|Knocking on Heavens Door (c) bschwehn|
Humans are weird. Or maybe it’s just our brains that are the weird part.
Think about it for a second. We all exist in the same world. In theory, we see the same things and have access to the same information. However, show two people the same painting, make them listen to the same song, or make them read the same book and chances are they won’t be able to agree on whether or not that thing is any good. We call it subjectivity, but really it’s just strange.
The same thing applies to writing. Ask two authors what their favorite/least favorite part of the process is and chances are they’ll disagree. Even if they agree (there are only so many parts to the process), they’ll probably hold that opinion for very different reasons.
Personally, my favorite parts of the writing process (that I’ve experienced thus far) are the beginning of a new book and revising with notes from a trusted editor. When I start a new project, I get to dig into a new character’s head and figure out why they only listen to classical music and whether or not they’d go skydiving if given the chance. It’s all new and interesting and full of possibilities and the pressure is low. It’s all about inspiration and following the moment or the character wherever they want to take me. When I’m revising, the road has already been cleared, I know the characters, and I have a map telling me where I need to go. I get to fix all those problems I knew existed but couldn’t pinpoint while I was drafting and the whole book shines that much brighter when I’m done. It’s a fantastic feeling!
Not every part of the process is that blissful. Especially not for me. The worst for me is after I pass the beginning of a first draft. 99% of the time, I know where the book is going to end. I see it, sometimes in a lot of detail, so I know where these characters I’ve thrown together need to go. The problem? How the %^&* do I get them there? Once I hit the wall following the inspiration that brought me into the world of that particular story, I have to actually figure things out. I have to make sure it all makes sense. Most of all, I have to pinpoint the “moments”–the important ones in the lives of these characters that are the key turning points between points M and Z. For me, that’s the hardest part of the entire process. Slogging through the middle is like trying to find the shore when you’re stuck in a riptide (which sucks. Trust me. I’ve been there).
Of course, that’s exactly where I am with two of my current projects.
Book 2 of The Dream War Saga is about 3/5 done. I have the beginning and I have the final chapter. The middle is filled with broken bits and pieces that have to be strung together somehow. The other WIP (which I’m just calling Project 1 for now) is about 1/2 done. I have this one basically plotted, but writing it is still going to be a challenge, especially since this book is really different from any other project I’ve ever completed. At least my co-written contemporary is in the editing stage! I think I might go a little crazy if all three of my projects were stuck in the middle.
Hard or not, the middle is kind of important. It’s not like I can skip it and hope no one notices. Every job comes with pros and cons, parts that make you giddy and parts that make you want to cry, so I just have to lock my hands to my keyboard and push through. And then wait to make the sucky parts shine when I get to edit!
Does anyone else hate middles or is it just me? o.O?