A common interview question for authors is: What do you like least about writing and most about writing?
For me, the first part of the question is the easiest. I don’t particularly like writing the first draft of a novel. Why? Well, I’m usually eager to write it–don’t get me wrong–it’s exciting and the story is usually tugging at me to get written, but it’s tough because even if I prepare an outline and character bios, I still have lots of unanswered questions. I’m not sure of every single character, every plot detail, every subplot. I might have some more research to do as I go along. The wording won’t be perfect. As I write, I may decide to change something major in the story, dump a large portion, or rearrange some things. It can get messy to say the least. The term ‘exploratory surgery’ comes to mind.
As most writers can tell you, the first draft is often more of an exploration and less of a finished product. It’s rough and sometimes leaves the writer questioning his or her skills. It’s only on second and third drafts that the book takes on its real shape. And it’s during the line-edit phase that it gets polished. Proofreading is the final phase.
While the first draft is fun because I’m creating something brand new from nothing except a blank screen and my vivid imagination, it’s also a bit stressful. Perhaps that stems from the assorted books I’ve started but didn’t finish for whatever reason. I suspect most of us have at least a couple of those books tucked away somewhere. Still, even with the stress, I can’t stop writing. I must admit that I’ve had times when I’ve questioned whether I should continue writing, wondering if it was worth the time and hard work that I invest. But I always come back with a ‘yes’. It is worth it in ways that are difficult to explain. It’s certainly not a monetary worth because most authors–at least new ones–don’t make much money.
So what is it that makes me keep writing? What is it that I like best about writing? It’s creating something not only brand new but unique and hopefully meaningful to other people. It’s editing and proofreading a book and turning it into that finished product. It’s seeing the book cover that was designed specifically for the book and it’s holding the print copy of the book for the first time. It’s sharing the book with other people and getting their feedback. It’s knowing that I’ve entertained at least a few readers and given them something to think about.