The Creative Process. Right Now? It Sucks.


In case you haven’t gotten it yet, the life of a writer isn’t all bon-bons and big checks and champaign parties in New York City at the publisher’s. Between’s David’s worry about his fab urban fantasy that hasn’t yet sold, to Catie’s revelation during an impossible writing schedule, to, well, this post, I say, “It ain’t easy.”


No. It is work. And impossible schedules. And rewrites from hell.


I am in the middle of one such rewrite. The rewrite sucks so badly it makes me scream. But I know that the editor (with whom I’ve worked for a number of years and 8[?] books) is right about all her suggested changes. All 5 pages, single-spaced, changes.


And? Right now all I can think is – I am such a stupid-awful-poor writer. Why do I do these things? Why do I bother to write? I suck so bad at writing that I deserve to be kicked into the sewer. How could I have missed that? And that?


And, wait! Why can’t she see *that*???? It is so freaking obvious. Isn’t it? Oh. Wait. Crap. *slaps own head* It isn’t obvious. Is *that* what I wrote? No way….


Here’s one example of my editor’s suggestions (sans spoilers):

  1. One key point that needs consideration is the final revelation of what happened.  I had trouble believing that so many people could have been involved in ___’s murder and no one cracked and told. I’d like to suggest simplifying this and making ______ the main suspect.  Here’s one possible scenario that occurred to me: 


And she makes an obvious suggestion. So obvious that, *why didn’t I see it????*


I don’t deserve to be allowed to breathe. I stink as a writer.


Wait… I can fix that! Of course! I can make that bothersome complaint go away! Whoowhoo!


So now I am on the way back up, on that emotional rollercoaster ride of the creative process. I love my job. I hate my job. I’ll be finished with the rewrite next week some time. Probably. And I’ll love the book so much more than I do now.


Sigh. I need a beer.

It’s five p.m. somewhere, isn’t it?


Back to work.



8 comments to The Creative Process. Right Now? It Sucks.

  • Oh, God, how I feel your pain. 🙂

  • Ever since I was writing my doctoral dissertation in history (1990-93) and would turn in chapters to my dissertation advisor one by one, I have wished for that day when my editor (or advisor) would read the thing, give it back to me, and say, “David, this is perfect. Don’t change a word.”

    One dissertation and ten books later I’m still waiting. When I take my camera out and take pictures, I’m delighted if I have one truly excellent shot out of 20. 1 out of fifty is closer to my average. And from all I know about photography, even the greats only keep 1 out of 10. My brother is a painter. He does lots of good paintings, but there are some that he reworks again and again, and some that he trashes, and a few that he chooses to frame and send on to a gallery.

    As writers we don’t have that luxury. We don’t get to write a bunch of books and then decide which are the keepers and which we should trash. Every book takes us months (unless you happen to be Catie, in which case a weekend ought to do it…. 🙂 ) and so every book has to be a keeper. Rewrites, as you well know, Faith, are part of the process. They hurt. They challenge our confidence, they make us question our own ability to critique our work. But most importantly they expose our humanity. No, you’re not perfect. Sorry. But you’re damn good at what you do. And needing help to tease out the greatness of this newest work is just part of the process. So suck it up and get it done. And by the time I’m drinking with you in Denver, you’ll be so proud of this book you’ll be ready to bust.

  • Faith, I know this is bad, but your post has given me hope…. sorry, but if you have to go through this then it means that I’m just normal, everyone goes through it.. And yes we all think we suck as writers every other second of the day, the times when we think we’re doing well, they need to be savoured because hiding behind the couch is a huge pile of reality about to descend upon us…

  • Beatriz

    Faith, not that it will make you feel at all better, but I’m going through a very similar thing at my job. I redesigned the training materials I use and I’m piloting them this week– and have already discovered (and had other people point out) all sorts of glaring errors, boo-boos, mis-steps, places where *I* thought everything was perfectly clear, only to discover it ain’t.

    Guess that was all just a long way of saying I feel your pain.

    Hang in there. Your readers will be glad you did!!!!!!!!!!

  • I was singing “It’s my rewrite and I’ll whine if I want to…” this morning, but I’m better now. Thanks to ya’ll. And a really good day at the PC. Only 200 more pages to go on the second run through.

    Thanks ya’ll…
    Faith — who now has a song stuck in her head.

  • PS to my first post today.

    I have now gone back over number four to find that only 2 people knew about the murder, because the others were upriver. But obviously that fact wasn’t clear enough. Hence the benefits of a good editor.

  • *laughs* Two weekends, David. I need at least two weekends. 🙂