Alex Sokoloff over on Murderati wrote the other day about feeling the love — how she feels about the writing experience, and she summed it up with “writing is agony, but not writing is so, so much worse.” I found her piece to profoundly describe so much of the experience of writing, it was as if she’d stepped inside my head and my heart and explained it. Which, when I started really thinking about it (and when you’re polishing up the second book and you have to turn it in pretty soon, your brain wants to think of anything but that deadline), I realized it’s that “stepping in” that makes it so magical for me, as a writer, and also as a reader. It’s not just briefly experiencing other worlds, other ways of being, other people’s point of view–and it is all of those things, true–but it is the moment the writer connects something for me that I hadn’t necessarily been able to articulate myself, or opens me up to a realization which had been simmering beneath the surface which I’d sensed but had not yet found a way to access. I’m not sure which pleases me more as a reader–to register the surprise of the profound thought, an aha! moment of recognition but still, surprise–or to be caught off guard and made to laugh, to find the absurd in the world, in the situation, and to be so fully in the character, in that world, that it cracks me up as if I’m there, experiencing the irony.

I guess it’s natural to think of these things as book 2 finally coalesces, where the bits and pieces it into place and the universe feels whole and organic. It’s amazing to have gone from an idea, from a blank page, to a finished world, because it’s more than just words typed on a page. The dictionary is words typed on a page. Finding the story, finding the heart, finding the laughter in the moment–these are the real gifts of writing. As I zoom rather frantically (and full of terror, I assure you) toward the publication date of book 1 (May 1st), I want to remember to hold onto this feeling. There are so many things that are now officially out of my control, and for a world-creator (which we writers are, which tends to make us a bit of a control freak), it’s destabilizing to realize there’s not a lot else I can do in this stage of the publication process. It may do well, it may not, who knows? It’s terrifying to even think about it, because I cannot sit next to every reviewer, every reader, and explain my intentions if they don’t like something. But this thing, this writing, this creating, has brought me satisfaction beyond joy. It’s what I always wanted to do, growing up: tell stories.  I am very lucky that I enjoy the actual process of the writing. Yes, writing is agony for me, but now that I examine it, not in quite the same way Alex was describing above. It’s agony because I want to do it so well, and I push myself and the bar ever higher, and I have no idea if I’m hitting the mark or not. It’s agony because I want to create, to have this finished world that people can dip into which will make them laugh and stay with them as a real place with real people long after they put the book down, and accomplishing that seamlessly is daunting and difficult. It’s agony because I want to dig as deep as I can while holding onto the goal (for it’s imperative a writer know what she’s writing–profound thoughts may accidentally work their way into a comedy / caper such as I writer, but to strive to be profound would be to distort the world). It’s agony because I think I have something important to say underneath the comedy, and I don’t know if I’ve yet said it well enough. It’s agony because I could stay in that creative process forever, neglecting too many people I love, if I’m not careful, and so I have to part with it at least some of the time in order to live in the world. It’s agony to let it go into the world on its own.

It would be far, far worse, though, to not have the writing process to comfort me while the first book is taking its baby steps into that world.

I wonder what brings satisfaction to the rest of the world that keeps them going?