Years ago, when asked if she loved writing, a well-known author said that no, she really didn’t—what she loved was having written. I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember exactly who said it (although I’m almost sure) and can’t find the quote to get it exactly right, but that is the gist. I remember being disappointed. It didn’t make her books any less good, but I wanted her to love writing like I did. I’m a person whose entire life is more about the journey than the destination, and I felt let down by someone who was more interested in being somewhere than in how she got there.
Yes, I know that’s childish. Isn’t it nice that I never wrote her a letter and told her she let me down? Now, that would have been childish!
I wasn’t published then—or at least, not very—and had never worked with a deadline. Writing was easy for me. Far from having to open a vein, I had to force myself to stop when real life insisted I do other things. I hadn’t had many days when the words got stuck in the throat of my computer or lay dormant and leering on the tip of its tongue. I had never written a book because I’d agreed to do it. If I reached what felt like a point of no return, where the story wasn’t viable or the characters redeemable, I just stopped and went to a new project.
This week, I am skipping merrily along. I have two chapters to write on the book that’s due in a couple of weeks. A piece of cake, I tell you!
Admittedly, I know people who can write entire books in that time, but I’m never going to be one of them. And writing’s not easy for me anymore. I may not be opening any veins, but it’s a lot of work. There was a long siege there in the middle where I thought I might not finish at all. I muttered the words I can’t do it more than once. I sent the first half of the book to my friend Nan for her to read. What do you think? Do I need to take a virtual match to it? I spent hours on single paragraphs, hauling on those words that seemed to be irretrievably stuck in my laptop.
It has been an arduous trip.
“But don’t you remember?” my husband said. “The last book was this way, too. Maybe not this hard, but hard.”
Oh, he’s right. It was. And the one before it was probably even harder.
This then, is why the author only loved “having written.” It took a long time for me to catch on, and I finally get it. I’ve sniffled a few times when I’ve written “The End,” and I always thought it was because I was going to miss those people I’d spent so much time with. And it was, but it was relief, too, that it was over.
So it doesn’t disappoint me in that author anymore—we all give up our naïveté at some point—but I am relieved about something else.
I still love writing as much as I did before I wrote for money, as much as I did the day Hilary Sares called me and bought that first Precious Gems book, and as much as I did when I finished the book of my heart in 83 days while working full time. (I don’t write fast—that was a big deal.)
There are many cool things about being a writer. Working at home. Wearing yoga pants. Not washing your hair if you’re not leaving the house. Being available for other things at times that are inconvenient to others. Having boxes of books delivered by the UPS guy and standing in the driveway talking writing with him. Writing while sitting on bleachers, in waiting rooms, eating lunch alone, and in the middle of the night because an idea Will Not Leave You Alone until you do.
But loving it…even though there are days when you most decidedly do not…yeah, loving it is the best.