Let's face it, it's true.
We toss words around for hours, hacking one phrase out and sliding another gently in its place ... and then stare at those new words like someone just served us roadkill on a platter, WITH garnish ... and swiftly replace them with another line. We stare at that. We read it in a whisper. Stare at it some more. Then read it aloud with great temerity, letting it roll off the tongue. Finally! It's perfect, absolutely perfect!
One line. Yes, one lousy line. Only hundreds, or even thousands, more to go.
It's a complicated relationship we have with our Work-In-Progress. Even when it's driving us crazy, we want to love it, and in fact we inevitably fall head-over-heels for it. Particularly if it's a novel, taking months to complete, the characters becoming real to us, like friends or family ... or the friends and family we wish we had. We love them. We love the town/island/alternate universe/distant planet where it all takes place. At times, we wish we lived there. At times (mostly late at night when we're bleary-eyed, yet edgy with caffeine), we think we do. At least until the words stop flowing or the cat pukes on the rug or we stop to get another cup of coffee. Then we realize that, oh right, we're not sitting at the controls of a shuttle landing on Planet Alpha Alpha Ding Dong. We're in Sacramento (or Buffalo, or Nome, or a farm in the middle of Nowhereville, U.S.A.). And we sigh, wistfully.
At the end of a particularly productive writing session, we look at what we've just worked on for hours and beam with pride, reading it over and over because the words are not only just right, they're AWESOME. Did we do that? Are we capable of doing THAT? It's true, then: We're a writer. A writer. A WRITER. Hot damn.
And we go to bed, perhaps dreaming dreams of a future Stephen King-like existence.
The next day, if we're like most fledgling writers, we go to an actual job to earn actual money to pay actual bills. Or we chase after a houseful of rugrats, get them off to school, do the grocery shopping, etc., etc., etc.
But finally the time comes when the day/night is our own. And we open our WIP, so eager to read those inspiring words, to bask in the glow of our own talent and re-experience the pride that had warmed our heart only hours earlier. And we read it.
And it sucks.
Like a Hoover.
Like a Hoover with an atomic engine.
And that's devastating. Our dreams are shattered. Where yesterday we imagined readers holding our novel in their sweaty hands, waiting in line for our autograph, now we picture them grumbling about how much money they wasted, and lining their parakeet's cage with the pages.
Our world is crumbling. How could we have been so wrong???
If you're not a newbie at this, you know what comes next. You either dive right back in, or you run for cover, but either way, within a day or two or three, you open your WIP and ... you smile. Because you were right the first time. The panic/self-loathing/despair/No one will ever buy this book feeling was just a phase, part of the emotional roller coaster ride that is writing.
I was in the birdcage-lining phase yesterday. The opening to my book was too stiff/too folksy, too complicated/too simplistic, too subtle/too in-your-face, too ... everything. I couldn't believe I'd ever thought Chapter One could possibly entice anyone to move on to Chapter Two.
Today? Same chapter, didn't touch a word. Read it again, and ... it's freakin' AWESOME.
Writers, weird? Ya think?