Sunday, July 14, 2013

Writing Books

Do you ever wonder how on earth people manage to write an entire book?

I do.

I can't see how they don't just get bored and give up. It happens to me. Every time I sit down and try to write something, I get maybe eight chapters in and just dies. I die off even sooner if I go back and read what I've written. Anything I write after that point seems forced and doesn't flow the same way. If I keep going then eventually I just...get tired.

It's not like I don't plan where it's all going. I map everything out so that if I get lost or forget something, I can check my thought web and get right back to where I was supposed to be. But even with the best and most awesome thought web of all time (it was pretty freakin' epic, let me tell you) I only got twelve chapters in, and then the will to write it just left.

I do that. I will suddenly have an intense desire to tell a story, and I will go with it for weeks and weeks and weeks...

And then I will wake up one morning, sit down, and I won't have a damn thing to write. 

I'm not a writing machine or anything. Even during my "productive phases" I change things and delete and rewrite. On a good day, I'd get half a page done. On a GREAT day I'd get half a chapter. There was one day in particular I wrote a whole chapter from start to finish in three hours, and I felt like it was the best chapter in the history of the world! I never went back and changed that particular chapter. To this day, I still think it is absolutely perfect.

On my worst days, I sometimes only get one or two sentences that I keep, and the rest gets deleted. 

That's another reason not to go back and reread the whole thing. You tend to change things and then you lose what you were trying to do and then the web doesn't matter anymore and you're left with one big forced story that you hate.

Except for the one chapter that is still the most awesome chapter ever written. 

My sister suggested maybe I should try writing historical fiction. She thinks I'd be great at that since I spend a lot of my time reading the genre, and then complaining that the author didn't get something right, or in some cases, failed to capture the subject of the story correctly. (I have never read a story about Anne Boleyn that didn't annoy the living hell out of me at one point or another.)

The problem with that is you can't just write a historical fiction. Even if you choose a subject you know all about and you can just go with it, you can't write it like that. You have to give credits and whatnot. And if you pick a subject you've been obsessed with for your whole life, how are you supposed to remember where you read every single fact you've accumulated over the years? Historical fiction means research, lots of research, even if you already know everything you intend to put in your story. That, to me, means all the fun of just writing gets sucked out of it. 

And if it's not fun, what's the point? 

I have kept every single story I've ever started on my computer. And sometimes, when I'm out of books to read and don't feel like rereading any that I own, I go back and I read them. There are a couple that I read that I just get pissed off at myself for not finishing. It annoys me that I can't finish the story because I never finished the story! But I can't just pick up and start working on it again. Like I said, it never works out. It feels forced. 

So, I know some of you have actually written your own books. I want you to tell do you do it?  

And something else important...Is this just me?


  1. Don't feel too bad.

    I've been wanting to tackle a novel for some time now, and I've been having trouble even getting started. I've been trying to come up with a couple of ideas a week and working out the basic plots, hoping that I'll come up with something that I'll really want to write.

    Historical fiction is a great genre and one I like too. Me, I just hate doing the kind of research that would be involved in something like that, or at least I'm not quite sure where to start.

    But I don't know that you have to cite all your research sources for a work of fiction, like the way you've said -- I mean, legally. All writers tend to do a certain amount of research, but I can't remember reading a whole lot of novels with long bibliography listed in the back. Think of Gone with the Wind. There's all kinds of facts about the Civil War and Reconstruction and whatnot, but I don't see a single reference cited. At least not in the copy I have.

    At any rate, I wouldn't let it hold you back. I'd be the first in line to read a book like that from you. Honestly.

  2. I wrote a book, but I haven't even looked at it for years. It was a bit of an obsession until it was finished, and then I decided it needed some major changes. Well, that fizzled out pretty quickly and I haven't looked at it since. Sad, really.

    I think writing a book takes a lot of self-discipline. Every writer I've ever read about says you just have to treat it like a job. Set aside the time, and write! Most importantly, write about something that you really care about. Write for you, and no one else.

    Of course, that's easy for them to say...


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