She (yes, this book is a she to me, like boats, motorbikes and my snowboard) – she is planned out, mapped, my characters are all alive to me, and I roughly know what I want to happen. That doesn’t stop everyone from running around doing different things to what I expected – but that’s the same as the last book, so I suppose it’s ok. The problem is the sense of it.
The idea for Orlendr came to me a long time ago, and then slowly took shape over years in my mind. It started with the world itself, it’s mechanics and workings. Slowly this came to be populated with characters, forces and a story (well, stories, would be more accurate) began to emerge. So I know this world. But translating that knowing into something a reader can feel. Well, that’s being a right pain in the arse.
I thought I’d just be able to swan around all day in coffee shops, co-working spaces, the beach or even the ski-slope. Whip out my MacBook, rustle up a matcha latte, pen a few thousand words and before you know it be beating off agents with a turkey drumstick (a spoon is too conventional).
Because I know this story right?! I could tell it to you very easily. And yet getting it down in the right way feels suspiciously like work. It’s about grinding out a word-count, then editing it on the fly, then realising (usually the next day) that it’s total crap and reworking it.
Basically, it’s harder than I thought. Definitely much more mentally challenging that building a business (at least the ones I’ve done). More emotionally draining than a break-up as you get invested into the characters and (no spoilers) what has to happen to them – sometimes it’s painful to write. Finally it’s more time-consuming than expected – although my word-count expectations maybe weren’t as accurate as I optimistically planned out. It’s more like training muscles than inspirational creation.
That’s not to say I don’t love it. I do. And I want to see just how the story pans out. But if I ever find the teachers who told me as a child that “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” and “writing is a vocation, not work,” well; let’s just say I have a saying too: “if a picture’s worth a thousand words, a fist to the face expresses my irritation at your bullshit sayings.”