Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Imagination Vs. Reality

I just finished a book I've heard endless praise about: Across the Universe. I gobbled the whole thing up in a day and it's still messing with my mind. When I finished, I read the acknowledgement page.

Before I got serious about writing I would skip that page and close the book, but now I read every line. It's always fun to see people I 'know' (via the internet) mentioned on acknowledgement pages, but I thing I really enjoy is getting a glimpse into how much work it takes to make a book.

I had to laugh when I read Beth's acknowledgements becasue her writing processes sounded a lot like mine. This particular paragraph stuck out to me.

"The best part about being a writer is having writing friends. Roybn Campbell and Rebecca Carlson helped me hammer out the first draft of Across the Universe, Heather Zundel and Christina Farley helped me break it to pieces and write it back better, and Erin Anderson, PJ Hoover, and Christina Marciniak told me Across the Universe was finally done and I should just submit it already."

Um, wow. Write it back better? Yeah, I'm there. I feel that. It's hard to believe that that Beth Revis ever struggled when all I've done is read this perfectly polished book. I mean, the story is brilliant! Wasn't it that way the first time she wrote it?

Here's the thing, in my imagination the book should come out on the page how it's suppose to be, but in real life it doesn't work that way. Writing is hard work. No one should expect to get it right the first time around.

It's a struggle where only the strongest survive. I have to ask myself if I am strong enough. If I've just given up then the answer will be no. The fact that I'm still here says something. I'm stilling trying and I'm not  going to give up until it's finished.

31 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

It's funny, I was always delusional enough to believe that finished books just fell out of a writer's head perfectly formed. That's why I spent so long thinking I was rubbish - because I wanted perfection in the first draft. Silly me!

I love reading acknowledgements! One of the things I am most looking forward to when I finish writing my book, is writing acknowledgements!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Reality is a funny thing, isn't it? When I first considered outlining my first book, I decided I wouldn't because I didn't want to write it twice. O_o

I finally started queryinbg at 13 full edits. But I did discover that, for me, the real writing happens in the editing, so I'm not too fussed anymore. Though my curent WIP that I did the first draft during NaNo is complicated enough I'm going to learn how to use Scrivener.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I love reading the acknowledgments when I finish a book. It's a habit now. I just love seeing all the people that helped the author get the book published. :)

Ashley Nixon said...

I am totally feeling this right now too. lol. My book is going to be completely different when Amber gets finished with her edits. lol. I also love acknowledgement pages!! Can't wait to write my own.

LynNerdKelley said...

I love to read the acknowledgements page in a book. Yes, wouldn't it be nice if our first draft was polished and ready for publication? Ah, dream on, huh? You're so right about only the strong survive. Writing is tons of work, but it's all worth it.

Suze said...

Easy reading is damned hard writing.

--Nathaniel Hawthorne

Mark Noce said...

You highlights the importance of perseverance and community. Oddly, all part of the mix that goes into the solitude of being a writer;)

Morgan said...

Sooooo true, JA. The fact that you are still here says A LOT. It's such a trying craft... and I'm so inspired by your words of not giving up. We're all holding you to that and we all want you to succeed. Such a great post---and it's funny how there is comfort in knowing that even the people that have already "arrived" struggle too, LOL. ;)

Laura B said...

Suze, Thank you for that quote.

Easy reading is damned hard writing.
--Nathaniel Hawthorne

LOVE it. It makes total sense. Jenn, this post is right on, and I've had some of those thoughts before, but never as perfectly explained as you just did.

Cassie Mae said...

I felt the same way about some books and I had to keep telling myself they didn't start off that way. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's part of the reason it's so good then - she had a lot of help and took the best advice to make the story better. My three critique partners made my second book so much better than the first. And yes, I dedicated CassaFire to them.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I always read the acknowledgments now that I have CP's. They put so much work into your book.

Leigh Covington said...

Oh man! I've heard great things about this too! Looks like I better get it in my hands NOW!... or at least on my kindle! lol. Glad you shared. And I've started reading acknowledgements lately and they can be so much fun! Love the part you shared from Beth's. :)

L.G.Smith said...

I've had that moment of reading the acknowledgement page and saying, "hey, I know that person!" It's true, once you've seen or helped someone go through the process of getting a book from query to publication you realize just how much work it really is. And hopefully the reader will never know. :)

Krista McLaughlin said...

I thought books like that were perfect the first time too, but we are wrong. :) And you are strong enough to keep going, as long as you have people behind you - keeping you going and watching your back. :)

Ruth Josse said...

Ha, I used to skip the acknowledgements page too until I started writing. And I am constantly asking myself if I'm strong enough. I'm still working so I guess I am.

Tara Tyler said...

still hanging in there
hard to know if i'm wasting my time, tho. i hate wasting time, but it takes time to get it right.

the circle of writing...

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

First of all, never give up. It's the ones who really want it that get published. Keep pushing, keep working, you'll get there.

But the writing is fun, don't deny yourself that. It's the editing that's the hard work.

:)

JEFritz said...

It is a struggle where the strongest survives and as the acknowledgement page proves, we can't do it alone.

But I am relieved when I see other writers struggle. Especially good writers.

Jay Noel said...

My current project has been through several incarnations throughout this revision process...and I couldn't have done it alone.

There's usually a whole platoon of people behind every great writer.

erWing said...

I want to tell you two things: the first is that I write absolutely alone but I have the company of everything I've read in previous years. The second is that I write spontaneously, without thinking about it too much. I feel the idea and the water begins to flow: I can not stop it and I put the words on the blank page. I'm not sure this is really writing and if the writing is really hard work as you say, for me writing is a release to keep in time.

Carolyn V said...

So so true. Writing is work! And lots of help from other writers, editors, etc!!!! And we all struggle from time to time. We're all in the same boat. ;)

Gwen said...

When I first started writing I thought of books like school essays. You'd get your rough draft back with grammar fixes on it, wrong details pointed out, and encouragement to link things back to your thesis. Relatively small things, now that I know in reality that the second draft is a whole brand-spanking new rewrite.

Brenda Sills said...

You know what? This is a super post! I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing the quote from Beth's acknowledgements and your great insights. And I love your powerful determination!

Anonymous said...

No doubt writer friends sure provide the support we all need to carry on!

Oh, and thanks for popping over to my blog. I followed you back. Leigh's awesome! :)

Pk Hrezo said...

Amen to that! This book's on my TBR list and will be read in next month or two. I saw Beth on a vlog on Write On Con last year and she held up her stack of mss that never saw the light of day and she confessed she didnt make it to publication until 5 or 5 stories later. I just really held onto that, to remind myself that it does take time. And even tho there may be those writers who seem to strike it big on their first, they are few and far between.
And so we struggle thru together... and learn, and learn, and learn. And maybe even cry on each shoulders a little bit, cuz you're right... it's tough!

Cherie Larkins said...

Amen! Writing is hard work. There are no shortcuts or an easy way out (well, I guess there is if you self-publish even if it's not ready. But there won't be a guarantee of a success.) Those who think they can just hammer out a first draft and start submitting are in for a disappointing long haul.

Hope Roberson said...

Great post! I now wonder what the first draft of every published book looks like, what notes their cp's left for them, what revisions were requested. It's a really cool process and I need to remind myself that books aren't perfect to start with, a lot of work goes into them :)

Christa Desir said...

She was very honest about this process in real life. At RT, she talked about how she cut 20k in one sitting, how many books she shelved before getting it right, and hilariously, how when she gets stuck, she kills more characters. :)

David P. King said...

Way to be! Your perseverance will pay off in the long run. :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

It IS a struggle. It's so much better to have such great people surrounding us that make this struggle so much more fun!