Most nights these past few weeks, I have put the kids to bed, done my chores in the kitchen and walked with purpose to my study. Armed with a water bottle, a warm fleece throw and my phone on vibrate, I have cocooned myself. Each day I have opened a blank document, turned the editor off and let my hands fly. The clacking of the keyboard and the utter silence otherwise has been cathartic. I have seen the germ of an idea in my head take shape, spawn characters and develop a life of its own. I struggle with grammar. I struggle with isolating my voice from the voice of the character in my head. I watch helplessly as bits of me leach into the story and seep into dialogues.
Each day, I work towards a word count goal. Some days are better than others. I now have a beginning, middle and end to my story. There are gaping plot holes. There are missing pieces. There are weak, underdeveloped characters. There are flawed characters. There are like-able characters. I have not had the courage to read what I have written so far from end to end. I work on chunks of it at a time. On impulse, I shared what I have written with a few friends and the feedback has been very useful, if daunting.
As I watch my metamorphosis into a writer, I have realized one thing. It is one thing to aspire to be a writer, to talk about being one and another to actually put fingers to keyboard and type it all out. For each post I have written on the blog and basked in the rare comment, I realize all of that writing practice is not enough. Language is not enough. There is a lot that goes into constructing a piece of work that someone wants to read. The plot, the tension, the characters, the worlds they inhabit, the drama in their lives. Each book I read now, I look at aspects beyond the story and the writing. How did the author begin? How did s/he introduce tension? How did s/he sustain the momentum? What is the thing I most remember after I close the back cover? I read. I reflect. I feel inadequate.
Then I do it all again. Day after day.
When a friend remarked the other day that she admired my passion. I dismissed the sentiment. Then I went back and thought about it. I have thought of passion as something inherently associated with a successful end product. But, what of the effort that goes in? What of all the rejection that remains buried under the one successful attempt? Perhaps, I have not understood it at all.
Late last night, as I ripped out chunks of what I had written and replaced it with shorter, terse paragraphs as I would expect the character in my head to do, I realized this is what it takes. Create, destroy and replace. Do it all over again till you have something that you are proud of.
Perhaps, just perhaps, another person might find it as beautiful as you think it is.