I’m smiling as I write this because I actually think that talking is much easier than writing and of course I love to talk about writing. Today I met a writer friend for a chat and coffee, she has just submitted her manuscript to a publisher and so our discussion was delightful. So many of our past conversations in the past have been about drafting and drafting again until the time feels right, that is, if there is ever a right time for a manuscript to feel ready. Today marked a new milestone in our ongoing conversation.
So rewarding are conversations with others who write that I’m starting to feel as if it’s the process that I’m so attracted to rather than the end result of publishing a book, a short story or poetry. I have a bit of a confession to make here. I have a novel manuscript in full draft, well actually sixth draft. So what stops me from taking the plunge into the icy world of submitting to a publisher (that is, those publishers who still are accepting unsolicited manuscripts …) and being rejected? I’m not really sure but I have a page of excuses that I trot out when someone inquires. The excuses are divided depending on the status of the inquirer and if they are a writer or a non-writer…the later goes something like this…
‘How’s your book coming along?’ (Is she really writing a book?)
‘Oh, not too bad, I’m in sixth draft, I just need a block of time… and …yep it’s going okay’. (Shut up about my ….. book!)
How long have you been at it now?’ (Can’t believe it)
‘Oh, five to six years, off and on…but you know, novels take a long time to write’ (Mine certainly ….. well does anyway!)
‘Oh well’ as long as you enjoy it, I guess (Pathetic)…
Then there is the response when another writer asks me about my writing, it’s more likely to follow this line…
‘How’s the drafting?’
‘Not too bad, a bit concerned about the middle chapters and need to change some of the timelines…but hopefully I’m ready to do one last edit.’
‘You sound a bit ambivalent’
‘Yep, having a crisis of confidence, can’t decide if it’s up to the mark or not? Structurally I know it’s fine, the plot is strong but at times I struggle with the main protagonist…there is weakness that bothers me, hence the redrafting I suspect.’
‘Someone once said you have to brave to be a writer, to put yourself out there for everyone to critique…’
Yes, I suspect it’s a matter on engaging with the courageous self rather than the doubting cautious part.’
And on it goes… You see there is a fascinating process that unfolds around the efforts of writing. There are literally thousands of ideas, views, techniques, formulas and theories on writing practice. However the actual process that surrounds writing and what it means to the thousands of ordinary people like me who write, is often not talked about enough. Well, that’s my view anyway.
I’ve heard published writers say that when their work is accepted for publishing they experience a ‘funny’ sort of separation loss. Loss of the work and possibly the process that held them (nightmarish for some) for months and years. Hence most writers keep writing. Perhaps the engagement that is present in the process of writing is actually the essence of writing although I know for most writers the aim of publishing represents achievement if not ultimate success.
I suppose because writing is such a personal and individual activity, the need to discuss with others is simply seeking fuel and stimulation required to continue the journey. Also, I suspect there is a need for some sort of reasurance and common identification with others about an activity and process that is mostly an isolated pursuit.
Yep, talking about writing is enjoyable and necessary for me…even if the book reaches draft twenty five…I’m having fun talking about it.