It is a truth universally acknowledged that writing is damn hard.
Okay, so I’m paraphrasing.
Many a well-meaning friend and family member equate writing to sitting at home in your pajamas all day.
“You looked relaxed,” they tell me.
Admittedly, I do look relaxed – but rest assured, I am not.
“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” That is a real, non-paraphrased quote from Zora Neale Hurston. I first saw it in a Oprah magazine. I ripped out the page and tacked that sucker to my wall. I’m looking at it now.
Agony is a strong word and a fitting one. Whether in a first draft or fifth, writing is physically painful process. For me, it feels like an ache at the center of my chest. That ache goes away when I type a new scene, strengthen a line of dialogue, or delete a chunk of text in favor of a better one.
Writing is also emotionally painful. Of course it is! Writing means putting your mind, ideas, and (yes) heart onto a page for other people to read. WITH THEIR EYES. I mean, who does that?
Writers, that’s who.
As of right now, December 14, 2015, my most painful writing experience has been creating the draft I am working on now. The 75+ rejections I’ve received to date pale in comparison to the agony of this particular story untold.
Does this mean this manuscript, when finished, will be my best? I don’t know. Does it guarantee it’ll be published? Of course not.
But Hurston didn’t say “book unread” or “manuscript unpublished”. She said “story.” And that’s just it – this story which I love has been in my head, tossing and turning for years, is finally getting it out. Any way you slice it, creating this draft is a personal endeavor – but one that I don’t mind grappling with.
Why? Because I’m a writer. Pain – emotional, physically, or otherwise – is part of the game. And I love, love, love it. Even when I hate it, I love it.
Writers will tell you their work is hard. Believe them. They will tell you they love what they do. Believe that, too.