Writing Obsession

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
So I've nearly finished my first novel.
That is one of those things that I never, honestly, thought I would get to say.
I have dreamed about writing books since the time I could hold a pen and string letters together to make words. Ask my Dad if you don't believe me. When I was 8 years old I got very, very mad with him because he packed my story-writing book in the boot of the car when we were returning from holiday. And wouldn't get it out! I remember it like yesterday (not holding a grudge, haha), and the sweet wife of the manager of the camp trying to appease me with some little things she had gathered for me to read on the way home. They were little pamphlets - one was a brochure of the Christmas story - and I kept them for years afterwards, because I used them to write my stories on during the 3 hour drive home.
Writing something worthwhile - worth reading, has been my life-long ambition - top of my bucket list, if you like, but I am a flawed personality and a kind of lazy person, and very undisciplined.

I am not a 'get up at 5am and spend an hour writing' kind of girl, nor do I keep lists and notebooks and planning sheets handy so I can refer back to them.
As an example, when I was studying at university in Hawaii, I started off with an enthusiasm to beat all enthusiasm, but ended up taking my books in my bag down to the beach, with the intention of studying.

No - mostly my ideas are all up in my crazy head, with a very untidy filing system.

It has taken me to the age of 40 to realise that this is my destiny. I have fought it for the last 20 years. I would much rather be a painter of pretty pictures or designer of amazing clothing, or a masterchef - truly. To me that seems a lot less like work than writing does, but God didn't endow me with those gifts, as much as I would like them. I'm not even sure he endowed me with the gift of writing, but it's just something I have to do, so I have begun the climb up the mountain.

The turning point, for me, came at the beginning of the year when someone I really respect, who is clever and a professional and highly educated read something I had written and paid me the best compliment I have ever received. She said, "wow. You have such a gift." Whether that is true or not, it has given me the confidence to go ahead and write something.

So to almost be finished my first novel is a major accomplishment for me. But the creative process can be really, really draining. Did you know that a lot of really great authors actually ended up with a type of depression or go a little crazy for a few months, or shut themselves out of the world. Some of my favourites did - Daphne du Maurier, LM Montgomery, Agatha Christie... just to name a few.
And after these past few months that I've been writing I can kind of understand it now. I'm not saying I'm depressed, because I'm not, but there does come a bit of a dark period when you're finished your work. Triumph yes, but a little low feeling.
I wonder if it's because you have to live two lives while you're writing. You live your real life - like mine, with a husband and kids and dog vet-checkups and food that has to be cooked and sports games to attend, and then you're living this other, alternative life when you sit down at the laptop and dive into the world of your creation. and you have to be all there, or the writing is not 'real,' not authentic. You have to live that world. You have to be those characters. You have to see that place. Some days I have not been a very good wife or mother or housekeeper, because I have become too absorbed in my writing and the world just carries on around me, and I'm oblivious.
I love this quote from one of my favourite mentor authors, Sol Stein: "the reader is looking for an experience."

But for the reader to experience that, the writer has to go there first.

There also comes, inevitably I guess, self-doubt and worry that what you've written is good enough. There are so many brilliant writers out there. Even just in my own little writer's group that I've started going along to - I am blown away by the creative energy and expertise. It's a pretty high standard that some of these amazing writers are setting, and the self-doubt is definitely a real thing.

I am enjoying the creative process of self-publishing a book. Finally, I've finished (or close to it), and now I get to do the fun stuff. The designing of the cover, the website, the dedication, the pricing, the gathering of Beta Readers. My next step is sending it out to my little group of readers. I have a wide range willing to read and give me feedback. My furtherest reader is in France.

I am not looking forward to the editing part. That is the boring, hard part. The "I know I've got to clean up after dinner, but it's just not fun" part.

I'm eager to get on to my next book now. I'm eager to finish this one so I can go to my new world, meet the new people and see what we can do with them.


Heather L. said...

I'm SO excited for you!!!!! Can't wait to read whatever you have written!!! And I can't wait to read everything you write in the future!!

Julia said...

How exciting Rachel..I can't wait to see/read it!

Mother of Pearl said...

That's fantastic!

I always love reading your posts, so I'm the book will be great.

Now, do tell - what is your genre and what is the book about?

MandaBurms said...

You go girl! I'm way proud of you!

Diane N. said...

Hi Rachel,
Actually, what you say about writing makes it more appealing to me. Congratulations on your accomplishment!

Roz said...

this is so exciting - when do we get to read it? You have such a wonderful writing style.

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