Writing and feeling

Yesterday, CricketB asked, “Would you write if it didn’t make you feel good?”

And my answer is, many times, writing doesn’t feel good at all! But I do it. I do it because in many respects, I have no choice in the matter. My brain is telling stories all the time. My brain is creating people, situations, solutions, struggles and drama. It needs to story-tell.

I’ve written about that before, how if there’s anything that will fulfill you other than writing, it’s probably best to do that thing instead. There’s the frustration of living your own life when you want to be living your character’s life. There’s the feeling of futility sometimes when you have a heartbreakingly beautiful story you can’t sell to a decent market. There’s the struggle of rewriting, editing, seeking others’ opinions, sorting through those opinions, bettering your craft. And sometimes, no, it’s not the kind of thing that makes you feel good at all. Sometimes I’ll end an editing session feeling worse than when I started, convinced a piece is utter crap.

There are times when I only write in order to feed the word count ticker. And because I want to have a finished novel. Not because I’m enjoying the writing that day, but because at the end, I want to enjoy having written my story. I can’t enjoy reading it if I haven’t written it first. That’s pretty much the writer’s dilemma.

Do I keep going? Yes, because it’s my nature. It’s who I am. It’s my vocation.

(One of my vocations, that is. I’m also given that more familiar wife/mom vocation.)

Re-reading my work feels good. Trying to plot a story while appearing to be a normal human being does not always feel good. (Plotting while washing dishes, btw, feels awesome. Same for plotting while folding laundry or fixing a toilet.) But it’s all part of the same bundle.

I wouldn’t want not to be a writer. I’ve had time periods where I wasn’t a writer, and I hated myself and felt distant from God at those times. Returning to my stories felt like breathing again.

Does a writer’s life always feel good? No. Do I always keep going? Yes.

More answer than you wanted, Cricket?

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About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
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4 Responses to Writing and feeling

  1. karen says:

    amen 🙂

  2. cricketB says:

    Sounds like I asked the wrong question. Would you (insert something unpleasant) if you didn’t get (insert some sort of bribe, short- or long-term.)

    Overall, though, you did answer it. Even though you don’t enjoy all the moments (image kids biting tongues so they don’t bicker in the car), you enjoy the end result (image kids with coins at end of drive).

    Maybe that feeling at the end is God’s bribe to keep you writing?

    Or insert fixing toilet / all those things working toilets prevent and no plumber’s bill. Washing dishes / kitchen that is pleasant to work in and enjoyable meals. Folding laundry / more room in drawers and everyone finds clothes in the morning.

    Sometimes there’s a fine line between bribe, reward, and good natural consequence.

    Work with no reward is pointless. Raising kids to believe that hard work is better than easy work, _for the same results,_ teaches them that, rather than evaluate their choices, they should choose the hard one. (And, yes, that can backfire when only the parents believe the results of the harder work are better than the alternative.)

    • Jane says:

      There are things I do only because I’m supposed to do them. Right now I can’t think of any because I’m about to have to fix the washing machine and I’m very frustrated with it. (Low tech washer: I could open the lid whenever I wanted, remove half the clothes, tell it to spin without draining first. High-tech washer: the door locks itself, insists on draining before it will spin even though the drain is what’s not working.)

      But sometimes we do things solely because we’ve committed to do them or because we should, not because we get a good feeling about it. I voted in the recent elections because I felt I should, not because I liked or could even stand any of the candidates. I didn’t think any of them would hold out on any of their promises or that they even had a compelling vision that got them out of bed in the morning. But I feel voting is an American privilege and therefore I needed to do it.

      There’s a point to learning things both the hard way and the easy way. Often the hard way teaches you the full process, and then you understand why the shortcut works.

      I’d like the natural consequence to be the reward: the kids would discover that by not bickering, they all had a better road trip and arrived at Grandma’s house ready to have an exciting visit.

      I don’t know that the feeling at the end of writing is the reward for the whole thing. The flow during the actual drafting is amazing. When I wrote the Mephistopheles/Beelzebub attack scene in Seven Archangels: Annihilation, I turned on my iPod with the head phones on, started to write, and looked up half an hour later to find my kids’ TV program had ended, the scene was completed, and I was seven songs into the playlist without having heard even one of them. THAT is intense. That often makes it worthwhile.

  3. Ana says:

    “I turned on my iPod with the head phones on, started to write, and looked up half an hour later to find my kids’ TV program had ended, the scene was completed, and I was seven songs into the playlist without having heard even one of them. THAT is intense. That often makes it worthwhile…”

    Sometimes its the journey, and not the destinantion 🙂

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