My writing experience has been very humbling lately. Not that I thought I was all that big-headed, but we all have our blind spots.
Last summer I was on fire with a crazy new novel idea that seemingly came from nowhere. I wrote the first draft quickly - more words than I'd ever written for any single project yet. And it was an awesome, inspiring, amazing experience. When I read this blog post about bright faith on Daniele LaPorte's blog, I went "oh yeah, I know exactly what that feels like". It's a high I've only gotten in these intense states of creation. I felt like I was really onto something, like I had something amazing on my hands, more amazing than ever before.
But the problem is there's a difference between the way I feel about a project or the way I feel when writing it and its actual quality and outcome. It is so easy to take that fiery emotion and feel as if it must equal magic on paper.
This is the struggle of most writers - to discern the difference between what's in their head - their imaginary creation - and what they've actually succeeded in capturing in words. There can be a huge disconnect there.
As I finished my second revision in January I was out of the passionate experience of creating, and truly seeing my creation for the first time. I realized my novel needed a major intervention.
It was embarrassing. I thought "Holy cow, one of my best friends has been reading this whole thing. What must she think?" (And yet I note my progress here - a year ago I was too scared to let anyone read anything.)
I had a full week where I filled up pages with brainstorming and squinted and stared and struggled and I remember saying to myself "I never want to write a novel like this again!" Meaning I don't want to write the whole thing and re-write it - score one for the "outlining" crowd. It was discouraging and overwhelming. I wasn't sure I could do it - that I could put everything aside and rethink it all.
But that's where that passion stepped in to help me because I was determined. I believed that I had something amazing if only I could properly shape it. It was time for me to move beyond the realm of emotion and intuition and into the realm of craft.
The truth is I need both. Passion to fire me up and keep me trucking, and craft to do it well and skillfully. I wish that when I'd started last summer I'd had both passion and craft harnessed working side by side. But I'm still learning how to do all this. It feels as if I learn a new lesson every month that I wished I'd known a year ago instead. But isn't that the process?
This is the challenge of a growing writer - learning craft, tapping into passion, and continuing to work, work, work.