I’ve talked to writer friends of mine about how the metaphor of a romantic relationship works eerily well to describe the process of writing a book. At the risk of freaking people out by this, I thought I would share our observations with you:
Curiosity/Flirtation: I find myself drawn to a particular story, character or idea. I’m not sure yet if it will be any good for me, or whether or not it will work out, but I’m definitely intrigued. I research the idea, consider it, eager to learn more. It’s like we’re at a cocktail party and I’m chatting up the idea, trying to impress it, trying to gauge it’s potential.
Inspiration/Infatuation: If I’m lucky, inspiration will strike. It’s not always immediate (in fact, I think it rarely is) but suddenly I’m obsessed with an idea. I fall for it, head over heels. I can’t stop thinking about it, and want nothing more than to spend time writing it. I can only hope that the feeling will last. I don’t know what exactly sparks this magic. For The Blood Confession it was the idea of constructing Erzebet’s skewed, dangerous logic, as well as tying in the fairy-tale elements that was part of the excitement. With The King’s Rose (which should be out next year) I was intrigued by a historical character, eager to tell her story in my own way.
Love: As the relationship continues, of course it hits a few snags along the way. Sometimes it drives me crazy. Sometimes I think to my idea “you’re too clever and good for me and I fear I’ll let you down.” Other times I think, “you’re a pain in my ass and you don’t treat me as well as you should.”
The end of the affair: At a certain point, if all goes well, then I’ll see the project to fruition and the book will be finished. Ideally, I’ll have a new idea to replace the old. It’s like high school: if the object of my devotion failed me in some way, the pain was alleviated if I had another crush to distract me. But this can still be a difficult time. As excited as I may be about moving on to something new, it’s difficult to separate myself from a project after spending so much time with it.
Of course, there plenty of ways in which a real relationship is better–if more complicated–than a book, but I still find the metaphor oddly accurate. At the moment I’m suffering the “I’ll never love another the way I loved you” phase with the book that is nearing completion. But I remind myself (frequently) that this is how I felt after my first book was finished, so I shouldn’t be too alarmed. It’s all a part of the cycle.