Friday, April 30, 2010

y i write

So, it's not like I'm necessarily trying to spread the bad smell around to my friends who write, but I have been having one of those why-did-I-ever-want-to-be-a-writer weeks. I even mentioned this to a couple writer friends, and they were, like, yeah... I get those, too.

So here goes:

Look, I know there are plenty of people out there who've been pouring their lives into trying to get their work into the hands of an appreciative agent or editor. And... then, after that... actually seeing your book in the hands of a reader, on the shelf of a bookstore or library... well, it just doesn't get much better than that.

I mean, that's the dream, right?

Yes. It is.

But, there are other things that go along with the dream that you never think about when you're trying so hard to write your best stuff, just so a qualified, proven agent or top-notch editor will give you a nod and let your foot in the door. Not that knowing those things up front would ever have changed my mind about what I was doing... because I was -- and am -- immature and dumb.

So I wrote this long piece today about why I was having one of those why-did-I-ever-want-to-be-a-writer weeks, but I just deleted the whole thing. I'm keeping my mouth shut.

I am never satisfied with what I do. So I keep trying to write something that -- to me alone -- is perfect: something that can neither be stripped-down nor added to without ruining it.

That's why I have these why-did-I-ever-want-to-be-a-writer weeks.

The thing is kind of like trying to run to the horizon. You never get there. It's kind of like what the kids in Marbury find out, too (without being a spoiler).

Henry Miller said something about writing "one perfect page," in a novel. That one page was enough. A lot of novels I've read (or stopped reading) don't even have that one page. But one page isn't enough for me.

So I was kind of beating myself up this week -- what Nick would call a crisis of dissatisfaction -- and swearing I was never going to write another word (and here I am in the middle of yet another novel, looking for those perfect pages).

And then, like a miracle, out of the blue, an email comes in. A reader in Texas received an advance copy of The Marbury Lens from a librarian [Side note: Thank you, Ksenia, for giving out my ARCs at TLA], and took the time to send me a note about enjoying the book.

I might not ever get the perfect page, but things like that, I guess, are reason enough to keep after it.