The Novel: What Happens After (and why writing sucks)

So, I wrote this thing called a book. It took two and a half years of my life to complete the current draft, not to mention countless of hours put in over the years to build the world, magic system, flesh out the characters, and give it a working (semi) interesting setting. It’s around 140,000 words, which were trimmed down and edited from about 300,000. Basically, it’s a big-ass book that has pretty much dominated my free time the last two and a half years. And it’s still nowhere near complete.

See, that’s why writing sucks — that’s why being an author sucks sometimes. You spend countless hours drafting, editing, perfecting, re-drafting, cutting, editing again, polishing, and by the end of the process you’re stuck with this monster of a work that you’re not even sure you like anymore. That’s when you put it away for 4 months, break it back out, and then realize all the other issues the book has. And then you start the entire process over again. And it’s exhausting. It’s depressing, and sometimes downright demoralizing. It’s certainly been the bane of my existence over the past few months. I’ve felt spent, generally un-creative, and altogether lazy. And I certainly empathize even more with those authors with overdue projects (Rothfuss, Martin).

Screenshot 2017-05-14 at 12.19.04 AM

My production log for April (I’m on the far left). As you can see, I suck.

Today, though,  I traveled back to my undergrad to watch my sister graduate. After, I met my first creative writing professor for a drink and we talked for about two hours about craft, story, etc. He talked about writing as a pleasurable experience, as something he looked forward to, and that was something that was really, really admirable to me, because, generally, my writing is pretty stress-inducing because of the pressure I put on myself.

I also realized that when you feel like I do right now, when you feel depressed, like you have nothing else to say, like you can’t write another word, you have to have the strength, the mental discipline to sit yourself down and write anyway. Create anyway. Find joy in a process that you don’t really want to find joy in. Because, like pretty much everything worth doing, writing is hard to do well. Part of being a professional writer is learning to be positive about your craft; learning to let yourself suck even when the pressure ramps up. That’s something that I had forgotten over the past few years.

So that’s what I’ll be working on.


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