Writers often grumble. You can’t get an agent. If you’ve got one, she doesn’t answer your email or he’s not placing your book. You’re terrific at plotting, but you don’t like your voice. Or you consider your voice really pretty good, but how does that help if you can’t plot?
Writing and writers have our share of troubles. Maybe more than most, maybe not. There’s the revising world, the publishing world, the being-off-in-your-own-fictional world. But during the season of taking stock and counting blessings, it might be useful to pause and appreciate what writing gives us instead of what it fails to.
Few novelists do it only for the money. Instead, the desire to communicate, clarify, and characterize usually motivates. And if we’re writing because we have something to say and want to entertain or create beauty or make music or laughter, then what would we do without it? How would we fill that hole? What else could make us whole?
The burning desire to write—and to write well—is a source of pleasure. A writer friend and I had this email conversation comparing writing to a table you’re polishing . The process is going really well until—you find a gouge. Maybe no one but you would even notice. But you know it’s there. You apply some quick fixes—burying rough edges, masking the shape, thickly shading or texturing, hacking, overdoing, and finally rationalizing that only you will ever know.
None of that works. Because you will always know. So you’ll remain dissatisfied until it’s fixed, until you reproduce the perfect image you see in your head—of a table, a scene, an exchange of dialogue.
Don’t fret. This is nothing to complain about! The perseverance to strive for perfection isn’t a setback or burden. It’s a gift. You care so much about your project that you’re willing to give it your all, no matter how long that takes. Doesn’t that make every day one to feel thankful for?
Tip: Before you write for anyone else, write for yourself.