Sometimes being a writer is easy and fun. You know what comes next in the story and you’re excited to get it all down, all the nuance and confusion, all the sudden unexpected turns of plot that seem just right.
I don’t have a lot of those days, myself. I suspect I struggle more than most writers; I’m certainly slower. I don’t talk about it online as much as I used to but yesterday, as I was doing some revisions, I realized a major complex scene was completely wrong and ridiculous. It turns out I’d established a much easier solution to the Problem At Hand early in the book, and why were they going to so much trouble when they already knew the easiest possible solution?
Discovering this sort of plot hole so late in the process fills me with despair.
A week or so ago a bunch of Tor authors, including Beth Bernobich, were doing a chat on Twitter, and I offered up a question that I thought the readers might be interested in: paraphrasing myself because of poor memory, I asked: “What’s the most surprising thing that’s different now that you’re a published author?”
All three writers gave pretty much the same answer (“There’s an awful lot of additional work involved!”) but for me it would be different. For me, the surprising change is that, as far as the writing goes, nothing is any better.
In non-writing aspects of my life, things are absolutely better. It’s great to have readers, and incredibly smart pros offering me revision notes, and to see my books in stores, and the money, too. All of that is better.
But in terms of sitting down at my computer and putting words on the page, there’s no extra confidence, no sense of validation, no ease or comfort. If anything, the struggle has extra headaches added to it: deadlines, personal and professional expectations, so on and so on.
So this morning, instead of getting out of bed, I laid there under the covers for an extra hour, thinking about the characters, what resources they had, what they needed and what they would never, ever do. I think I have the scene ready, and it’ll be better (not so “Hollywood” if you know what I mean) and shorter, too. What’s more, it’s a less tragic ending than I’ve been writing, which makes a nice change.
I’ll write it out later today or tomorrow. I’m nearly done with this thing (which for me means… what? two more weeks of work?) and then I can go back to something more fun. And hopefully I won’t have to freak out on Twitter again.