Writing vs. Having Written

“It’s not the destination,” they say. “It’s the journey.” I have never believed this, at least not for myself. I’ve never fancied road trips or Lord of the Rings or cruises to islands I don’t care about or any other stories/events/situations that depend on me enjoying the journey instead of the place I’m actually going. I live for the destination, for the end game, and I mean that both physically and metaphorically.

As writers, we should love writing, yeah? We should enjoy the process of tearing down worlds, breathing life into characters, creating something our own. I enjoy this well enough, probably more than most “journeys” I could name, but the real satisfaction comes from having written. I live for that sense of accomplishment, for seeing a 200 page stack of fiction bound on my desk.

I am not excited about the massive rewrite I’m working on. If I was excited, I wouldn’t be procrastinating on editing Chapter Six. But I’m super excited about the future finished version of this draft, and how fun it will be to share  with a new group of betas, and how I’ll be more confident in this draft versus previous ones.

I’m curious about your thoughts. Do you prefer the writing process, or do you live for the finished product?

On a personal note, my short story Goliath was rejected from its first anthology submission. I guess that’s a whole new journey I’m beginning, and I will definitely prefer the destination!

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6 thoughts on “Writing vs. Having Written

  1. Well, you are at the writing process that burns the most. If writing a hundred thousand words doesn’t weed out many potential writers, revision ends the job. I like to think of it like a little monster that makes sure that not everyone get’s to write a book.

    Personally, I absolutely hate revision. Because of my years as an English major both during my under grad and grad program, I’ve gotten away with decent drafts in my first go. Writing something large like you are, however, seems daunting. Currently I am in the last parts of my novel (it’s in the short end, somewhere between 80k-90k), and just thinking about revising that fills me with dread.

    Now, this might be related to my whole definition of what revision is vs editing. To me, revision involves a re-imagining of the story/essay/written piece. So, I can’t even imagine going over it again and trying to change. Just thinking about changing a little detail and then having to go through the entire book in order to fix it scares me.

    So I guess, to answer your questions, I like the first part of the journey, the one where you set out with all these dreams and plans, when you feel unstoppable. The second part of the journey, the one where we have to face our nemesis, that is a completely different story. I hate it. As for the last, watching your goals complete, usually fills me with the same sad nostalgic feeling you get when you finish reading a book series you enjoyed.

    Ultimately, I’m a journey type, I guess, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look forward and desire to finish and see the work complete.

    Sorry about the long response!

    • No problem! I like long comments :)

      I can knock out a fair first draft of a short story, and like you, that’s based on some writing classes I took. Novel, though? Ferrgetabout it. There is so much “I’m going to use clunky telling here just to get through this scene” in a first draft. Partially, that’s because I’m still struggling with my voice. I’m really hating it right now as I go through these rewrites. Ugh. I know the only way I can improve it is by writing every day, but between revisions and the one-track-mind I spoke of last week, that’s nearly impossible.

      Yay for being in the last stretch of your novel! When I finished my first draft, I was kind of excited to revise it, just because I already knew things I wanted to change. And I was very excited about these changes. But when I sat down to do it, it was like pulling teeth. It took me twice as long to revise as it did to write it.

      I also enjoy the “unstoppable” phase. I enjoy sketching out characters and building parts of the world. I get that phase at the start of each new draft, but it’s already worn off this time. Lol. Even writing the first draft isn’t that bad. It’s fun to see the world for the first time. But now, having read this dagum book 27 times? “Are we there yet?” *snort*

      • Here’s something I heard from a writer once (not from a class, but from something on the side): “The writer is the last one to hear their own voice. And if they do, they will be their worst critics. Do not worry about it. Just write something you enjoy and don’t try to fix voice. Worry about the story and if it makes sense.”

        I’d say something similar. Don’t worry about your voice. I personally hate my own writing for the most part. I just revise and edit it so that it is cohesive. If I tried to make it sound the way I wanted, I’d probably break it. At least, I know I’ve done if before. And if you are trying to sound in a specific way, that would be your tone. The other thing is just “you” coming through on the page, and it is what tells two writers apart.

        But yes…revision…Sincerely, I hate it. So I can empathize with you. Personally, I’m going to leave the revision for another time. Once I finish the novel, I’m just going to forget about it for a while. I don’t want to come in with the chainsaw until after I can divorce myself from it. Who knows, maybe that’s what you need too. You’ve read it too much, so you are not an effective reader of your novel anymore.

        I’d say finish this next draft and take a break. Start a different project once you finish that one, come back to this.

        Now sure, this is in a world were you have time. I don’t know about that. You might be a starving writer like some of us, trying to get that one hit so that you can continue to write peacefully. But if you aren’t, why not take a break?

      • I haven’t been focused on a particular tone for this piece, nor am I trying to make the voice sound a particular way (honestly, I know how the tone feels but have no clue how to describe it. It’s the sound of OneRepublic’s new album “Native.” That’s what the tone is. I have no words for it) but my struggles are “am I writing too simplistically? Am I using the same sentance structure too often? Am I being redundant? Am I telling instead of showing? Am I overshowing to the point where it’s overwritten?” Truly, I know that you’re right though. Those are voice questions that everyone asks themselves that ought to be put to bed. Focusing on those things will drive a person mad. A quote I like is, “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” So long as the story is there, I can make it pretty later.

        Taking the six week break that I did while my betas had the book was a good reprieve. Before I sent it off to my betas, I’d read the book so many times that it didn’t even make sense to me anymore. I could not see the big picture. I knew it needed fixing, but I couldn’t figure out what to fix anymore. Now that it’s been six weeks, and I have everyone’s feedback, I feel like I have improved some objectivity. Still, during that month off, I was prepping the sequel. I tried prepping some unrelated books, but my mind refused. I am not the type of person who can put things away and just dabble in something else, which is awful, because it really is what I need! Like you said, it’s great to divorce yourself from it for awhile.

        On the bright side, I did have an idea for a story today that I’m actually a bit jazzed about, so it may be a side-project during lulls in revision. Perhaps I just haven’t found something that I can be equally obsessed about yet. Maybe this is it!

      • Well, I hope that idea pans out and you get another big project out of it!

        lol, when I read OneRepublic, a song of theirs popped in my head and I imagined the cheesiest trailer for a movie (not that that is what your novel is like). But anyway, I think it’s interesting that you would think of a song as your “driving” emotion for your tone rather than other type of work. I tend to be a little more abstract and use a specific feeling I’ve experienced and use that as my dominant impression. We all have our styles.

        But anyway, I guess you did take the break, so I guess my recommendation was pretty useless. Sincerely, you are already further ahead of me in general. I should be taking advice from you instead :)

      • Ahaha, that’s totally understandable. OneRepublic is pretty cheesy. I’ve been focusing more on their rock/soul anthems though, and their lyrics.

        I fear my writing can be soulless at times, because I’m an emotionally bland person. I like to channel the spirit and emotion that music carries in order to drive feeling into the story. I can think of a specific example of using my own feelings though – the feeling of helplessness and anxiety when I went off to my NASA internship, alone for the first time in my life, 10 hours from home. It was a weird mix of “I know this is good for me and it’s neccessary to succeed and I told myself I could do it, but now that I’m on the other side of that choice, I am freaking out because I can’t turn back.” I tried to channel that feeling when I was writing my protagonist making a neccessary but irreversible choice.

        And dude, I am still totally new at this! Your advice is great. And it’s similar advice to what the pros give, so you’ve got it right. Taking breaks is always a good idea…I’m just hardheaded :P

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