Happy Friday! Or, if you’re in the service industry or some other non M-F deviljob, I wish you a swift passing of time until your next day of rest and offer you the Fistbump of Solidarity.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that Hemingway quote “Writing is easy, you just sit down at your typewriter and bleed.” I’ve been bringing it up a lot, because hey, I’ve been feeling it, particularly with this current book I’m writing.
My buddy Chuck Wendig of Beard tweeted a thing on Ye Olde Tweeter today about Self-Doubt. I capitalise the Self-Doubt because it seems sometimes to be a proper noun out to get us, and it made me ponder.
Writing is hard. (I still think Hamlet 2 shows one of the best actual on-screen depictions of what my experience writing is like.) (See featured GIF.)
I think one of the reasons writing is so hard is because of that damn Hemingway quote. It’s hard because in order to bleed you kind of have to open a vein. Writing something ambitious or personal or sensitive or emotionally charged takes something out of you. You are the one that spins that world into existence, and everything that gets put on a page is something you put there, which means you’re responsible for it and what if you fuck it up and what if the picture in your head doesn’t match the picture in words on the page and oh dog oh dog oh dog idk idk idk help
Uh….it’s something like that.
Writing this current book has been an exercise in exactly that. I’m ALMOST DONE with a second world fantasy novel that is also sort of alt history drawing from events and people who existed in This World. It’s at once super personal because I really relate to some of those people and because I’m taking a very personal angle with one of them and simultaneously walking tightropes that are constructed of gender and patriarchy and oppression and the intersections of marginalisation and privilege and a LOT of things that are deeply rooted in ME as much as they are deeply rooted in THIS world and also deeply rooted in THAT world, albeit sometimes in different ways.
This is, for me, the OwnVoicesiest book I have ever attempted, which means when I sit down to write it each day, it feels somewhat like I am not just opening a small vein but possibly working with arterial spurts. It’s SUPER MESSY. I myself have several intersecting marginalisations, but I do not have all the marginalisations. I have existed adjacent TO many marginalisations as well, which is not the same as being marginalised on those axes. There is blood spattering everywhere on this book and that doesn’t mean I will get everything right in the eyes of All Readers–even the bits that are my own personal experience.
I say all that because when that happens, sometimes it can mean I sit down and I immediately nope out because I feel like Whats Her Face in Teen Girl Squad after getting attacked by opossums and saying, “My blood hurts.”
Writing can be a hard and painful and draining process.
Today, I’m going to give myself permission for this draft to be everything I dread it is–if nothing else, so I can finish it and fix it then (IT IS ALMOST DONE SO CLOSE SO CLOSE). I’m going to give you that permission too. Fingerpaint with that blood. Make a MESS. It might look like art when you’re done.
(PS: THIS MACABRE METAPHOR IS NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY. PLEASE DO NOT OPEN ANY VEINS UNLESS YOU ARE GETTING PRODDED BY A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL WHO HAS A GOOD REASON TO NEED YOUR BLOOD OUTSIDE YOUR BODY.)
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