by Libby Hellmann
I read Dave’s Compromising Positions post (see below) earlier this week, as well as all the thoughtful comments, and I want to put in a vote for the other side. I’m one of those people who hates to write.
There. I said it.
What’s more, I’m envious, insanely jealous, to be honest, of writers who sink themselves in the process and find euphoria. I find misery.
On the other hand, I love having written. (Actually I think Patricia Highsmith said that first). I love the fact that I’ve written nine novels and published six. And I do consider myself a storyteller. I love to create characters, put them in situations of high conflict and danger, and see how it all turns out. But like Guyot, I always thought my storytelling would be on film. I studied film production, got a masters degree, and worked in the industry for years before moving on.
I was the last person in the word to expect I’d be writing books. Using the written word to create images and tell stories. Which probably is at the root of the problem. I usually feel unequal to the task. I constantly second guess myself, rewrite, edit, and rewrite again. I obsess over every sentence, every phrase, trying to elevate it beyond “workmanlike.” Sometimes I succeed. Often I don’t. For me, writing is the biggest challenge I’ve ever undertaken. And it doesn’t get any easier over time. I don’t expect it too any more. I’m used to the struggle. Kind of like a battered individual who’s used to getting beat up on a regular basis.
Someone once asked me why I put so much pressure on myself. I didn’t have a good answer -- except that the idea of seeing the finished product on sale in a bookstore, and knowing I created it, is immensely satisfying.
Over the years, I’ve discovered one mantra that helps, particularly when I’m facing a blank page: Annie LaMott’s advice in Bird by Bird (a fabulous book for writers, btw) to write “shitty first drafts.” She devoted an entire chapter to them, as I recall. Like her, shitty first drafts are now my goal. I write them all the time. It doesn’t make the process more enjoyable, but it does take some of the pressure off.
But enough from me. What about you? Especially those of you who love the process. What do you love about it? Care to share any tips on making it more enjoyable? I’m all ears.
Finally, a couple of notes… I’m thrilled to report that Easy Innocence is now available on audio. Here’s the link. This is my first novel to make it to audio (although several short stories are on Sniplits) so I’m pumped.
One other thing… There’s a funny series of 10 short videos titled “The Book vs. the Kindle” over at The Green Apple bookstore’s blog. Rumor has it the tenth installment is “f---ing hilarious.” Check it out.