Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Little Piece of My Heart

I read this comment from a writer on an agent's blog this morning, and found it disturbing. 'In the end a book's just words on paper. It isn't me, or even a part of me. It's a product, a piece of work.'

I ask the quest
ion why this person is even writing if he feels this way? If there is no emotional attachment, such as the burning desire in the heart to write, what is the point of spending all those hours, days, months, and sometimes years, writing a novel? If it is only a product, then I would think there would be a lack of passion in the writing.

I feel the complete opposite. When I finish a manuscript it isn't just 100,000 words on paper. It is the completion of a journey to bring into fruition a story. It's hours of brain power, creativity, imagination, and a deep love for storytelling. A writer is what I am. My stories are a part
of me...they came from me. To say they are not separates me from my work.

Could we ever separate Margaret Mitchell from
'Gone with the Wind', or Harper Lee from 'To Kill a Mockingbird', or F. Scott Fitzgerald from 'The Great Gatsby'? Could we erase Jane Austen's name from Pride & Prejudice? And are these novels just words on paper...a product? Or are they something deeper than that?

If we can say novels are not a part of the writer who wrote them, then why even put their names on the covers? If a manuscript is just a bunch of words on paper, not part of you, then try to imagine someone tossing it in the fire
place. Quickly the pages ignite and begin to curl. A moment and your work is gray ash. What kind of emotional reaction would you have?

What if someone took the only copy of your manuscript and shredded it before your very eyes? How would that make you feel? What if you had failed to back up your file, and your computer died, and you lost all you had written? Would you feel crushed, sad, outraged? Or would you shrug your shoulders and say the following? 'Ah, well. It was just words on paper, not a part of me, unimportant to my life's journey.'

What is your view? Is your writing a part of you?

Surrender the Wind ~ A novel borne out of blood, sweat, and tears...All 100,000 plus words a part of the writer who wrote it.

To be released, August 2009


Stina Rose said...

Wow! I can't imagine feeling so detached from my writing. I find that what I write is a big part of me. I live, eat, and breath what I write...and then I dream about it at night. I would be horrified if something happened to my work and it was suddenly gone. Sometimes I think I am too attached to my stories. They are a part of me!

MaryLu Tyndall said...

My novels are so much a part of me that I feel they are in a sense, "my babies" I pour so much of myself into each book that I need a month to recuperate after each one. Any writer who does not feel passionate about his or her writing should consider another career, in my opinion.

Jessica said...

It absolutely is. I wonder if that commenter is published, and what his/her writing looks like.
That is disturbing and I'm not sure anyone in publishing could agree with that sentiment.
btw, the pic at the top of your post. I think I've sketched that before. Is it a famous painting or something? I'm a copycat sketcher and I think I saw a pic like that in my school book. Just curious.

Rachel said...

I can't imagine being detached from my writing either. My characters are as much a part of me and my life as my family and my fiance. I can't imagine life without them. I don't *want* to imagine life without them. They've gotten me through some really rough times and given me a place to retreat where everything always had a happy ending.

Lack of passion always shows up in one's writing. If that passion isn't there, the books really is just words on paper. I think passion for your writing is the secret ingredient to a page-turning novel. When the author is passionate it spills over onto the page and makes the reader passionate too.

The fireplace comment you made reminds me of when Amy burns Jo's story after Jo refuses to let Amy go to the theater with them. Jo's reaction is exactly how I would feel if someone burned one of my stories.

The finished product is a piece of work. The commenter has that right. Hopefully a beautiful piece of work that captures passion and a little piece of the author. Only when the book has that does it become a bestseller IMO.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

If felt that way I'd never write again.

But maybe this author is just suffering burn out and needs a break or maybe he/she has had all they can take from the higher-up's in the industry.

Or maybe he/she is just writing for money.

Whatever, I hope I never feel that way cause when I lose the joy in writing/creating - I'll quit or at least take a long vacation until I find that joy again.


J. M. Hochstetler said...

I agree with everything everyone has said, and I especially love your reference to Amy burning Jo's story, Rachel! Boy, did I feel that scene intensely the very first time I read it, and it still gives me an emotional reaction. That's exactly the way I would feel too. And if you don't, why are you writing????

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

A friend once burned a manuscript, thinking it had no value. She tried later to recapture the thoughts, but without success. She mourned the loss for years.

At that initial moment of creativity, a unique mix of my life experience and my values all come together. Every word on that page in some way reflects who I am, and how I see the world.

Detached? Not a chance.

Susan J. Reinhardt

Bonnie Toews said...

Perhaps this person is truly a wordsmith--has the craft but not the heart.

In some commercial writing--articles or columns--it is possible to become quite detached from writing--it's as if you're on automat. I've experienced the ability where if I am assigned 300 words, I think of the opening sentence and conclude at almost bang on 300 words. That's why novel writing has been such a magnificent experience because I have been able to let my passion loose. It is such a long labor of love I cant imagine anyone doing it with less than passion. Having said that, we've all seen formula style of novel writing, and it does seem to be written on automat. I can't discard such books fast enough.

As always, Rita, you have touched the heart of writing.

Onward and upward.

Sharon said...

How could one feel so blase about about their writing?So detached?I am hopeful it is just temporary burn out...Sharon