Writing is Hard.
No this is not a shitpost. This is real. Writing is fucking hard. Enjoy my curse-laden stream of consciousness rant.
I used to think of writing as this thing people did for the lolz and if they were good enough and got lucky, they'd have a book. I had this mindset in the midst of my early writing "career". I used to write a lot of varying quality, but I wrote. Prolifically. Some plots were more complicated than others, but I always had it in my head that it was as easy as "Point A to Point B to Point C to Point D... etc etc" until the end. Easy. Story by numbers. Connect the dots and be done.
Spoiler alert: It's a lot more than that.
I always wanted a book, but I figured that was a stupid dream. Books are awesome, but who dreams of having a book? Me. My dumb ass. Along with countless other lunatics who took on the adventure of becoming writers.
At the beginning of the year, I finished yet another novel-length draft of the story I've been working on since 2018 which is actually an evolution of the story I was writing around 2004. So all told, this plot's been rattling around for a loooong time.
I've told this story before, but it's morphed a lot over time. I ended up with some key elements that became staples of modern versions. The thing is, since 2018, I've written the equivalent of four complete novels and I can't even tell you how many drafts started but never finished. I'm currently on, what, major draft 4? After... Wait let me see... I finished that draft, started another, didn't finish, did an outline, started another, didn't finish, started the current draft which is aiming to be another novel-length draft... Look I can't keep track, okay?
I'm sitting here writing the current version and I keep forgetting what I kept in and what I took out. I have a second document open with parts I've removed for one reason or another so I can check with that to see if a reference was removed, but still every time I write something I have to run through this other document to see if it's a dated reference that's no longer relevant. Several times I've had to delete what I just wrote because I was working off a defunct plot element.
I have a plot outline that's littered with comments and floating notes.
I have TWO FULL NOTEBOOKS of plotting that include pages I pasted into them when I jotted stuff down on napkins and scrap paper.
I found a plot element and spent the whole damn day noodling it out. I put my brain to WORK ironing out this fictitious problem. I spent so long free writing and reworking the beat breakdown to wiggle in this element and keep it consistent.
I was BEAT. Tired. Exhausted. Did I work harder than someone in a steel mill? Not physically... But I brained a lot and anyone who thinks braining isn't hard work needs to try it sometime. Keep all those threads together, keep 5 documents open at a time, a pen and a notebook next to you... Write for hours to realize it's based on a dated version, delete it, start again, wonder if your pacing is okay, are these two falling in love too fast? IDK MAN IDK
I'm not sure how coherent this whole thing is because I'm writing it during a period of fog brain. I just noodled out an important plot element and now I feel spent and worn. Used...
I'm convinced this is my best draft yet and it is kicking the SHIT out of me. Probably because I am keeping stuff in such tight order. It's not just A-B-C-D.... It's... Remember that thing you mentioned in A? Well here's the payoff in C. Also make sure the big reveal in D was seeded in A, B, and C. No one should be like "What the fuck? How is this a thing?" They should be like "OH THAT'S IT HUH?!" or "I FUCKING KNEW IT!". Seeding is the hardest shit to do because if the plot starts shifting, you gotta go back and rework ALL THE SEEDS and like the soft tendrils of a dandelion, they're FUCKING EVERYWHERE.
I AM A FUCKING FARMER OF IDEAS AND THOUGHTS.
I blasted a dumb Tweet out saying people have to be some level of insane to write. I suppose in retrospect that's some mildly ableist jargon, but hear me out. In order to write fiction, you have to have imagination. You have to. Even if you're writing fan fiction, you have to be able to envision something unique and original to you even if there's existing source material. To be imaginative requires the ability to consciously shut off the logic of reality on some level. Even if you're writing something very mundane set in the current day, you're still cultivating fictional characters having fictional interactions. This means you have to be able to think outside of reality. Breaking reality is... not entirely rational. So does that mean... To be creative is to be walking a fine line between real and unreal. Isn't there a hint of madness in that concept? A good, wholesome madness that allows one to tap into realities that never were and never will be. To reach across the mundane and into realms untouched by mortal hands...
A dream that through words becomes a story. Any creative who tells a story is dipping into a very intricate part of themselves. They are CREATING A VERSION OF REALITY and TRANSLATING IT for other people to consume. Excuse me while I go have an existential crisis about a minor god complex that may or may not be wreaking havoc in my brain.
I'm gonna try to come back around to the connection between creativity and madness. I like this topic a lot and I think it deserves better than a rant from my disconnected brain.
So for now, I'll end this here with a quote from one of my heroes:
As for writing, yes. It's fucking hard. You have to create so much from a blank slate and keep track of it all in your silly human brain that forgets what you had for breakfast.
Actually, my brain has started shoving all non-plot-related thoughts out of my head. I'm forgetting important shit... I think... Maybe... I'm really not even sure if I'm being honest... But the only thing I KNOW is jammed in my brain is my damn plot and all the teeny tiny little elements I'm jugging to keep it going.
To my fellow fiction writers, aspiring authors, published authors, successful authors, indie authors... I salute you. This shit ain't easy, but we're in it together.