On Writing

Go where the pain is

This is a quote from Anne Rice who was told this by a teacher of hers and she found it useful and passed it on. A few days into my second nanowrimo writing marathon (while continuing to update a Wattpad story) I can relate to it.

I described my take on writing recently to a fellow writer as a painful obsession.

A painful obsession is perhaps analogous to a long distance runner (it’s been a long time since I’ve done any strenuous exercise so maybe that’s not the best example). All you have to do to stop the pain is to stop the activity, which is exactly what keeps you going.

Writing isn’t easy. This morning I awoke from a nightmare (I have them often, so much so that some mornings I awake feeling like I just ran a marathon which makes my statement in the previous paragraph rather fallacious). At 4:30 am I was drinking coffee and chasing away the demons by writing them all down. I find that the dungeon sex scenes flow easily under these circumstances; the love scene in the garden not so much, but still you push through. Whatever scene I’m working on I  find it easier to do it early in the morning before the world rushes in with its distractions.

Sometimes it isn’t a nightmare that gets me up at 4:30 am but because I’m really excited to discover what my character will do next. That’s a good place for a writer to be. 

Ah, characters! I do love my characters! They can be all that I can’t be in my daily life because I am far too polite, far too socialized to tell that asshole to fuck off. But my characters can and they do. They get beat up too in the way I feel beat up sometimes. They also get their revenge, in sometimes very bloody, violent ways which can be tremendously fun and cathartic.

Another part of the pain and the obsessions is just showing up, every day to write, even when you don’t feel like it. But, like the great Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing (and I’m paraphrasing): if you show up at the same place and time every day, chances are the muse will too. My experience has taught me that this is true.

A lot of people never create because they are afraid to face the criticism. This is the first hurdle, and once you pass it you realize it’s not the criticism you really needed to fear, it’s the void. The void is the realization that once you’ve overcome all your resistance and you’ve actually written your great masterpiece no one will care. Very few people will read it. Maybe if you’re lucky, your mom will. And afterwards she may suggest, as mine did, that you need psychological help.

If you can face the void with your bowels and sense of humor intact, move forward to the next round and get down to work. If not, do your nails or go shopping. There are better things in life than painful obsessions.


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