October 30, 2007

"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness."

So said George Orwell. And if you don't think so, don't tell Rachel Toor. She might smush your face into something.


tc said...

My dear Ann,

Your book should really destroy that horror known as feminism which is responsible for ALL the excesses of wrongs and evils in the WHOLE wide world today. And that includes forcing women to be and become men as they deny their femininity -as well as the garbage and selfish filth put out by the feminists and the gay, lesbian, transgender... movement, all of which should be consigned to the garbage heap.


Ann Althouse said...

Well, Tom, I'm glad to see that you are editing your comments to a shorter form and staying reasonably relevant. Thanks!

Paul Snively said...

If this poor woman actually found going off course on a marathon, running 35 miles, being out of food, and out of water less painful than writing that column... she desperately needs to find another line of work.

As for the pain of writing, BFD. All creative endeavors, including my chosen field of writing software, are excruciating. You either love it or you shouldn't do it. If that means that those of us who do it are masochists, so what? It doesn't make us either noble or perverted; it makes us masochistic.

Joe said...

She's doing something more than just whining, Paul, and is hardly subtle about it.

Synova said...

I participate (less now that I'm using google-news) on rec.arts.sf.composition. I've heard lots of published writers talk about the work involved in writing. Not a single one suggests that writing is not something they enjoy. Not a single one of them suggests that there are not parts that are, simply put, work.

I'm not clear if this lady is talking about novels or about non-fiction but she teaches creative writing so I'm inclined to think novels are included. (On second read, she's clearly talking about non-fiction. What is she doing teaching creative writing? And yeah... do yourself a favor, Rachel, and get a different job!)

I can see how it might get annoying when people assume that writing isn't work. I've heard published authors complain about that. But generally, if writers didn't enjoy writing they wouldn't do it. (Most of them are not making money at it anyhow, but already have another job to support themselves, or used to.)

Like anyone else working from home friends and family tend to act like you can be interrupted at will. One lady at this fall's science fiction convention here in Albuquerque said that the anticipation of an interruption is enough to make it impossible to write. But she didn't whine about it.

November, in case people didn't know, is National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to encourage people who want to write to silence their inner critic and get a 50k draft of a novel done. There will be (and was last year, in my group) people who are done with 50k words 10 days into the month and have the "novel" available to the world on Lulu on day 11.

There are people who simply love to write and it never seems to occur to them that revision may be necessary or that by putting some work into that first draft they could have something fit for public consumption.

They don't care. It's fun and they want to be on to the next project. And it's really not worth while to suggest revisions to them. The bottom line is that the writing is for them, not a potential audience.

But even people who's goal is publication (not Lulu) and who recognize that a first draft is not a final draft and that revisions happen (even if they are the "rolling" sort that happen as you go) they, too, say things like "I can't wait to see what happens" and "I really like this character." They will say things like, "my character refused to do what I told him to do."

That doesn't make sense at all in non-fiction but in fiction it simply means that the author recognized an incompatibility between the plot and character. The solution may be to revise the plot or it may be to revise the character into someone who will do what the author wants him to do.

I'm not very good at finishing things but... is it obvious that I do, in fact, *enjoy* the process?

I tend to edit and revise blog comments to at least try to keep them focused, but I could easily ramble on for pages about the creative process, both my own and the process related by others who write.