Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some Promises

Sorry for the late post, I was kind of working all morning. I finished yet another round of edits today. You'd think I'd get tired of this, that it wouldn't be exciting anymore (especially when I'm going on like round 19 or something like that), but each time actually feels more triumphant. I can't believe I read it again. I can't believe how close it's getting. I can't believe it's...good.

I took myself to lunch in celebration. A bento box seemed appropriate.

But while I was out, I realized how soon these edits could be done, and of course my mind drifted to the next task. What is up with that? Writers really never stop working, do they?

I'm all fluttery nervous to get back to Transparent, the WIP I'm rewriting. I wanted to finish it before this other edit, but it just wasn't in the cards. And so I have to jump back in, about half way through.

If I'm being honest, I've struggled a lot with that book. I've loved it, hated it, doubted it, hoped for it, and everything in between. I've beaten it up, and in turn it beat me up. I've considered many times that maybe this story, this character, is too big for a n00b writer like me. Anything bad you can think about your writing, I promise you I've thought it about Transparent.

But I don't want to go back to the book with this mentality. I remember how hard it was to write thinking every second how much I was wasting my time. During lunch today, I did something really dorky: I decided I needed to write a letter to my book. I had stuff to say to it. So here goes...

Dear Transparent,

I know things got ugly there at the end, before I took this break, and I want to apologize for treating you like crap. I blamed a lot of stuff on you, told you daily how awful you were, threatened to throw you out when I didn't know what to do or how to fix things.

It was wrong of me. I mean, how could I expect you to show up for writing time when I treated you like that? I wouldn't want to be written either after all the mean things I did. I don't even blame you for not flowing out of my fingers.

It was my fault—I put my own feelings on you. I felt like I wasn't a good enough writer to create you. I felt awful for not being strong enough to push through. I feared I'd never be able to fix you. I'm still afraid I won't be able to make you what you deserve to be, that I'll always fail your plot and characters and prose.

I know I've been a jerk, but I still want to write you. I still love how quirky and cool you are. I know I've treated you with disrespect when I should have nurtured you. I know I've been intolerant when I should have had patience. But when we start this again, I promise it'll be different. I have lots of promises for you, ones I intend to keep.

1. I promise to love you.
From page one, I knew you were special. You scared me because you were so different and challenging, but I fell in love quick. Maybe too much love because I never wanted to hurt you. Anyway, I promise to remember that love, even when things get rough.

2. I promise to separate my feelings from you.
When I feel like a bad writer, I promise I won't take it out on you. It's not your fault—you are the good idea and I'm the clumsy artist. If I doubt my ability, I promise to keep working because you deserve to be finished. I will remember that what I feel isn't always true.

3. I promise to treat your characters with respect.
I will be true to their feelings. I will admit when I've painted them wrong and fix it. I will love them, even if I have to hurt them. I promise to portray them as the flawed, strange people that they are. I will not get upset when they don't cooperate with me—instead I will ask them what the problem is. And finally...

4. I promise to treat your plot with respect.
If I mess it up, I will fix it. If I don't hit the right notes the first time, I will try again. I promise to write your plot as compelling as I possibly can, and I promise to admit when I've failed and should do better. And if I do get it right, I promise not to panic and wonder if I didn't.

I know it won't be easy, but I hope we can get along the next time I open your Word Doc. I meant it when I said you deserve to be written, and I'm sorry that I made you feel otherwise. I know a better writer could probably handle you just fine, but I hope you'll stick with me. We can do this. It will be better this time. I promise.



  1. YOU GO, Natalie! I've been reading you for a while now, and even though I don't know you personally, I know you will get this finished and it will be awesome! Goodest of luck to you!

  2. That's a fantastic letter to your MS. Love it. :) And I'm sure things with Transparency will get better; it's a great story (from what I've seen) and you're an amazing writer. Good luck!

  3. Makes me think of the capri sun commercials: "Respect the book! RESPECT IT!"

  4. I just found your blog and I like your writing style. So, I joined. If you'd like to check mine out at: I'd love to hear from you.
    Have a great evening!

  5. Haha, you are one original writer, girl! However did you think of writing a letter to your ms?! It's brilliant. And yup, don't worry, you'll get back to it, and you two will make beautiful music together. It has a great premise, so that's one up already. (But if you have any flashes you might forget, meanwhile, jot them down in a Word doc!)

  6. Ooo maybe I should try that with DISCOVERY. Max tends to be very hormonal. Perhaps a promise letter will soothe him?

  7. Is it pathetic that this made me teary-eyed?

    "When I feel like a bad writer, I promise I won't take it out on you. It's not your fault—you are the good idea and I'm the clumsy artist. If I doubt my ability, I promise to keep working because you deserve to be finished."

    {nods} I promise that to my works too. Or I will now, anyway.

    I know this post is perhaps a little tongue in cheek/humorous, but I think it's also deeper and more emotionally honest than some people might notice or appreciate.

  8. What a great idea to write a letter.

    Plus, your letter reads a best friend or significant other that has hurt someone terribly in the past. It's the sweetest thing.

  9. Natalie,
    I have never commented on your blog before, though I have visited many times.

    Oh, how this post spoke to me! I could have written this same letter to one of my own projects (except I wouldn't have done it nearly so well!).

    I can relate 100% to everything you're saying about this novel you have struggled with, have felt was too big for you, have treated terribly because of how frustrated you'd become. I have been there and done that!

    I'm not ready to return to that particular manuscript of mine yet. I need to finish something else I started, first (and maybe even write a bunch of other somethings before I dare go back). But I am going to bookmark this post, and I shall return to it again when I am ready to face my big, beautiful-but-intimidating project once more.

    It's so hard, Natalie. But that you are going to stick with it and not just trash the whole thing says so much about you and what kind of writer and person you are. That book of yours is going to be phenomenal, and I think mine will be too, someday.

    Thanks so much for putting your heart on the line here and letting people see what it's like sometimes to be a writer.

    All the best to you as you forge ahead with this and all your other projects!

    ~ Kimberly

  10. This sounds like a classic case of brain lateralization! The left brain (the critic) is bossy and beats up on the right brain (the nice, sensitive, creative, artistic side) and takes over. As a result, the non-creative left brain starts trying to do the creative job, and fails at it. Then, critical as it is, makes judgment that the thing it took over doing sucks!

    Protect your creative side from your critic!

  11. This is an AWESOME idea, Natalie. Just awesome. I'm going to steal it at once.

  12. Brilliant idea Natalie - so brilliant in fact that I'm now considering writing one to my own WIP as I'm feeling completely inable to keep writing it. Keep going :D

  13. I think I need to write a letter to my WiP now...I've treated it so badly over the last few years. (Yes...years...)

    Thanks for the inspiration again!