The title above is a quote from Richard Bach, an American author. The topic for this January Round Robin was that
Everybody wants to write a book, but most do not. Writing is hard work. What got you started, and what helps you get through a complete story?
Sometimes I forget how difficult writing actually is. It's more mental strain than physical, but the mental strain can really be something formidable. You get down on yourself when the plot doesn't knit seamlessly, or when your story line goes somewhere you don't want it to. I've been writing with a career mindset since about the seventh grade (I'm currently a college senior, to put that into perspective), and I've written eight complete works and about three short stories. This does not include the countless works left abandoned along the way. The way I've just thought about it, my experience with writing can go into three different categories:
This is the most usual, sadly. This is when I get a random plot idea, just a pinch of character traits or story line. Usually I dream up a character: Oh, a boy who lives alone in the forest named Finn, who always has paint-covered hands, and a loyal dog who protects him from bandits! What is Finn's purpose? I dunno. Why is he alone, why does he have paint covered hands, and how on earth to I turn that into a riveting tale? Usually I get too excited and don't ask myself any of these questions, and then get terribly annoyed when the plot doesn't just lay itself down for my perusal. Finn is a character currently hibernating in a Word Doc from 2013 in my laptop. I haven't deleted him, but I don't think he and his loyal dog Snout are going to be offered to any agents or publishers anywhere in the near future.
There are a good deal more, but I actually plan to resurrect them in the future so I'll just say there are superheroes, heroines who use ASL, pirates, selkies, fairy princes, Outer Banks settings, and haunted little red schoolhouses. I love them, but haven't taken the time to actually figure out what the heck is going on.
The Muse Assist
By "muse assist" I mean something or someone has given me a more than helpful push to get a story done. My novel Shubiao's Girls (coming out this year, fingers crossed) was originally about seven pages of flash fiction. A group of authors were writing scary pieces for Halloween, and I had the idea of what if you should be more afraid of what's IN your bed than UNDER it. I meant it literally, like in your mattress. I didn't know if there was a poltergeist or what, and I didn't think any further than getting those few pages out. However, one of the authors--I know you're a male but I have no recollection of your name and have no idea how to thank you--emailed me and said I should really continue the thread and that he wanted to know what happened next. It rekindled my interest in the characters and I never would've given it a second glance if no one had said anything.
Write Place, Write Time
These are the times that start similar to a burnout, but I hold myself back. For Monet Evanesce, I had the question: Why would you rob a museum? As in really, why? What would be so important that you'd risk everything? I wrote the question down on a piece of paper and scrawled two sides' worth of answers; I had extended family, names, and two main characters/two different timelines. For Serpents and Flame, I was maybe about thirteen or fourteen and was combing snarls out of my hair one day. I'd been reading Greek mythology and had the random thought Man, this would hurt even worse if you had snakes for hair. Incredibly random thought, but then I really wondered how a Gorgon (originally a trio of cursed Athenian women who had snakes for hair, snake tails instead of legs, tusks, and brass claws) would function today. Three books and two short stories later, I'd laughed/strained/cried my way to an answer.
I really think I have to be in the right (write? Haha) mindset to get a story done. I have to love the characters so much that I won't take defeat as an option. When I stop for the day, I usually type the important plot points currently whirling around in my brain so I don't have to start the next writing session at the total blank. Writing is hard. It takes a lot out of you, and you have to be determined and strategic if you want to finish. But when you do finish, you have a wonderful thing in front of you.
Want to read how other maestros of language overcome the difficulties of weaving a tale? Follow along the list below:
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-SK
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/