So yesterday I was sitting at the computer, lamenting a lack of tolerable words, that not even an abundance of homemade chocolate chip cookies could assist with. I had words, that wasn’t the problem; more that I just despised each and every one of them, and as result, could not, in good conscience release them to an unsuspecting public.
My problem stems entirely from reading quality material. I blame Game of Thrones. I’ve succumbed to it well and truly, and now spend a good portion of the day looking forward to night, so I can read uninterrupted. It occurs to me that this is why I stopped reading for a while; the addiction of it.
Anyway prior to the brilliance that is the written world of Westeros, I read some less than quality works. The last actual book I read was decent; a great story line with good, solid writing. Not brilliance but very enjoyable. The kind of thing I would hope to accomplish.
After that I borrowed a collection of short stories from the library on a whim, and that was terrible. One of the stories was just tolerable, another was awful, and I couldn’t even bring myself to try the rest. I have no idea where my mind was when I read the blurb and thought my life needed enriching with that literary classic.
Anyway, it was the sort of thing that one reads and says, ‘if they got published, then there is hope for me too.’ Or anyone really.
It was a lovely sort of encouragement.
Except that the reading of second-rate words does not improve your own at all, and so it was time to step up the game. Turns out Game of Thrones was a thousand steps up, and whilst I am loving the story, when I get to my own, I want to cry over its simplicity. It’s like George RR Martin is a scholar and I’m a year one student who still struggles to write my full name.
(FYI, I choose not to write my whole name. Jess is preferable to Jessica.)
And it’s not just GoT. There are others as well; stories that move me with their brilliance, whilst I stare at a blinking cursor on the page wondering how to make this paragraph better. Wondering if I could ever hope to do something that well. Questioning if it’s conceited to want to.
Anyway as I lamented my lack of prowess when it comes to creating literary masterpieces, it occurred to me that the author/novel relationship is very similar to that of the long-term romantic kind. Which then, considering my complete lack of apparent coherency when it came to said novel, led me to the timely decision to explain my revelation to you. Because it’s Tuesday and that’s what I do.
And so presenting…
1. It’s Love at First Sight
In the beginning of both book writing and romance, everything is wonderful. You walk on air enabled by the complete jubilation of falling in love. Everything in life makes sense, and nothing could ever possibly go wrong. This is the person you were made for; this is the story you were made to write. Of course there are a few niggly things, but you’re nothing but realistic; somethings will need to be worked on later, but right now, all is well.
2. There comes a point of commitment.
You realise, somewhere into the relationship, that this is ‘the one.’ It’s the real deal, the real McCoy and all manner of other clichés. Sure the idea might have come to you in the middle of night after a couple of Chardy’s (I’m talking about the story here obviously), but you know now that it’s legit. You are going to make this work, and it’s going to be magical. Nothing will stop you.
3. Reality Sets In.
It’s slow at first. A grammar error; a word out of turn. You’re surprised he said it, but you let it go, until one day you notice gaping holes in the story, and all the characters need a good slapping to get into shape. The honey moon is over and if it’s really bad you will find there’s no chocolate either. It’s the moment that you realise nothing is going to work unless you decide your commitment in point two actually meant something. It’s the time you work the hardest.
It’s this moment that the desire to compare sets in. When all you can see are the faults (and in a manuscript you’re looking for them; hopefully you’re not in a marriage), it’s important to not compare to something ‘better.’ Yes there are some brilliant novels out there, and chances are, at this point, yours isn’t one of them. But the best stories aren’t told in the first draft. They’re refined and worked on for what feels like forever. And they’re always worth it in the end.
This is also the time when it can be tempting to jump ship. You had another idea, that might be better. That other person would never leave towels on the floor. Maybe you need to start again. In my experience, that doesn’t work. In stories or relationships (not that I’ve tried it on the latter.) You keep going until it’s done; push through the hard times and make the story shine.
4. The Happy Ending
Whether or not that’s how the plot pans out is irrespective; the final edit beats all the happy ever afters there ever will be. Knowing you made it work, knowing you gave it your all, and that what you have done is nothing short of amazing.
Of course this is where the analogy ends, because in the book writing world you are probably ready to start the next one, which I wouldn’t recommend in a marriage, but you know. No analogy is ever perfect. You do what you can. 🙂
Also I’m well and truly stuck in point three right now, so it’s not entirely helpful for me, but at least there’s a happy ending in sight right? And if nothing else, here’s to halfway coherent blog writing.
Now, does anyone have any chocolate?