As I mentioned in the comments yesterday, I tend to look for approval from the outside, not quite trusting my own judgement when I approve of something from the inside, so to speak. I think a lot of creative people do.
Before Jeanne’s excellent post popped up, I also ran across the latest installment in The Atlantic’s series on writing. This month, Anna North says, “Writing is the Process of Abandoning the Familiar.” Well, she actually talks about a quote from the Odyssey, about how our hero should take an oar, walk inland, and when people ask, “What the heck is that thing?” he should offer a sacrifice to Poseidon. And, then she meanders around in an entertaining way until she gets to a paragraph near the end which made me feel much better.
It might sound cheesy, but I think writing is a kind of a journey. For me, especially if I’m working on a novel, it takes at least a year of fumbling around before I really get anywhere. As you try to imagine yourself into this world, it’s a process of writing stuff, throwing it out, writing, throwing it out. You’re trying to create this place for yourself inside your head; it’s very hard to get to that place, and it takes a long time to get there. But then, finally, there is the sense that maybe you’ve arrived, though you’ve had to discard a ton of stuff along the way.
And that made everything OK yesterday. I’ve been fumbling around for about seven months, but I have been fumbling every day. I’m finally at the point where I’m letting go of the stuff that isn’t working, and allowing stuff that will work – and work harder – to come in.
A decade ago, I often wondered how it was that writers needed to spend a year writing a book. (-: It only took me five hours to read it, after all. Now I know – the writing is one of the easier parts. It’s building the story that takes a lot of time. Time that can be frustrating and bogged-down and just stand-still at moments – but time that is generally well-spent.
Maybe someday, I won’t need another writer to tell me those things, to give me the permission to explore and journey through my book. But it was very welcome yesterday. Hope it helps you today.