What’s So Hard About Being a Writer?

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Last night John asked me what, exactly, was so hard about being a writer. “It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” I told him.

“Harder than learning to fly an airplane?” He asked. “Harder than kayaking the Grand Canyon?”

“Absolutely.”

He looked at me skeptically. I told him that today, as I start on my third, and hopefully, final, revision of my manuscript, it will take a great force of will to sit at my computer and face these necessary changes. My editor has given me the gift of a close line edit. This is wonderful. This is fantastic. This is the worst news I’ve had in weeks.

John didn’t understand.

I guess, deep down inside, I was hoping that this last round of revisions would be cursory. It would be practically unnecessary–just a few minor typos here and there and a line or two of revision, and voila! Next stop, galley proofs.

But the road to publication is long. I’ve said this before. It takes multiple rounds of revision, several attempts of coaxing words and sentences into just the right sequence, literally hours with my head in my hands, massaging the pain from between my eyes, full minutes of time staring out my window at the rhythm of snowflakes falling against the already tall piles of snow in the driveway.

And all I really want to do is go outside and breathe.

But instead, I’m here at my computer working (okay, I’m posting on my blog, which is very, very close to working). And I’m grateful to my editor. In the present world of book publication, where publishers no longer edit, promote or do much else for your book, I’m blessed with a publisher doing all that. So I should be happy, right? I should be ecstatic.

And I am. Really.

I’m just mostly glad that, as I look out my window at Crystal Mountain, it’s not a powder day I’m missing out there.

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16 responses »

  1. Stick with it. Your writing is terrific and your efforts appreciated. Just remember without the struggle to succeed, then success wouldn’t feel like such an accomplishment. Good luck, I look forward to a signed copy!

  2. I know how you feel. I need to make a pretty big revision to the middle of my novel, so instead I’ve been procrastinating by working on building up my new blog. This weekend, I will have no more excuses and I’ll have to finally sit down and do what I’ve been putting off.

  3. Add one more to the “I hear you” group. I either get to put on my big-girl panties and overhaul the novel I just finished, or chicken out and start a new one. I wonder if people with other passions get to this place – or is it just us writers? Is it because we pour our souls into these books?

    Hang in there – – it sounds like there are lots of us right there with you – – with butts in the chairs….(even though I’ll be off procrastinating trying to find the end of the internet!)

    Best!
    Jen Greyson
    The Survival Mama

  4. Hear. Hear. I remember your pain. Seven years ago a friend asked my to co-author a technical book he was writing. I jumped at the chance. Then I learned the lesson that you just expressed. WRITING IS HARD. There is nothing so terrifying as a blank computer screen when you are committed to writing 200 pages in the next 100 days.

    Many years ago I heard Jim French interview Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy etc.) on KIRO radio. Jim asked Douglas how he went about the writing process. The answer was very instructive. He said; “The first thing I do is go out and buy a new computer. When I have it all set up and ready to go I sit down, look at the screen for a minute….. and then I go clean out the refrigerator.”

    I hope you make it through the third edit without missing any powder days.

    • Thanks for sharing the Douglas Adams quote, George. So funny I almost spewed my hot chocolate on the coffee house counter. Exactly, precisely, Mr. Adams. Writers spend so much time alone that it’s fun to know, in some ways, we aren’t alone. Here’s my favorite riff on writing avoidance, from the movie “Adaptation,” written by Charlie Kaufman:

      Charlie (Nicholas Cage) at keyboard: “To begin… To begin… How to start? I’m hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. Okay, so I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana-nut. That’s a good muffin.”

  5. Dammit! I was so happy thinking the last was it. I haven’t been able to talk with you in a few days! I am so sorry to hear but just know, you are not missing any incredible skiing out there right now, and you ARE probably better off in the house! 🙂 maybe…..

    This is your dream, it is coming true….long, hard, road, but nothing close to some other roads you have overcome! I am sure it is difficult and frustrating but when you are signing your very own book and selling it to people you will never look back! Hang in there and if you need a quick skin to get outside and get some exercise or a glass of wine, you know who to call. 🙂

  6. Your story is good and I also want to be a famous writer. And one thing,I am nepali.But Istill want to write story in English…….. My future being a famous writer!!

    • Deena,
      Thanks for commenting. Writing in your native language is hard enough, but writing in your non-native language is a grand endeavor. Best of luck to you with your writing. But don’t expect fame. Writers rarely get famous. For that, you have to be a reality tv star. Just fight and drink on television and instantly you can be famous. Or infamous rather. Our culture is quite backwards.

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