Monday, October 29, 2007

Self-Loathing and The Writer

At the beginning of every new writing project I experience a sort of euphoria. I have a great idea, and it's coming together. I'm immersed in the story, meeting the characters, convinced that I'm creating something real and powerful.

Then I read it and revise bits. And read it again, and again, and again, as I try to polish it, and eventually I cross that barrier where I can no longer be objective about my own work. And just a few paces down that road is the town of I Can't Stand It. This happens every time. I don't know if it's a psychological phenomenon or a trick of biology, but with each new creation I go through the predictable stages that begin with love and fascination and end up with that lack of objectivity and something close to hatred.

Is this a universal thing? If so, what is it that makes us ultimately reject our own creation and want to move on to something different? Is it a fear of revision, or a necessary breach which allows us to begin again? Is there a way to reclaim love for one's written words?

Writers and readers, I'd love your opinions.


Eric Mayer said...

Maybe the problem is that old typewriter you're using! The idea of revising on that would make me hate anything I hadn't revise.

Actually, I go through the same cycle. I love the books when I'm starting them and by the time they are done I think they're trash. Who knows why. Maybe it's just that I can never, ever, manage to get down exactly what I had in mind at the beginning.

Julia Buckley said...

I'm glad I'm not alone in this, Eric. Thank goodness for those people who are willing to read and critique objectively, because by the end I'm ready to throw everything out.

Bill Cameron said...

It comes and goes for me. At the beginning I might be excited, but often I feel like I'm not finding the guts of the story. So while I'm excited about the concept, I often feel incapable of realizing it on the page.

Then I do some more work and maybe I start liking it. But after while, as I work downstream, I might find myself second-guessing my ideas. Back and forth, forth and back. At some point, I conclude I've reached the end. Usually by then I feel it's as good as I can make it, though maybe I feel that isn't saying much.

What's exciting about it all is the way I can cycle from glee to self-loathing and back again in a matter of minutes, often in the middle of the night when I really need to get some sleep.

Julia Buckley said...

Geez. What a crazy compulsion writing is!

Ria Kennedy said...

It is despair, pure and simple. Despair that it isn't going the way you want or that it is going the way you want. And it feels like it's all taking place under a microscope.

Sometimes I literally chuck it, but usually I just make my peace with it and meekly make a few improvements when I've gotten some distance and can look at it with perspective.

It's just so damn personal!

Julia Buckley said...

You are so right, Ria. But it's comforting to know I'm not alone. :)