Why do we do this, again?


I’ve talked a lot–and no doubt will talk more, eventually–about how, at the heart of it, being a novelist is just a job like any other. How you have to sit down and get the job done when you never want to type another word, when you never want to *think* about story again, when you never want to worry about characterization or plot holes. It’s just a job.

Once in a while, though, you get days like I had today.

Today I wrote a scene that I’ve been anticipating for years. It played out *nothing* like my original drafts. Everything about it is different from what I thought it was going to be. It’s all a surprise, even though I’ve been waiting to write it for years.

And it’s wonderful.

Oh, I don’t know that the writing is terrific. I’m sure it can take some revisions, and there may be things in the lead-up that don’t need to be there. It’s not the Perfect Moment of writing where a hundred thousand words of story culminates into the apex. But the sheer glow of getting to a bit of the story that’s been waiting patiently, the delight of putting it down on the page and knowing its shape, the anticipation of things to come because of this moment…it’s wonderful. Leading up to it today made me happy, getting there made me happy, I’ve just been happy all day because of this one little bit of writing.

This is a *hard* job. I’ve been doing it long enough at this point that I don’t get that glow from finishing a manuscript anymore–frankly, I know I can do it, and the fact that I’ve finished one mostly just means I have to start another–and so a day like today, when I really do get that reward of “yay, this is fun!”, it really means a lot to me.

Hang on to those moments, people. Revel in them. *Especially* if you’re just starting out, because they do come fewer and farther between. Congratulate yourself on your successes. Share them with other people–with us here at MW, if nobody else. They’re important celebrations, even if they’re small.


6 comments to Why do we do this, again?

  • Very cool, Catie. Those moments are rare, and like you, I carry them with me for days afterward, savoring that feeling, buoyed by the realization that yes, I do love my job. I hope the next one comes sooner than you expect and lasts longer than you could have hoped. We’ll look forward to hearing about it when it happens….

  • Yea, Catie! (claps hands)
    I feel the glow with you!

  • I love the [nearly] mystical moments when — as it’s pouring out of my fingertips so fast I can barely keep up — when my characters surprise/shock/horrify me. Often a story arc or a character arc twists itself in a completely unanticipated direction. I need a sign in my writing room that reads “Caution: Blind Curve Ahead”.

    But I hafta do this. If I don’t, I’ll never learn how the story ends.

  • Well, I hope you can capture that feeling more often. It’s great when doing what we love actually FEELS like doing what we love. 🙂

  • Too true. Nothing quite like those ‘writerly’ moments. I also like moments when I get to educate people (I’m an aspiring teacher as well), when you put something out there, and you realize that they ‘got it,’ whatever that it might be. I got to do that the other day in a writerly way when I passed along an idea to one of my favorite agent bloggers, Nathan Bransford (he has one of the best publishing industry oriented blogs out there imo). He loved my idea, and set it up as a contest on his blog. If you check it out, it’s the ‘Agent for a Day’ contest. My hope was that it would educate writers about how difficult the query process is on the agent’s end, that people really need to cut them slack about form rejections and the time they can take to respond, and given the comments from participants, the mission was accomplished. Lots of folks came away with a greater appreciation for the work agents do. It was a definite feel good moment for me to know I was at least partially responsible for a lot of people learning something new and important about the writing process.

  • I don’t really even think form rejections would bother me all that much. Not getting one at all and never hearing from them would be worse, IMO. Then you’d have to wait an indeterminate time before you decide to send it somewhere else. Some places say how long to wait, some don’t.