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And speaking of encouragement, there are a couple of folks in our community who could really use some this week. If you get a second, please hop over and share some with Shelly and Misha.
The Yin-Yang of Writing
Writing is a struggle. But the word struggle doesn't have to be a negative. It's just an active process requiring a lot of effort to attain something we desire.
We struggle with lots of worthwhile things in this world. Being a parent is a struggle at times. A career (both getting there and maintaining it) is a struggle. Falling in love and finding the right partner is often a struggle.
If something is important to you, you'll endure a lot of grief to get it. Writing is no different for those of us who dive into its murky waters. We know it's hard. We know it will be painful. Yet, we still do it anyway.
I love this Goerge Orwell quote, and think it summarizes the desire nicely:
I believe there is a certain harmony to it all. Some of the things in writing that are THE most difficult to me are also at the root of my greatest joy and accomplishment. (Sounds a lot like life, doesn't it?)
When things get tough, sometimes it's helpful to look at the flip side of the coin for a little perspective. Here are a few things in writing that are real negatives when I'm struggling with them, but eventually become some of my favorite aspects.
Yin/Negative - Making a good first impression on a reader is HUGE. We know it. They know it. Which is why there is so much pressure to nail the opening of a story. Doesn't seem fair at all when you've written 90k damn good words after it.
Yang/Positive - When you finally get it exactly right, the rest of the story takes on a showroom shine. For me, it's THE moment when I fall in love with my own work--which is something I resist doing throughout the process of drafting. I'm just naturally a self-loather, and it's hard for me to see the positive in my own stuff. So it's a huge deal for my overall confidence.
Yin - It really sucks to have your flaws pointed out. Sucks. Hard. And we actually ask people to do it! It doesn't make it any less painful, even when you know it's the only way you're story is going to be as good as you want it to be.
Yang - After the initial sting has worn off, I really enjoy wading through feedback from critters and editors. Mostly because there's invariably something I did right that I had no idea I'd done right. Plus, it's the beginning of the final plan to make the story great. Once I've identified what's wrong with a story and my writing from several different perspectives, I can get very concrete about how to fix it. Before I get feedback, I have no real idea of a story's potential.
Yin - The process of actually fixing it can be torturous. Some projects feel as though you've got more bad than good going on. (Those usually turn into rewrites for me...) Plus, when you're faced with repairing all of the little things you've screwed up for days and weeks at a time, it can take a serious toll on your confidence. Revisions just have a way of turning into a black hole you think you'll never get out of.
Yang - When I finally see the light, and I know I've improved my story exponentially, there's a certain bulletproof feeling that sweeps over me. I know it's maybe not perfect, but I start to believe it'll hold up to just about anything or anyone. What was once a source of major insecurity turns into something close to pride. When I've properly executed a revision plan I'm as high on the mountain as I'll get in the pre-publication phase.
Those are just three yin-yang areas for me, but I have many more. (Reviews! Naming characters! ...) What about you? Do you have any areas in your writing that you struggle with but ultimately lead you to the greatest accomplishment?