Friday, March 27, 2009

What I didn’t know about writing before I started

Well, tons actually. I knew almost nothing, which in retrospect, was a good thing. And I know a lot of the readers of this blog are writers as well, so you all know this, but some things along the way really surprised me.

Everyone who writes says it’s hard work, and it is. It requires looking at your own work critically. Not since school ended have I looked at anything else in my life or professional life and really taken it apart, analyzed it for flaws, thought for hours on how I can make it better. I do hope some of that thinking has leaked into my regular life.
I thought I’d write 100,000 words. Well the truth is, by the time I finish a book, triple that, what with re-written scenes, chapters, entire hunks of the bloody book.
So yep, writing is hard and requires a certain abandonment of ego.

But what I really didn’t realize about writing was how it would seep into every part of my life. I don’t read books, watch TV, or see movies in the same way. I see a great episode of Battlestar, I now need to talk about it, dissect how it worked or what the writers were thinking, or the new episode of Dollhouse that I unreservedly loved, and my husband is tired of hearing about.

The people I work with think I’m nuts every time I try and convince them of the brilliance of Friday Night Lights, because I think I get a strange gleam in my eyes. And forget talking about JR Ward with anyone who isn’t a writer. They aren’t interested in really talking about those books for longer than three minutes, and three minutes doesn’t even scratch the surface of the first chapter of the first book.

Which is why Drunk Writer Talk was invented. Because no one else wanted to discuss the unbelievable brilliance of the Wire for three hours.

I guess when I started writing, I had no idea how storytelling would invade so much of my life, and my thoughts and how passionate I would become about it.


Maureen McGowan said...

Damn. Blogger, or more likely the wimpy wireless connection I'm stealing, ate my post.

Amy Ruttan said...

I can relate. As I see similar familiar plots unfold. I think of GMC, I totally dissect it like crazy.

But I love it, and no one else but my writer friends get it. LOL.

Maureen McGowan said...

Trying again.

Thanks for this Sinead. It's smart to remind ourselves just how passionate we've become.

And as for critically looking at my work and redoing it over and over??? I don't think I ever did that to this extent in University or in my previous professional career.

Not for my first two books, either ;-)

Although I think I thought I was. Oh, sometimes I yearn for the heady overconfident early years... while knowing someday I'll probably look back at now as then, too.

(this time I'm copying this sucker onto the clipboard before posting)

Anonymous said...

I so agree. Sometimes I long for the days when I could curl up on the couch and enjoying reading just to be reading without any aspirations to write. Because once you let it out, it's hard to reel it back in.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Great post Sinead - and so true.

And sometimes it gets in the way of just enjoying a good book or a show.

I'm in the middle of Deanna Raybourn and half the time I spend getting lost in the story -and the other half I spend obsessing about how she created such tension/chemistry between a heroine and hero - a hero who really only shows up for about 1/2 the book. Ahhh!!! I want to do that.

Next show you need to watch is Big Love. Not the greatest. Doesn't touch Wire. But the second character of Niki might possibly be one of the greatest characters ever drawn. You've never hated/loved anyone so much in your life.


Sinead M said...

I remember fondly the days I could just read a book and not analyze it, but I like now better...
Where I overanalyze everything..

It's fun!

Stephanie, I watched the 1st two seasons of Big Love and while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it, although the interaction between the three wives was so well written and love Jeanne Tripplehorn in it.

But I hear the 3rd season is great and I'm missing out..

Maureen McGowan said...

Steph, I love Big Love. Okay, like it a lot.

I agree about the Nicky character. Amazingly well drawn. So devious at times, but so sweet in others.

That reveal in the first season about her and Barb and how she became part of the family was HUGE.

It's starting to get a little over the top... but still fascinating and the characters are very real. Alby is amazing too. (IN a horrible way. But at least they've given us another reason for his horribleness now. Very conflicted dude.)

Stephanie Doyle said...

See for me the Wire was about empathizing/sympathizing about people who I "thought" were supposed to be villians. Crack addicts, drug dealers, etc. But liking them anyway. Brilliant.

But Nicky - and to an exent Albie too - is about loving a character who based on her actions I should still hate.

She is petulant, spoiled, manipulative. She lies. She's selfish. She's everything in a human that you think ... yuck!

But then - the reveal you mentioned about how she saved Barb. She can fix a washing machine. She can lay tile.

She's the person who - imo - if I was in serious trouble that's who I would go to.

And I'm fascinated by her.

Talk about how "flaws" can add depth!

Maureen McGowan said...

Nicky is an amazing character, Steph. Not only does she lie/manipulate etc., she's so self righteous/holier than thou.

And yet... as you say, the writers (and perhaps even Cloe Sevigny in her delivery of the character) give us so many reasons so empathize with her, or at least understand her and want her on our side.

Awesome insight that's she's someone you'd go to if you were in trouble. Awesome.

Molly O'Keefe said...

in the end - it's so nice to be involved in something I'm passionate about - because you're right - I live for this stuff. I really do.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Sinead, come to my house. We can talk about the Wire for three hours no problem.

And then we can talk about Avatar for another three.

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