“A writer should always feel like he’s in over his head” by Michael Cunningham.
I am so happy a writer of more importance, talent and accomplishment than I’ll ever have admitted this. I suppose it validates that I am truly a writer.
While in the throes of a writing project, I nearly always feel like I’m in over my head. I’m not especially gifted. I’m definitely under educated, and reputedly out of my league among my writing counterparts. So when one proclaims that a writer should feel exactly the way I do year after year, manuscript after manuscript, I breathe a sigh of relief.
Writing takes a lot out of a person. I think the hardest part of writing is to make it look effortless. Readers don’t care about the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating a project. They want to get lost in the story. They want it to flow as if it magically flowed out of the writer’s pen…or keyboard.
Our role as writer is to create an exciting, restless, and unquenchable curiosity in the reader that compels him to keep reading through until the very end. It's not to make the reader aware of our anguish and toil.
A friend once told me of the difficulty she put into finishing a college paper. She said, “I’m not like you, Teresa. It comes easy to you. You don’t have to belabor every word like me.”
That was the greatest compliment I ever received. Of course, I had to go and ruin it by telling her she couldn’t be more wrong. I agonize over every word I write. I have been known to spend an entire day rewriting one paragraph where the hero tells the heroine he likes how her hair catches the light.
So no, it is never easy. But our readers should believe it is. Our egos cry out to let the world know how we toil over every word. We want them to know how we suffer, how we struggle, but yet, we overcome. Let’s face it. They don’t care. They don’t want to know. They just want a story.
This writing thing isn’t about us. Don’t kid yourself, dear writer. It’s all about the story. Every word, every carefully crafted sentence, every beautifully scripted page. It’s about the story. Let us not disappoint our readers. We should fascinate them. Intrigue them. Bewilder them. Enchant them. Even terrify them. But let us never be accused of disappointing them.