On the agony of writing


I’ve written in some capacity since the third grade.   My first completed work was an alternate ending short story inspired by Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare.   I was very proud of that story.  I sat for hours, hunched over my desk, No. 2 pencil biting into my short stubby fingers, the eraser worn to the quick, and labored over every single word.  When I finished, I felt proud.  I had written a story.  From beginning to end.   I turned it in to my teacher, confident that I would earn an A for such blinding brilliance.  It was a great story.

My teacher saw things a bit different.   The evil Mrs. Rupe promptly tore my work to shreds, citing a laundry list of flaws, mistakes, and shortcomings.  She gave me a C.

I always hated Mrs. Rupe.

I’m not bitter about it.  Really.  Though, I do hold a special place for her at the top of my list of unforgivable grudges.  She was a miserable human being who should have retired from teaching long before 1980.   But for all of her petty viciousness, and she was awful for so many reason beyond just giving me a C, she did teach me a few important lessons:  writing is subjective, rejection is a rite of passage, and criticism keeps a writer grounded.

Of course, such lessons are meant for those who can actually finish something in a timely manner without falling victim to the hazards cluttering the road to success.  I seem to be having a bit of trouble navigating that thoroughfare, at the moment.   Or perhaps, it’s my mode of transportation that is faulty.  I blame the outline – I think it has a flat.

For several days, I’ve struggled to write a single scene, introducing a solitary character.   My trouble started when I made the decision to give Anna a brother.  His name is Aaron and he is a total pain in my ass.   I thought he would add an emotional depth and focus to the story, but instead he’s done nothing but cause me heartburn and an endless headache.  The latter may be from banging my head on my desk out of frustration.   I’m not really sure.  It’s hard to differentiate.

The way I see it, I have three choices:  delete him completely – move on and pretend he never happened; kill him slow and painfully – my novel is titled Retribution; or scrap the scene as it is and start over.

Oh lord, maybe I should tweak the outline again…ugh.

Writing is brutal; its hard; its agonizing.

I think I hate it.

But, I love it.

Note to self:  buy more Advil.

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Author: Peggy Isaacs

This is me. Is that you?

9 thoughts on “On the agony of writing”

  1. *puts a pillow on your desk* That should help. So should this. The first time I worked with an outline, I rewrote half of it. When did I do that? Halfway through writing the story. I got to a certain point and thought gleefully of where I was taking my characters next when one of them (yeah, Tavis) turned around and refused to make the trip. The new second half was better, which is why I took to saying Tavis is always right.

    I guess what I’m saying is that outlines should be able to evolve and change as you go. If you need to tweak it again, think of it as part of the learning process. Certainly, when you can’t write anything at all, that’s indicative of a problem.

    1. My writing group was a big help tonight. I am over-complicating things. Tomorrow is a down day for me. I am going to take a few hours and work on the outline again.

      Thank you for the pillow. 🙂 My aching head thanks you, too.

  2. The first story I wrote in 4th grade Sister Mary Barbara gave me a D and said my handwriting sucked! Who was it you once quoted, “write drunk; edit sober.”

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