One of my goals for the year is to slowly evolve into more of a writer. I’ve always wanted to be a writer but never seemed to make the time to do it properly. I love reading, always have a couple books going, and it’s been a dream to write my own novels.
There’s nothing wrong with blogging, in fact I enjoy it quite a bit… but blogging isn’t necessarily writing in my mind. Oh, there are some fantastic writers who blog and some bloggers who write extremely well, but in my opinion there’s a world of difference between writing a journal (or blog) and writing a book, story, or poem (Don’t get me started on the differences between those formats, I’ve got some strong opinions.).
So, I’ve been putting aside time for just writing. I even joined a few writing groups to keep my motivation up.
My daughter loves to read and now lives thousands of miles away from me. I thought a fun project would be to write a story for her. It would be a way for us to connect despite the distance.
When I started writing her story I thought it would end up a short novella, I’d do some illustrations and call it a day. I thought it would be maybe a couple weeks of work. Yeah… not so much. I’ve been working on it for the last three months and it’s not even close to done yet.
As I got writing the story kept getting bigger and longer. 30 pages, 40 pages… 60 pages… and the story kept going.
I’ve read a few books on writing and one of the things that fascinated me was when authors would talk about their characters surprising them. How is that possible? It surprised the hell out of me when it happened the first time. The characters kept making interesting decisions, the plot kept turning on it’s own, developing in new directions, and each day of writing revealed hidden surprises.
90 pages… 100 pages…
It’s up to about 140 pages now and I’m only now getting into the meat of the story. This little project is turning into quite the production. The story is ridiculously rough and yet I need to finish the full draft before I can even start the process of editing.
This whole thing has been a serious learning process for me. Previous to this story most of the writing I’d done was 6-10 pages with the longest being maybe 30 pages. Working on something this large, there have been so many things that never even occurred to me. The bigger the story gets the more unwieldy the whole thing feels. It’s so freaking BIG. It’s like trying to juggle all these balls that keep getting larger and heavier the longer I go.
I thought of a good metaphor this afternoon after writing group got out.
Have you ever done any carving? You start out with one large block of wood and gradually whittle away the excess to reveal the subject.
Writing a book is like carving but first you have to build the block from scratch, piece by piece. Each word building and building and building until you have one large, undefined mass. All that work just to get to the starting point, because you still have to do all the carving, the editing. You have the block but it needs drastic shaping, whittling away all the bullshit to reveal the story.
That’s where I’m at right now, only half way done piecing together the block. I keep writing and writing and every day it’s a reminded of how much more work needs to be done. Every word I write now, the longer the story gets, the bigger the block gets and the more carving will need to be done later.
The whole writing thing is way more difficult than I’d ever imagined and yet I find it’s extremely rewarding at the same time. When it’s done, I will have lovingly crafted every single word. Every pen stroke, every correction, every plot twist, and every word spoken by every individual character… every single tiny piece pulled forth from my mind and shaped to form one complete work.
I only hope my daughter enjoys reading it as much as I’m enjoying writing it.
**Side note: I purposefully borrowed the title “On Writing” from Stephen King’s book. It’s fantastic and a huge inspiration to me, as is the author himself.**