July 13, 2006

"Fiction is the truth inside the lie." -Stephen King

Writing and waiting seems to be my entire world. I'm less writing right now than moving around blocks of words, playing Rubik's Cube with paragraphs. 'Edit' is such a clean and sharp-sounding word. Pity the reality is so messy.

The Books section of the Independent this weekend made me smile, with its rather good and snarky take on Children's lit: Guess what? it's not easy!

Now that writing a bestselling children's book has begun to edge out winning the National Lottery as the fantasy escape route of the stressed professional classes, a demonstrable truth stands in danger of neglect: that stories for children are just as difficult, if not more so, than stories for grown-ups, and not simply a refuge for dreamy adults who can't be bothered to write properly.
I'm so glad that someone recognizes the power of a well-written YA or children's book. Where would we all be without them? But to think that the writing is supposed to come easily? Hah.
Only someone who's never tried to wrestle fun and fancy into a few words for a picture book, or only someone who hasn't ever really tried to recapture the true voice of adolescence - strangled with pain, envy, impatience, anger and unspeakable joy - only those deluded souls think writing children's literature is easy, an instant path to success. The rest of us who know that writing is more like... life... know that it's not exactly impossibly difficult, but it's complicated, full of skidding and pulling and stumbling and coasting, as all true creation tends to be. As I try to keep my garden entirely clear of weeds, I remember that life breeds disorder. As I jumble together ingredients, I am reminded that eggs must break, milk must spill, dough must raise and be punched down before anything is finished. There are papercuts, nicked fingers and scalded wrists along the way. And so we persevere... and persevere...

"Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand -- a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods -- or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values." - Willa Cather

It's not really hard. I am not whining. I enjoy this. And I am not just saying so to convince myself. Really.

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher
Someday I will look back on this madness in Edit Hell as a happy time. Until then, let's all say it together:

I will try again tomorrow.


Pooja Makhijani said...

Hey Folks,

I *just* discovered this blog (you linked to my website in a previous post) and bookmarked it RIGHT AWAY. Great stuff here. I will surely be going through the archives.

Blog on!

TadMack said...

Glad you found us! REALLY love your site and hope you'll pop by ours again soon!


Pooja Makhijani said...

I'll be back daily :).


Disco Mermaids said...

"...playing Rubik's cube with paragraphs." Great analogy! That's exactly what editing feels like. For me, editing is more fun than the actual writing. But sometimes, as with Rubik's Cube, the more you mess with it, the more confusing it gets.

- Jay

TadMack said...

I think I've gotten to the bit where I want to pop the cubes out and ram them back in with a screw driver... this is why no one ever gave me a Rubik's cube... I ruined everyone else's...