WRITING IS RIDICULOUSLY DIFFICULT. It involves good planning on matters of character, scene, plot, crucible, denouement, dialogue, fictive reality and such like mechanics; it calls for meticulous research; it requires obsessive editing; it needs forethought on matters of contacts, capacity building of potential buyers, relationship building bordering on psychotic sycophancy; it needs so much work that almost nobody but the very brave, talented, lucky or all three can do it. Writing is ridiculously difficult: really?
If you don’t plan the mechanics of your writing, does it all dissolve into an unsaveable soup? This is not a new argument. NaNoWriMo has been advocating for a lack of planning, writing as it comes, for years. It’s also not an argument condoning a lack of thinking. Sometimes the mechanics of a written piece just ‘sing’ to the writer. It is appropriate to be so flowery in an article of this subject matter.
Meticulous research has its benefits. How can a writer know about Polish émigrés, for example, if the history isn’t looked up? There’s always a counter-argument though: can too much research just stifle the story that’s beginning to flower? How many times have you stopped writing to check up a fact on a search engine and then found you lost the quality of it all on subsequent re-reading?
Editing is good. Editing is our friend, let’s be clear. Taken to its logical extreme, however, obsessing over the minutiae is one step too far. Now, I’m well aware that I’ve written elsewhere on the importance of selecting good and correct words. I stand by that, but editing so much that the lifeblood of the poor creature is sucked out completely is, frankly, disconcerting.
There is something to be said for developing a good sound base of believers who might want to buy your writing. Ebook writers, for example, can benefit. However, it’s one thing developing a flourishing network and quite another developing a flourishing fiction. The story is the baby that needs the most love.
To think the business of writing is the sole reserve of the brave, talented and lucky is somewhat foolhardy. Great words can be written by the timid (they just might gather a little more dust); the talented are not always those whose work is on the shelf (think of ‘celebrity’ spin-off novels); luck is a matter of perspective – we make our own luck.
Writing is ridiculously difficult if the writer thinks it so. Life is what we make it. Sure, there are obstacles to overcome on the journey – that can’t be denied – but writing is something done, something engaged in: it is a matter of laying down what feels right; of not over-cooking reality at the expense of the fictive; of letting the creature we create breathe and be; of giving love to what most needs it; of knowing you are a writer if you want it to be that way.
– Dean Cody Cassady