War of the Words

by Jane Porter

I’m in my own special writing place, a place that is hellish and yet oddly comfortable as I seem to spend lots of time here, wondering what I’m writing, wondering where this is going, wondering how I can possibly pull yet another rabbit out of the hat--an even harder feat when you’ve got no hat. (Or plot. Or likeable characters).

My preferred method of writing is to work in a feverish flush of imagination and determination.  I used to get lost in my stories, used to be consumed by the passion, and the words flowed. 

Or maybe my memory fails to serve.  Maybe I never wrote hard and fast and painlessly.  Maybe I’ve blanked those details out, much the way mothers blank out the pain of childbirth.

I do know some books come easier than others.  Every couple of books the story falls onto the page.  Mrs. Perfect, my newest novel out, was that way.  I poured that story out in a month’s time, living at my desk in a fog of plot and motivation and emotion.

My current book isn’t like that.   It’s a haaaaaaaaard write. It’s a slooooooow write.  So hard and slow I’ve had to push the deadline back repeatedly.  It was originally due May 15th, and then June 15th, and now its July 5th and there’s no more pushing back.  It has to be in.  It has to be done.  

Looking back, the writing of Mrs. Perfect was work, but this new one, More Than a Pretty Face, is war.  This book is a bed of nails, and every chapter’s excruciating as I write a couple words and then struggle, and then write another couple words and struggle some more. I pace and sit down and write another few lines and then pace and go outside and then come inside and force myself to sit down and write a few more.  And I’m only now on chapter 13.  That leaves about ten chapters to do in 8 days.  Without revising, editing, polishing.

No problem. 

When did writing get so hard?  Or was it just always hard and I wasn’t writing so much, or feeling the sales pressure, the review pressure, the success pressure?

I have to say, there are days when I would give anything to be the writer in the attic, unpublished, unknown and in love with my prose.  But I can’t go back, and truly, it’d be cowardly to retreat now.  I’m in the thick of it, in the heat of the battle.  The only thing I can do is write with courage.  Write with what Ray Bradbury calls ‘zest and gusto.’ 

I can do that.  And my readers deserve no less.

Jane Porter’s July 2006 release, Flirting With Forty (5 Spot), was picked by Redbook Magazine as its Red Hot Summer Read before being optioned as a Lifetime Christmas 2008 TV movie. Jane's newest novel, Mrs. Perfect, (May 2008, 5 Spot) has also received tremendous acclaim from her readers.  www.janeporter.com

Jane PorterComment