Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Creative Process


About once a month or so, my husband, after listening to me jabber on about one of my current projects, asks me, "So, what's going on with the other book? The one you started submitting to agents?"

I usually reply along the lines of, "Not much. I need to do some rewrites. But, I'm trying to get the draft done on this other one first."

This is usually grumbled about by my lovely husband, asking why I can't finish one project before working on the other one. Mentions of making money at my craft are also stated. And while that would be nice, I realize that he is not a writer, so I try not to take his grumblings too seriously--he doesn't understand the creative process, even after being around me for seven-plus years, during which I've written at least 3 whole novels and started at least 5 others.

His latest tirade (maybe too strong a word, but at the time, it usually seems that way!) led me to write this post.

Non-writers very, very rarely understand the processes we writers go through. They very rarely realize that the first draft is just that--the first in a process. Unless we've been writing for years and have been published numerous times, we can't just whip up a draft and shoot it off to our agent-du-jour. It must go in the drawer (or for me, into the depths of my trusty flash drive) for a while before taking it up again to view the draft with fresh eyes and begin to perfect and tweak it.

And, even when we think we've got it done, we need to have another person review our work--whether that's in the form of a critique partner/group, an editor, or agent. From that point, there may be further rewrites, even such things as chopping characters, adding scenes, deleting sub-plots, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

If only our friends and family understood half of what we go through. All they usually see is the finished product (sometimes not even that), and they can read that in a few hours. They don't get the fact that we spend months, sometimes even years laboring over that work that takes them an afternoon or a day to read.

As I write this, I'm wrapping up the first draft of my science fiction project. While it's been fun, and my normal process is to jump right into the initial rewrite, I'm actually looking forward to picking up my present-day mystery/romance and working on what I believe is the fifth draft. I lost count after number three, and it's been a long time since I've spent any time on it--probably before the birth of my daughter last fall. With some luck by this time next year one or both of these projects will be well enough put together that I'll be confident in sending them off to an agent or three again.

Then my husband will be happy. At least until I start the process over again.

Until next time,


11 comments:

Tommie Lyn said...

You're right, Liberty...non-writers don't understand.

TL

Lorna G. Poston said...

No they don't. My friend Jon thinks I can whip out my current novel, send it off and be successfully published in a manner of WEEKS. Then be rolling in money and never have to hold down a day job again.

Liberty Speidel said...

Isn't that funny?? *giggles* More and more people in my family ask me how my writing is going, my father-in-law was the most recent just this evening!

Education is key. That, and experience. Once they SEE the process, they may actually get it. =)

Tabitha Bird said...

so true. So many people think that once you have written the book you go get it published-simple. They have no idea about drafts or edits or query letter and agent hell.
Great post :)

K.M. Weiland said...

Aw, the mysterious life of that mysterious creature known to us as the writer. Heck, sometimes *I* don't even understand it all! :p But I've learned to roll with the punches and accept (most of the time) that non-writers simply aren't going to get it. My motto: "I live in my own little world. But that's okay - they like me here." ;)

Liberty Speidel said...

Thanks for sharing, Tabitha & Katie!

@Katie: I've heard that motto before (probably on a bumper sticker or something) but whenever I've repeated it, I get looks from others that say I'm completely nuts. Ah, well. :D

I *do* have a magnet on my fridge that says 'Careful, or you'll end up in my novel.' Ha ha! That's how I get back at people!!! :รพ

Suzanne said...

The folks in my Sunday School class and others who have been praying for my writing are beginning to understand just how long and tedious the writing journey is as I report how things are going (or not) every month or so.

Here's another good writer's motto, Katie and Liberty: Don't make me mad. I might kill you off in my novel.

Liberty Speidel said...

Suzanne: That motto is a distinct possibility, being a mystery writer!!

Lynnette Bonner said...

Good thoughts, Liberty. I, for one, wish they were all right! LOL.

Katie, love the motto!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Liberty: I complained to the Lord about this very thing recently and He said, "they don't have to understand." That's all He said, no further explanation.
I took it to mean that it should be enough for me that HE understands, and applauds what I am doing for Him. If I seek the applause of men, I get myself into trouble.
I am not rebuking you in any way, just sharing my experience. It would be nice if non-writers understood, but they never will, so I just frustrate myself if i expect them to- LOL!

Liberty Speidel said...

Jeanette,

Excellent point! While I don't necessarily seek the applause (though it is nice!), it seems important to me that those that should be closest to me should at least attempt to understand what we as writers go through... Though, I guess sometimes that's too much to ask... ;)

Perhaps as we continue to work through our processes, they'll see and at least take a step closer to empathizing, even if they never totally get it. :)

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