When I’m in a phase like this where I’m not writing (it’s valuable to have time away from a project to get a fresh perspective) it’s all to easy for me to romanticize the whole process of writing. My friend Lauren, whose debut novel Nothing Like You will be out this October, is working on a draft of a new project. I keep hounding her with emails: “how is it going? What part are you working on? Tell me about it!” I’m about one crazed email away from asking her what she’s eating while writing.
Writing does seem romantic – especially when you’re not doing it. I’m able to focus only on the good parts of the process, the inspiration and that wonderful sound of the click click of the keyboard and the satisfying fun of digging deep into a character and trying something new. I can conveniently ignore how dreadful it feels when things aren’t going well, and I’m squirming in my seat and all I want to do is leave my desk and eat a whole lot of candy, but I have to force myself to stay put. And sometimes that works and other times I just sit there and eat candy and feel even more miserable. But that’s all part of the process too, nothing terribly unusual.
I was reading The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins (side note: I came home one day from work to find this very book sitting on Tom’s leather chair with my teddy bear and I laughed out loud):
In so many of his poems Collins talks about the act of writing poetry, interspersed with the mundanities of a regular day: the breakfast he ate, the knick knacks on the kitchen shelf. The poem takes place in this domestic scene, and we’re invited into it: not only into the poem, but into the creation of the poem. The fact that I’m completely pining for writing at the moment made me enjoy the poems even more. There is also the novel The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, which includes such a beautiful description of the main character sitting down to write that it made me want to hug the book. I identified so strongly with that wonderful feeling of a perfect writing day, and it made me so happy to be a writer – squirming and candy-eating aside.