Gene Fowler said, “Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
I’m in two writing groups – or rather, I am in one and I kind of lead another for some of the youth at church. The first time I met with the youth writing group I made a suggestion to one of them about her submission and she said, “but it’s so hard.” I quoted Gene Fowler to her. We laughed – but it’s true.
In my other writing group – they just finished critiquing my current novel. I hated the ending but they said to send it and we’d work on it together.
I used to think that a writer didn’t need a “support group”. What of Walden Pond? Aren’t writers supposed to be alone, isn’t that the appeal? However, I find writing alone is necessary but editing is a community project. I’ve loved my writing group and they have really helped me to develop my skills (though punctuation may never stick).
If I’m being honest – everything they had issues with I did too. I either knew I had taken a short cut or the easy way out of a situation but somehow hoped they’d find it up to snuff. They didn’t of course and all I could do was cringe and nod because I knew they were right.
This morning I got an email from one of the women with suggestions on how to change the story to make it stronger. When I first read the email I thought, Nope. No way, too much work. Then I read it again and decided that maybe parts of it were possible. It’s hard and it’s going to get harder as I delve deeper but in a way I think it’s forcing me to do what I should have done in the beginning, developing the characters and know where I’m going. Because you see, I’m a fly by the seat of pants kind of writer and you can tell when you look at the whole story and see the loopholes. “Why does your main character do this? What makes her so special?” Well guys, I hoped it would come out as I kept writing and then I just hoped you wouldn’t notice it never did.
For me – I love finding the story and I’ve always worried that planning ahead would take the joy out of that. But I think no matter what approach I go with, the story I conceptualize will change as I write and that will be okay because I will know my characters better and we can handle the change together.
That being said – I’m off to completely change several years worth of work.