“Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” –George Orwell.
Though I’ve seen this quote many times before, it’s only just now that it truly strikes a chord with me. I stumbled upon it in a recent post over at Invisible Ink, and I just had to express my own appreciation for it, especially now.
Don’t get me wrong. I love writing. LOOOOOVE it. Very few things make me feel as content and accomplished as those rare days where I can spend some time scribbling things on a piece of paper, inventing worlds and characters and fascinating, exciting events. I have been writing like a fiend lately, too, managing to surprise myself with the amount of writing I’m able to finish even in the midst of some very stressful and demanding changes going on with my Real Job. However, I am constantly feeling as though The End is still a long, long ways away. It’s a journey I (mostly) enjoy, but the sheer breadth of miles spanning in front of me is intimidating and sometimes a little overwhelming.
Often, I’ve proclaimed myself to be a novelist, though the one book I’ve published so far is of short stories. I think it’s fair to compare the two to running: the short story is a sprint, the novel a long-distance cross-country affair. I’ve done both, and, while I think I’ve done more with the sprinting, the mile runs were always the more gratifying. I must keep this in mind as I churn out page after page and realize that I’m only halfway to getting the novel finished, and that’s just the draft, before all the editing and formatting and more editing and beta reading and more editing and then some editing again. It’s a struggle, it’s not easy, it seems like sometimes you just want to give up and work on something else, but you can’t. You mustn’t. Like the illness Orwell describes, you must steel yourself and bear it, fight through it to survive, treating it with panacea of writing, writing, and more writing, like a giant horse pill that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but give it a few minutes, and you’ll feel incredibly better.
So, yes, writing a book is long, exhausting, and a constant struggle forward. It can be a lot like a leech that latches onto you and sucks you dry. But, in the end, when all is over, you break the fever of that illness and you feel better than you have in ages. So write on, stay strong. What doesn’t kill you only makes your book stronger.