Why writing a book is a lot like life

I don’t know if I’ve told you, but I’m writing a book.  I might have mentioned it once or twice…or a hundred times.


The thing is, I really believe in this book.  I’ve been working on it a long time…and by long time I mean more than a decade.  Oy. I have started and stopped, re-written and tossed.  I have had two characters remain at the core of the novel this entire time.  They are my friends…at least I think they are.  They may hate me since I’ve taken so long to tell their story.

How’s that for deflection?  I’ll blame my ficticious characters for my unfinished novel.

This latest draft, however, is The One.  You know how people always say you’ll “just know” when you meet the person you’re going to marry?  Well, I just knew the second I wrote the first sentence of this version that I had finally tapped into the core of who my characters are.

I found them.

Now, the challenge is to keep them moving and flowing forward in a cohesive manner.

Stephen King, my writing guru, says that when writing a novel you need to get it out as fast as you can.  Don’t stop to make edits, don’t get hung up on the details – just write.  You can go back later and fill in the holes.

I am finding this very difficult, Mr. King.  I see the validity of this and want to follow this advice, but the temptation to edit is powerful.  Because, you see, there are some moments in the book that are wonderful.  I love how they read and the imagery is powerful and I was obviously in the zone when writing.

There are other moments in the book, however, that are worthy of no more than kindling for a chilly night.  The rest of the book falls somewhere in between brilliant and suckalicious.

The problem with having worked on a book this long is I know exactly where I want my characters to go.  For the most part.  Some of them have already surprised me a bit.  But it’s the getting there that is slowing me down.  I’m so impatient to get to the exciting part – the part of the story that I know  – that I’m frustrated with the journey the characters are taking to get there.  I am bogged down in the details.

Life in general is full ofsimilar  ups and downs, isn’t it?  We have moments of excitement – first day of school, graduation, college, wedding day, birth of a child and so on…We live for these moments and anticipate them never really realizing the journey we take to get to those moments is every bit as important.  Those important moments are the peaks and after every peak we must descend for a bit before we reach another milestone.

But don’t we so often find ourselves impatient in the valleys and plateaus of life?  We get bored and frustrated.  We lose sight of the good of right now and only long and hope for the joy of the next big moment.  But we need the valleys and the plateaus.  They are, in fact, what builds…character.

It’s the same with writing a book.  The journey to the peak of each character’s story is so important, but in the anticipation of the big moment, I am impatient.  I’m bogged down in the details and the climb to the big moment feels endless and frustrating.

I just want to get to the good part.

But if I’m willing to relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the process of each step these characters take toward their individual peaks, I may actually learn a little something along the way.  And in the end, the story of their lives will reveal so much more beauty through the toil of their climb to the top.

And yes, as I wrote that sentence I totally started singing this song.

*sigh* I’ll bet Stephen King never busts out with Mily Cirus while he’s writing…


  1. I am so excited for this novel! You will get there! And I bet you’re right about stephen King and Miley. haha