Lately, pursuing my fiction writing dream has been painful. After spending the entire winter waking up at 5am and devoting full weekends to my manuscript, I feel burnt out and ready to get this book off my desk already. But the stack of notes from my book doctor has made me realize that the real work has only just begun.
Even though I have a clear idea of where I want to take my manuscript during my next revision, the mere thought of all the work it’ll require makes me want to take a big fat nap. All this agonizing has made me wonder…is pursuing my writing dream supposed to be so grueling?
Yesterday’s guest column on The Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog came as the answer I was looking for. In “If It Hurts, You’re Doing Something Right: 3 Ideas About the Pain of Writing“, debut novelist, Heath Gibson, describes the pain of getting your first book published:
“Getting that first book published hurts—like I can’t even tell you. But the good news is that all the hurt is worth it; in fact, it’s invaluable. It’s the hurt that counts. And if you haven’t been through the pain, then save yourself the postage.”
I also found his description of his revision process to be comforting in its familiarity:
“Sixty-five page chunks were hacked, the last thirty pages were rewritten six times. I agonized over lines, phrases, even single word choices. Chapters were shifted, characters reworked. I climbed into dark places that hit me so hard I took showers after writing certain chapters. But it was only afterward that I realized that what I was doing was getting the manuscript in the shape it needed to be in. While it was happening, I was simply in pursuit of authenticity—a story that only I could tell and tell it in a way that only I could do it.”
Phew, I’m not alone in the hacking, shifting, reworking and agonizing. It’s normal for this to hurt this much. Furthermore, the pain I’m feeling is not pointless, good-for-nothing self-torture, it’s the result of working my writing muscle and challenging myself to grow as an author.
Anyone else feeling “the pain”?