Nancy: When Your Book Is a Moody Teenager

You’ve probably heard some writers say their books are like children. If that’s the case, my current WIP is definitely in the cranky teenager stage.

In it’s nascent stage, I was content to nest and let the story incubate, finally letting it hatch when I knew the idea was ready to come out of my head and onto the page. Then there were the heady, frenetic days of discovery, of getting to know this baby story, of giving it guide rails and parameters as it grew from a blob of words to a someday-could-be-a-readable book, in the form of a weirdly gawky and awkward (I will not use the word ugly!) first draft. Then I assessed and worked and sculpted some more, until I had a reasonably stable story world and through line. In that process, I’d weeded out some unnecessary subplots and exposed some minor plot holes. (And had begun to mix my child metaphor with a gardening one, but stick with me!)

So now my book is on the brink of adulthood. The story is pretty well-formed. It’s easy to see what it will be when it’s finished and where it will find its niche in the world. But there’s stuff still to be done. This is akin to the stage of parenting where we have to nurse broken hearts and teach safe driving and prepare our almost fully-grown progeny for life in the real world. But we’re so close. Easy peasy!

Said no parent of teens or writer of books EVER.

The past several days of writing new scenes to fill the gaps and reroute the story away from now-deleted subplots has been…not so fun. My days begin with high hopes, solid plans, and a clear view of the finish line. They end with too much coffee, sugar binges, and cravings for naps. Long, story brain-obliterating naps. Every scene has felt stilted and off, or has struck the wrong tone, or has left me wondering if this damn story in its entirety even works anymore. It doesn’t want to listen to me, rolls it eyes at me when I’m only trying to do my job, and locks itself in its room while I try to coax it out with love and patience. And more sugar.

Every stage of preparing a book to go out into the world involves challenges, setbacks, and *headdesk* days (or weeks or months). And every time I tell myself this is the part where the writing will get easier, the ghosts of writers past conspire with the petulant gods of story future to ensure this part will, in fact, be the hardest damn thing I’ve ever done. Or at least that’s how it will feel when I’m slogging through it. Much like giving birth and raising children and surviving teenagers, those who have gone before have tried to warn us about just how hard this journey will be, but we don’t really believe or understand it until we’re living it ourselves.

But writing is also amazing, rewarding, exhilarating, and joy-inducing, which are the parts we’ll remember when we start the next story. It’s in our nature to forget the worst of the pain and suffering. Otherwise, we’d never do it again, and then how would new stories be born into the world?

The take-away: Writing is SO f*ing hard! But also totally worth it! Write on with your bad selves.

So how’s your writing going today/this week/this month? Is your current story an ill-behaved handful or a teacher’s pet?

5 thoughts on “Nancy: When Your Book Is a Moody Teenager

    • Lindsay, there is NOTHING harder than finding a weekly blog topic and then doing it justice. This is a pain in the neck for me, every single time, and I have to do it here only every other week. By comparison, writing a book is a snap. Heck, by comparison, writing an encyclopedia is a snap! Keep up the good work.

  1. I don’t know what to think about my stories. One has gone into hibernation, and one has gone from a hibernating teen back to the pregnancy stage — I’m doing more research and probably changing the hero completely. (-: Meanwhile, I’ve almost forgotten the villains! So, I have to go back and read my notes, I guess.

    Those stories really do have minds of their own, don’t they? And, yeah, I feel like it’s going to take eighteen years before I can let mine go free!

  2. Pingback: Kay: Getting There! – Eight Ladies Writing

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