thing and not look at it again for months. So I rush through the ending and heave a sigh of relief as I pop it in the virtual drawer to "marinate".

    And without my "Mighty Readers" (I have a few)...goodness, I don't know if I'd ever finish anything. I don't always believe them when they say it's not crap, but I generally believe it enough to keep going, which is what matters.

  10. In my case, I think Rose is way happier when I'm writing because when I'm not writing regularly I get all fidgety and moody. lol

    That said, I haven't hit the 75% point set in a novel when she's been in my life, and I'm not a contract with a publisher, so either of those might dramatically change her impression of my writing time!

  11. haha Michelle and Scott. I'm glad that Rose is cool with whatever I'm writing, because I don't think I could cut it writing cozies and epic fantasies for long.

  12. Mighty Readers deserve our undying appreciation.

    And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

    I not only go through the (and am in fact completely in the throes of the) "I hate this! It should be burned and then the ashes shredded and the shredded ashes should then again be set on fire!" phase with my second manuscript, but I'm realizing I may never have the heart to revise it because I either love it just as it is even if it never goes anywhere or I just want it to go away quietly.

    My family routinely steals my paintings right after they're done to hide them from me so they don't meet with an unhappy end. There's one right now I'm searching the house for- because when I find it, it's so gone...


  13. I've gotten stymied on the third novel. Its not complete.

    The second sits and waits for revision. Every time I open the trilogy I wonder what was I thinking?

    I get real touchy whenever someone asks "hows the writing going?" Nothing like gritting your teeth and biting your tongue to keep from going off into an incomprehensible tangent.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets that way.


  14. I identify with that feeling a great deal, and I'm sure many other writers do too. It's a dangerous time; it can be hard to stay the course and finish the story in the same spirit in which it was begun - but that's the only way forward.

  15. I am there right now. My book sucks. Except I'm only at the 35K mark...

  16. What February Grace said. And I don't mean the part about burning manuscripts or destroying paintings...


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