Wow, it’s nice to finally catch up with you all and post on The Heroine Addicts! I’m in the middle of revisions of my latest wip right now, and am therefore by definition as mad as a box of frogs, but I’ll attempt to make a modicum of sense. Maybe.
A very talented author (who shall remain nameless, but might possibly not be unrelated to this blog—I shall say no more) said to me recently, that she was worried about beginning a project, because she wasn’t sure she could do it justice. It was perfect in her mind, she said, but she was worried that it wouldn’t work in the execution.
I think this is a familiar situation to a lot of us who are creative. We think up a story, or a picture, or a tune which seems utter perfection in our mind. It’s deep, it’s multifaceted, it’s beautiful. But when it comes to writing it down, or drawing it, or picking out the notes, it becomes something less than a dream or an idea. Something real. Something that can fail, and probably will, because how can any reality be as beautiful and perfect as a dream?
My stories always start out like a fizz in my head. They’re vague on details, except for some which are razor-sharp. They’re structurally incoherent, chaotic, exciting, full of infinite potential. And after writing several novels, I feel that my job isn’t to capture exactly this fizz on paper. If I tried to, I’d be endlessly chasing my tail, trying to make something good out of something that’s shapeless and doesn’t really exist. My job is to create something that is similar to the fizz, that has the same feeling to it, that is realistic, that has structure and plot and grammar and that works.
It’s always going to be a bad representation of what I dreamed it would be. The act of creating is, to some extent, always the act of failing to create what you really wanted to.
This could seem sort of depressing, and maybe it is, but actually I find it exciting. As writers, we can strive for perfection, but we can't always reach it. Maybe we never will. We have to do the best we can, right now, and always write with the possibility that we’re going to revise to make it better. Very often, the act of writing refines your original perfect idea, makes it sharper, or more unusual or interesting.
And in lots of important ways, the imperfect reality is better than the perfect dream. A dream stays inside your head, known by you alone. But you can let a real story go into the world and have readers experience it. And—here’s the best bit—a reader never saw your original dream. They don’t know your own personal version of what perfection is. All they see is the little bit of the fizz that you managed to get down on paper.
And maybe that little bit of the fizz will be perfection for them.
How do the stories you’ve written measure up to your dreams of what they will be? When you finish a project, do you feel that you’ve done everything you’d dreamed of doing, or is it a wonderful compromise?
Stay tuned till Sunday, when Anna Louise Lucia will be posting.