Writing is like being in love

Analogies. They’re always fun. When we do it in writing, we tend to use constructs such as similes, metaphors, and other ones that might exist but that I can’t think of. I once had someone stop reading a story I’d written because I’d used a metaphor to describe a creature as being similar to another animal, where they felt it should have been a simile. The illusion was shattered. He could read no more. No, it wasn’t a pretend raven.

When we do it about writing, everything is suddenly akin to this art of ours.

  • Writing is like scissors – you’re just messing up paper.
  • Writing is like a glass of water – the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
  • Writing is like a phone – it allows you to have a conversation, except with your soul. (deep, right?)
  • Writing is like other random object at my desk – Okay, I’m feeling lazy.

Well, I’m going to throw in another. It’s probably been said before. I haven’t googled the phrase because I felt like writing this up, and would rather not potentially plagiarise anything I’ve seen recently. The title gives this analogy away. Writing is like being in love.

IT HURTS. MAKE IT STOP. MAKE THE NOISES STOP. The square root of 906.1 is 30.1.

You can’t blame me. I go on tangents. YOU KNOW THIS.

That’s not where I was going with it. No, I’m talking about the good side of being in love. At least, as compares to my own experiences with it. Well, with the good side of it.

When I start a new idea, I’m very enthused. More so if I’m abandoning the old, boring idea that I’ve been saddled down with for a delicious morsel of inspired ambrosia. Everything seems so perfect. There’s no plot holes that you can detect, no gaps any of the the character’s qualities, and sure you don’t have an ending, but that’ll sort itself out later. You’re just SO EXCITED. It’s just like being in lo— NO.

No. That’s not love. That’s infatuation. It’s warm and fuzzy, but it never lasts. Insert questionable analogy here. When it fades, you have your doubts. It’s no longer magical. It’s no longer the most amazing story idea ever formed by any individual that ever existed, though you can remember when you thought it was. You start to wonder if you were lying to yourself. You begin to think you might’ve only been caught up in something new. Right at that moment, it’s so easy to give up.

Don’t.

You have to keep working at a story if you want to get something out of it.

No, the butterflies aren’t there anymore. You could get that feeling back if you drink enough coffee, but you’re clamouring for something beneath you. There’s something better. It might only be a moment at first. A glimpse. It’s similar to that infatuation stage, but without feeling giddy. It’s subtle, yet if you try to ignore it, it becomes clear that subtle does not equate to weak. You tell yourself the whole time that you’re not going to get carried away. The thing you’re working on is either average, decent, alright, or maybe just plain shit.

You can consciously tell yourself whatever you want to believe, but your subconscious knows better.

If you’re working on something you don’t believe in, that you think isn’t good enough but keep telling yourself will be fine, it’ll come out. The opposite is true, too. Eventually the excitement you try to push down bubbles over, and you feel the idea (or love) stronger than any infatuation. It doesn’t take you over, but adds something. The thing though, is they’re both part of a cycle.

Infatuation can’t see you through the entire course of a relationship, and even the best ones still take work. Writing is no different. These bouts of frantic excitement and ho-hum drudgery are normal. You can’t always be on. The final product reads almost the same, whether you laboured a day to get that one sentence right, or if it flowed out perfectly the first time. Beyond the example of individual sentences, the overall story is much the same.  There can be parts of a story where you’re unsure of. You think what’s happening feels a little too forced, and you’re starting to lose momentum. You keep working on it though, and you reach a point where the excitement comes back. The story has a ‘little moment’, a part where it feels suddenly… better. And then it starts to flow again. Not only that, but the excitement returns.

It happened with my old writing prompts and I’ll admit, I didn’t have much respect for the concept. Getting 100 words out with a given prompt was no big deal for me, because I’m no stranger to starting a speck of prose and abandoning it to the file of “some day”. That’s why I decided to force myself to the prompts a cumulative exercise. Something unexpected happened during the last write-up for the prompt. I felt something. I started caring what happened to the character Owen. I felt a tinge of excitement. I started falling in love with it. At this point I realise I should really dig those old prompt-based pieces out, and throw them on here to accompany my writing challenges.

It also happened with the part I was writing today. I’d reached a point that I wasn’t very happy with, or rather, was no longer excited about. I’d been distraught. Crestfallen. Grief-stricken! Well okay, just mildly annoyed. There had been such a nice build-up in the previous part of the story, and had somehow found myself in a proverbial room-without-exits. I hadn’t planned enough. Instead of panicking, I let my characters do something instead. One had done enough flustering about, so the other – instead of waiting for the first to sort their problem out – started just doing things. Exploring through actions. Tentatively trying solutions, even though it wasn’t their area of expertise. They were going to start doing whatever they could, as a means to advance things. The world of the story started to react to their actions, and I reached a ‘little moment’.

Not everything needs to run like heated oil in a pan. It can’t always do that. Try to get oil to do that, and it burns. Your story won’t burn. You will. The most recent piece of fiction I shared on here was difficult. A struggle. It never felt anything more than forced, though it doesn’t read that way. It’s something I’m shelving because it doesn’t want to leave enough energy with me to let me also work on the novel, but I know with work I can get something wonderful out of it.

As for the things I’m keen to write – I can’t really fall in love with them until I lose the infatuation, and just like the real stuff, I know it won’t come all at once. Instead I expect it to come gradually, and that there’ll be days where I’m not feeling the story (or the part I’m working on), and occasionally a day where I’m so excited by the story that even the most gruelling scenes, or intense planning, just come nicely.

Yes, this whole blog entry is a long-winded way for me to say “I wrote today. The story was in a slow area, but I’m getting excited about it again now. Just like lurrrrve. And just like I said yesterday.”

If this all sounds familiar at all, yes, it’s from the vault. BUT UPDATED! The weird thing is how accurate it still is.

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