Sometimes being a writer feels a lot like walking through a thick fog. It's not that there isn't an amount of clarity involved within the actual act of writing, but its almost as if trying to find what you really want to say is like swimming through a sea of fog.
I'm not talking about actually swimming. Because when you're swimming, you're floating, but when you're walking through a sea of something, you're grounded. And, I find writing to be an incredibly grounding experience.
This morning when I got up, I was extremely tired. I often relate this type of waking up to trying to pull yourself out of tar. When you've just been in such a deep and wondrous sleep, it feels like being tugged out of it when that stupid charm goes off on your iPhone. That's how I felt this morning, but not because of any bad reason. I did sleep well, though I could have gone without the dream of my roommate and I being terrified of an intruder as we were house sitting my parents' home. But, I did sleep well.
But, I did not sleep lightly.
Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of getting to hear Sarah J. Maas speak. If you don't know who she is, just google her. She's the New York Times bestselling author of several series, one of which I am half way through and another of which I have just begun.
She is an absolutely charming person, and though I really went to support a friend who wanted to go, I ended up having an incredible time.
I love hearing authors speak. It's one of my favorite things to do when I actually find myself with some spare time, which, I reluctantly have to say isn't very often. I attend the LA Festival of Books every year and try to go and hear authors speak as frequently as I can. I find an enormous amount of inspiration in it.
Now, I'm a person who is perpetually tired. Whether this is because of my anxiety or because I just adore sleep way too much, I don't know. But, I got back to my amazing bed at 11:30 after finishing an episode of How To Get Away With Murder and finishing taking notes on the chapter of my Greek and Roman mythology text book.
But, when I actually finally settled into my bed, annoying the large pile of clean laundry I had yet to fold and put away, I couldn't stop thinking about fantasy and how, for some reason, its not taken as seriously be critics as something like literary fiction.
I couldn't help but think about how the book that I had the most fun writing was my fantasy book. ( To learn about the books I've written, click here.) But, I gave up on it because no agents seemed to be interested in it at all. I cut my losses and started working on a new book.
But, I had never experienced pleasure like that. I wrote that book in 2 months, which for me is incredibly fast. I was basically like this the whole time:
But that was also combined with stuff like this:
I spent five hours a day writing. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life, and I miss that. It's not that I never have moments like that anymore with my writing, I do, but that's just what they are: moments.
Maybe fantasy is what I should be writing, so why am I so scared?
Because I am completely obsessed with what my first published book is going to be. I have this idea that its going to be the defining moment of my novel writing career and no matter what other books I write, that will be the only one that mattered.
But, that's not true.
The Fault In Our Stars is by far John Green's most famous book, and it's not his first one. But, I can't help this terribly feeling of anxiety that comes over me when I think about which book of mine will be the first published. (Also, because I think of when's not if's).
All of this is a round about way of filling you in about the haze of fog that I felt like I was trying to wade through this morning.
I wrote a new first sentence for my fantasy book last night at around 11:45 after over two and a half years of even writing a single word for that book. Then, when I woke up this morning I realized everything that I had to change in the book to make it work better than it ever did before. And making it work meant turning my favorite character into a villain and taking away this free spirit of the main character.
The combination of that realization with listening to Defying Gravity made me cry on my walk to work. But, it's not necessarily a sad cry, it's an incredible amount of feeling hitting me all at once: excitement, disappointment, fear, sadness.
As I tried to explain this to one of my coworkers who is also an artist but in a drawing facet, I realized that sometimes I feel like this is one of the moments that only writers experience. I might be wrong, and I by no way mean to undermine any other artist in any shape or form. They do things that I literally can only write about because I think that what they do is incredible, and I know I could never do it.
But, writers have this incredibly unique experience where we get to create worlds and characters that we have to embody in a way, and sometimes we have to write things we don't want to write. We have to take a step back because writing as a villain or as anything more horrible than a 16 year old school kid is hard. It might seem like fun to be vindictive in writing since we can't all be in life. It might seem like fun to take your anger out on your characters, but when you write and you REALLY write, you begin to love this story and this life you have created.
It's an entirely new feeling, and my realization this morning that I had to take away this character from the good side crushed me. But, the haze was there and I was wading through it, and anyone could have jumped out at me, and I wouldn't have noticed. And, that's one of the best feelings in the world, and I wouldn't trade anything for it.