I love creating fiction, at least as much as I love reading fiction.
Sometimes I feel as though I have a thousand ideas, many of them feeling fully formed and perfect, while others are little more than a vague notion I still need to think about. I love almost everything about the creation of a story, from idea to finished manuscript, but it is definitely a process. Creating a story is much like having a child.
When the idea first comes to you, you are so excited and proud. You instantly know this will be the best thing you ever did. It is brilliant, and you are clearly the most creative person on the planet. There are so many things to do to get ready, and bring this idea into a fully functioning story. In spite of the morning sickness, the nerves, and the fears, you know this will be fantastic.
You are making your plans, and adding a little to your story every day. Sometimes it is a chapter or two of writing, other days it is a few notes on the outline. It is, at times, hard to know how your baby is doing, and you need to give it a check up to make sure it is growing healthy and strong. Of course there are days when you know you could keep this as your baby forever, and other days you wish it had grown up already. In spite of it all, you are amazed at how much your one little idea has changed.
Just as with a child or a small animal, sometimes the poo ends up in the wrong place. There will be days of messes all over the pages of your precious manuscript. Other days will be filled with long hours of focused energy, trying to keep your pages clean as you flush the waste away. It can be a difficult process for some stories, making you jealous of the stories that seemed to be clean over night. In the end, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as you end up clean.
4)The Teenage Years
Considering your story is only made of your own words, it should be difficult for it to talk back to you. But somehow, it does. The characters can be unlikeable, the plot full of holes, and have the whole idea suddenly stinks. You’re not sure how this happened, as the story you were raising used to be such a polite, clever, and delightful child. Now suddenly you are certain it has been doing drugs in the basement because that is the only explanation for how it is turning out. Before long, you don’t know what to do with it anymore. You still love it, but you’re not sure you like it much and you know you cannot continue to live with it this way. You cry, you fight, you threaten to send it to a severe editing session and cut it down to size. No matter what you do, nothing feels like it will ever get better.
Eventually your story outgrows its awkward, rebellious stage. The wonderful idea you once had has returned, a fully complete manuscript, ready to enter your personal publishing process. Maybe it has a contract to a major publishing house, maybe it is still looking for an agent. Maybe your story has decided to strike out on its own for the world of self-publishing, or even enter a contest. This story is now ready for the world, and ready to make you proud.
Of course, not all stories move out. Some simply move into your basement. Sure they call it their own apartment, and talk about how they need to find themselves, but you both know they have no ambitions anymore. They may have started out with so much potential, but now they can’t even get a job pulling in readers on a blog. Best case scenario has this novel in a writing workshop, demonstrating all of the things a writer shouldn’t do, and working to scare other stories into a good life of being published. As much as you know you should throw it out, you can’t quite get rid of it. It is still your baby, and you are still hoping for the day it grows up and becomes a novel.