The Agony of Writing

by RS on February 16, 2010

I came across a new writing blog, Diary of a Virgin Novelist, last night. I read some of the posts, and one that really sang to me was Writing Sucks.

Every time I sit down to write an article I get that queasy butterfly feeling in my gut. I know I worry about it too much. I never think it’s good enough. I stress over punctuation, syntax, and flow. And it seems that no matter how many times I proof-read a piece I always catch something–a misspelled word, a comma splice, a run-on sentence, missing words, repeated words. It never seems perfect.  Although I’m no longer working as a flack, sometimes I feel like I’m a hack, and it is agony.

When I’m working on Julius I don’t feel this way at all. It’s different. I still worry about the same things, but I’m more relaxed about it because I know I’m working on the 115th draft and it’s getting critiqued. However, the day will come when it’s completely finished, and I’ll have to format it and get it ready for an agent that’s when the agony will consume me. Even if it’s perfect, I know I’ll find something to worry about.

So why write if I’m putting myself through Hell? That’s a hard and easy question. The easy part is that I enjoy making up the stories, and I love learning from them. Thanks to Hand/Eye I am learning a great deal about textiles and other crafts. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that this is all very new to me and how ignorant I was about the world of crafts. Two months ago, I would have thought a quilt was a quilt. Writing, like reading, opens more worlds for you.

Now to the hard part of the question. I believe that no matter what I do whether it’s  public relations or working as a bagger at a grocery store, something in the back of my mind will be nibbling at me, convincing me I’m doing something wrong, and that it’s not perfect. Writing is no different.

I’m hoping that once I win the Pulitzer this feeling of not being good enough (or smart enough) will go away. Did I just write, “win the Pulitzer?” I’m kidding, but I can dream, right?

Back to the salt mines. My gut is twisting up and I know that’s a sign that I have to get writing.

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