Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” I think about that quote often as I work on the book. Not because I hate writing. I wouldn’t be doing this if I did and I am also idealistic enough to believe that life is too short to waste it doing something that doesn’t make you happy, let alone doing something that you hate. No, I think about it because while I can imagine the end, the feelings of triumph and satisfaction and happiness that will come when I’m finally finished, I feel the wear and tear on my very soul from the process of getting there. This is hard.
Not all of it, mind you. When I’m in the flow, words pouring out, and I can see the page count climbing, let’s just say that I like to imagine that that’s what shooting heroin feels like. No, the hard part is the next day, when I have to read what has tumbled out of my brain onto those pages and then decide what’s good and what’s bad, what stays and what goes (because as beautiful as I think it might be, it does nothing to move the story along or bring any of my characters more to life) and what needs to be rewritten and corrected and rewritten again.
I am not naive nor was I entirely unprepared for this. I mean, I sweat over emails to friends, striving always for economy of language and clarity of meaning and intent. Certainly, at the very least, the same level of care was going to be owed to the book. My book. The difference, I now realize, is that the stakes are so much higher and the care and crafting of every sentence significantly more important. For me, setting out to write a novel and having the audacity to attempt to have it published is an act of courage as much it is one of creativity.
So if you’re up there, Dorothy, know that I too will eventually “have written” and that I will owe some of the gumption that it took to do so to you. Thank you.
P.S. please say hi to Hem for me if you see him.