Sunday, September 18, 2011

Voices in My Head

While writing opinions of the books I’ve read this summer, I realize that maintaining a high level of quality from page one to page last is a monumental task. As a reader goes through a book, it becomes a singular activity on a linear time line taking maybe a week or so. Therefore, it’s easy to forget that the writing of the novel may have taken years and is much more dynamic, with jumps and pauses and switches and melt downs. The effort to stay focused and continually improve a work of fiction is an emotional marathon. The whispering voices inside every writer’s head are a constant source of despair.

There is always the mean spirited voice that says: “It’s not good. And it will never be good enough.” That insinuation is so difficult to ignore.

Then there’s: “You’ve spent how long on this? And you’re not done yet?” that brings out a sense of eternal doom, forever cursed to push a rock up a hill only to see it roll back down.

One of my perennial internal critics is the whisper that says: “Why bother? No one is ever going to read it? What difference does it make if you finish or not?” Yeah, that’s both hard to take and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And then, even after putting in months and months of work, there is the insidious “It’s good enough. Stop being a perfectionist.”

That last voice embodies the real evil of writing – it’s such a solitary endeavor that  even when the emotions are drained and objectivity has set in, there’s always a fuzzy, undetermined point of when is “done” actually “done”?

Ah… Any writer can fill you in: It’s never done. Never. Sure, eventually every writer has to let go, but given another opportunity, there’s always another sentence to improve, another character detail to expand, another plot scene to develop. Never. Ever. Done.

Oh my gawd, that’s depressing.

1 comment:

  1. One of my perennial internal critics is the whisper that says: “Why bother? No one is ever going to read it? What difference does it make if you finish or not?”

    I want to read it.

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