I’m reading one of Agatha Christie’s early works: “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” and I am filled with despair. Will I ever write anything good–or at least passable? Plenty of books that are poorly written go on to become quite successful (50 Shades of Grey, anyone?) and at least I’m enjoying working on my poor little novel (most of the time). Still, the thought nags at me that the passages I think especially good are the worst, and the sentences I think lackluster really shouldn’t be polished at all. What if I’m doing it all wrong? I have a grand time writing out a scene–I’m in the scene; living and breathing it with my characters–and when I re-read it later, I can’t tell if my writing style is overwrought or under wrought, or too imaginative or not imaginative enough. The things I write that are drawn from my own experience seem too fantastical. The things I pull from my own head seem flat and uninspired.
Because I am certainly going through the “agony” part of the writing process, I figure I should at least get the “ecstasy” part, too. So, this year that I am writing my first novel, I will plume myself on being an authoress. I will buy myself one of those necklaces with a Jane Austen quote under bubble glass, and make a fancy tote bag in which to lug my laptop around importantly. I will choose a coffee shop to haunt once a week, and type away with furrowed brow, while sipping on a latte. No, lattes don’t sound literary enough. Earl Grey tea will be my drink of choice. I will join a monthly book club and discuss other people’s works, and try not to despair of ever writing anything as good. I may even join a local writers’ association, where we can all sit around and congratulate ourselves on our superior insight into human nature. I can pretend to be interested in someone else’s epic poem about corporate greed, and someone else can pretend that my work in progress about a nanny who falls for her playboy millionaire boss does not make them think immediately of Fran Drescher and the 90s’ sitcom The Nanny. (Yes, that is what I’m writing about. I can’t believe it, either, but I’m on page 80 and there’s no going back).
Maybe if I make this writing process more about fun, I’ll actually write something that is a pleasure to read. Only one way to find out!