First, go read this article.
Read it? Isn’t she awesome? That, my friends, was a post made by Catherynne M. Valente, whom I’d never had the pleasure of hearing about until the link to this article started flying around Twitter the other day. Turns out she’s a fellow U of Edinburgh alum. If nothing else, she’s freaking brilliant, attacking this ludicrous idea–apparently initially propagated by Plato–that writers are merely vessels waiting to be filled by the Muse.
As she says (my favorite quote from the whole article):
Hell yes, I wrote that book. Not my characters. Not my muse. Me. Every verb, every article. I’ve got the carpal tunnel to prove it.
Which is not to discount imagination or inspiration. It exists. But you can’t just sit around waiting on it if you want to finish stuff. It IS incredibly hard work. It’s frustrating work. Sometimes I feel like I’m back in the therapist’s chair waiting for a difficult patient to finally open up and tell me what the hell is going on, except instead of my clients, it’s my characters on the metaphorical couch. Oh how’s that for an analogy? Building Rapport With Your Characters. Maybe I’ll write a post on that later. :makes note:
But seriously. We have enough idiocy to fight among the general populace who, between awestruck idolization and queries of “I’ve got this idea for a book…how do I get published?”, seem to maintain this notion that writing is not work, that it’s somehow a hobby and why don’t we all go out and get a real job? I know I’ve definitely faced that kind of attitude from my mother. With her it’s not so much that writing is not a respectable profession but that it is not a “reasonable” profession. Both she and my father took this pat me on the head “oh that’s nice honey, but why don’t you get a business degree or become a lawyer?” I’m not bitter. I’ve just given up on them ever getting it. My husband gets it. My mother in law (best one on God’s green earth) gets it. If not for them, for the support of all my fellow writers and friends, maybe I’d have bought into the myth.
But I’m under no illusions. I know the path I’ve chosen isn’t easy. I’m still going into it with my eyes wide open.