When I was first married, I had a short fuse with a long grudge. My husband would start out, “Patience is a virtue,” to which I’d finish, “that I don’t have.”
However, the more I hang around writers, the more I realize the patience and tenacity it takes to see the idea through to completion. I used to be one of those readers who scoffed at people whose writing content seemed substandard compared to others. Shame on me. Now when I hear folks slight a writer, I flinch, and often speak up. It may not be high on the classics list, but anyone who has taken an idea and FINISHED the story, let alone found an editor who helped them get it to publication, is worthy of some amount of respect in my book. Regardless of how I feel about the content.
Sitting under Dave Wolverton’s tutelage this past week, I got to hear all sorts of fascinating stories on how bestsellers have come to be. For instance, J.R.R. Tolkien had a part of the saga unwritten for over a yr. (Sorry – I have a lot of stories in my head and can’t remember which part – I think Mordor but I could be wrong.) Then he had an experience that gave him what he needed to finish the part. I had never thought of Tolkien’s writing process and decided to look it up – do you realize the man took 10 years to write LOTR? And then the fights with the publishers that ensued afterward. Wow.
When Dave told us that story, I was amazed. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself because it seems to take so long to get what lives in my head written. I begin to doubt I’m the right person to tell this story. Maybe I don’t have what it takes. Maybe I’m not good enough.
Which is ridiculous. If I wasn’t the right girl to tell the story, it wouldn’t have come to me in the first place.
My sister mE commented last week on my own gestation period. I was telling her the back story that was finally shaping up in my mind. She said she couldn’t believe how much the story had changed from its original conception. It went from a simple ghost story to now no ghosts, but a rather large (some might call it epic – not sure about that. Define epic?) contemporary fantasy. The more I change it and “discover” the back story, the more excited I get. I have had ideas that came from really weird places, but as I do the research, I begin to see how it all fits together. Maybe the stories do write themselves. Maybe writers are simply vessels to help the public know they’re there. Kinda like Michelangelo uncovering David.
All I know is, I don’t get frustrated when I’m stuck on an idea anymore. Instead, I go work on another part of the novel. Invariably, how to get unstuck comes. With patience, and a little tenacity. 😉
I can see that this is very quickly going to become one of my favourite writing blogs.
You are completely right about affording a writer respect for finishing a novel. Critics (and even readers) can be merciless when dissecting a work. Show some respect for the amount of work that’s gone into it, people!
I am familiar with the Tolkien story. When you look at how rich The Lord of The Rings is with regard to everything from characterisation to setting, it is not surprising it took him ten years to write it.
My favourite writers all take a good two years to write a novel. I don’t see how people can write one every six months – it takes that long for one of my ideas to ferment.
Oh, and you should be excited. I feel great things in the winds for you….
I am excited for you…Chin up, shoulders straight, My thumbs are up…go girl
Ooooohhh…. I love love love this blog! And I whole heartedly agree with Selma… this is my first time reading this blog and it is already a favorite! Thank you so much for sharing it with me.
I have heard about Tolkien’s struggles but I didn’t realize that it took him 10 years! What inspires me most about his story is his friendship with C.S. Lewis. If C.S. Lewis didn’t exist, LOTR wouldn’t exist for he greatly encouraged his friend Tolkien and helped him with his writing. An amazing story of friendship, wouldn’t you say?
I agree with you about giving props where props are due. Anyone who finishes a work and gets it published is… well, pretty cool in my book 🙂
Selma – your words are written hugs. Thank you so much for the encouragement. I never paid much attention to the process before, even though I have always read author’s biographies. Somehow the bigger picture eluded me. Wake up call! 😀
Mom – I thought you were going to say, “A toot-a-ta, a toot-a-ta” like you did when we were kids. lol!
Elizabeth – Thank you! I do think that’s admirable of CS Lewis. To be able to set aside pride to help another achieve their best is not an everyday occurrence. Excellence breeds excellence!
Question: can anyone tell me how to get my photo onto the comments? I can’t seem to work that one out… but it’s on the tool bar. How’d I manage that one? :S
Hi Aine. Just wanted to let you know how to get your photo up. Go into your WordPress Dashboard and click on Settings, then General Settings. You can see there is a button there to upload your photo. Alternatively, you can upload an avatar via Gravatar, which is what I use. You can find them at http://en.gravatar.com.
Hope this helps 😀
Thank you! I’ll be trying that here in a bit. Right now I’m trying to finish a fiction piece I’ve spent a few days on. Funny, but now that my actual name is going to it, I’m being a whole lot more self-conscious! lol!
Hello – I found you from your mom’s blog!
Will check out your other posts.
I love your header pic.
Just thought I’d let you know, it took me 15 years to write my first book (actually only book so far). I started, put it down, life happened, started up again, put it down, got fed up, and finally finally finished it. Now I’ve found a wonderful publisher and I’m on my way!
Happy Blogging (oh, blogging has helped my writing a thousandfold)!
Wendy, I’m so glad you *found* me! I appreciate you telling me that – it gives me hope! The mantra really is “Never Give Up, Never Surrender”, isn’t it?! I will be sure to come visit your blog soon. 🙂