I’m lucky. I really enjoy my job(s). I love teaching because I get to interact with students, work with literature, and I love the performance aspect of the job.
But what is it about the writing that I love so much?
To be honest, a lot about writing can be frustrating. There’s the fact that, comparatively, I spend less time writing than I do with other writer-related things. Indeed, the raw-act-of-creation-type-writing is about one tenth of the job. The rest of it is outlining, pre-writing, rewriting, revising, editing, proofing, copyediting, writing back copy, promoting, et cetera. These things aren’t entirely frustrating, and oftentimes they lend themselves to their own types of pleasure. But the fact remains that writers actually write comparatively little when set against everything else they have to do in order to be published.
The way I get through the minor frustrations is how most people cope: I focus on the joys. The fact is, that one-tenth of the time I get to create-write is such a pleasure. I love sitting down and thinking up new scenarios that will shed light onto character’s hitherto unacknowledged darknesses. I love dreaming up conversations in which characters say all the things I wish I could say. But even better is when I go back and ruffle those conversations up, to make them more realistic and less of a fantasy. In doing so, I get that initial chance to be stunningly articulate, while later acknowledging and accepting the limitations that make up reality, at least as it is perceived by me.
Oftentimes, I admit, I work through things that are bothering me, touch upon memories that are either precious or that hurt, or I imagine things that I would like, one day, to happen. Of course, I then have to make these experiences and fantasies not-mine; I have to make them into Jane’s, or Iris’s, or Grizelda’s. In doing so, I can often play devil’s advocate to my own perceived ambitions or desires. I can work through, imaginatively, what it would be like to get what I wanted. Oftentimes, I discover that what glitters is actually dusted with those crappy sparkles that stick to everything, and never wash out of my hair.
I also get to “read” my characters, to a certain extent, as I imagine my readers do. Sometimes I want Jane to do one thing. Halfway through the scene, however, I realize Jane would never do what I want her to do, she’d do what Jane wants to do. That was absolutely the way book three ended, for me. I had no idea you-know-who was going to do you-know-what to you-know-who. She just did it, and I was like, “Holy shit!” and she was all, “Hahahahaha! You thought you could write me, did you!”
When that happens, there is much joy. There’s also horror, as I realize I now have no idea where books five and six are going, without you-know-who in the role I thought she was playing. But mostly there’s joy. Because if a character can feel that real to me, I’m hoping she feels that real to my readers.
So that’s a few of the things I get from writing, and I do take huge pleasure in it. In fact, I’m most chuffed when I receive a note or a review that says, basically, “I like reading your work because I can tell you like writing it.” I know I’ve felt that way about certain authors I love: I can practically see their gleeful little faces all lit up with pleasure behind their writing.
Have you ever felt that way about a particular writer, as if you could feel their joy in their words?