I am an author, but I hate writing
It may seem strange that I say so, especially considering that in the last seven years I published thirteen books. And yet it’s true: the act of writing for me is real suffering.
First of all, I need to make a clarification. This aversion of mine only concerns fiction. The last book I wrote, still unpublished, is non-fiction and I must admit that I enjoyed writing it. It certainly helped that it was just a matter of expanding the program of a course I teach at university, turning it into a book. Having a complete outline and a precise knowledge of what I should have written made it relatively easy and relaxing to write. I just had to write down what I already knew.
With fiction, on the other hand, that’s a different story. There is creativity involved, which can be truly capricious. Added to this is the anxiety that my creativity is not enough or that, although I have good ideas, I cannot turn them into written words as I would like to. Finally, there is the fact that my mind fights any imposition my sense of self-discipline is forced to use to overcome the other two factors.
This mixture of indecision, unfounded self-doubt and rebellion makes me try to relegate writing to a well-defined period of time separated from those in which, fortunately, I don’t write. Thus, when this period approaches, anxiety rises, until the day arrives when I have to begin the first draft of a book and therefore face the monster in a daily battle, made of: resistance to writing, which is the most difficult part; actual writing, of which I usually have little memory, except for what concerns the desire that it’s over as soon as possible; and, finally, the end of writing, which is the best moment, my reward, the reason for everything.
You may wonder why on earth I do this job if I hate writing.
Well, nowadays, I do it for the moment following the end of the daily writing session, in which I feel satisfied with having done my duty. But I do it also for the even greater satisfaction that comes when I complete the first draft of a book, since it means that the book now really exists and I no longer have to write it (hurray!). And above all I do it for the indescribable pleasure I feel, weeks or months later, as I read that first draft from beginning to end, reliving the whole story with the characters, not recognising the words I wrote and marvelling that they really are my own work.
In other words, I hate writing, but I love having written, and this is the primary reason why I write.
After all, the point is precisely this: I write the books I would like to read. I tell the stories that come to my mind, because in this way I make them real. They are no longer an evanescent thought, but they are down on paper, indelible, and create memories in my mind that are even more vivid than those of the events I actually experienced.
And then there is a non-negligible secondary reason: writing makes me earn money, which in my thoughts legitimises the fact that I devote time to it and expose myself to such suffering.
Yet my relationship with writing hasn’t always been so problematic.
About seven and a half years ago, when I started writing to publish — i.e. with the certainty that what I was writing would reach a readership, however small — dealing with the act of writing seemed easy enough to me. Not that I considered it really pleasant, but it was a necessary and bearable evil that stood between the exaltation elicited by the idea and the one I experienced once I had put it on paper.
I told myself that nothing could take away my writing from me, because it depended only on me. Unluckily, I had far too much confidence in the solidity of my passion for this profession.
Thinking back to that period (actually, not long ago) and comparing it to what I live now, I realise that at the beginning I really had so much to say, a rich inner life to put at the service of my creativity and pour into the characters and their stories.
What changed since then?
Sometimes I feel that through the books I wrote I already said everything that I felt I had to express. I used all the available sensations that allowed me to define my characters and now I’m just recycling them. Hence the resistance towards writing and, at the same time, the difficulty of having to pull something out of nothing.
But here is another difference compared to seven years ago.
I didn’t have the discipline and technique I have now. I used to write because I had something to say, otherwise I would’ve never had the strength or the determination to do it.
Now, instead, I know how to write a story, I know how to scrape off the elements necessary to give life to a character from the surface of my parched imagination, I know how to show everything so that I drag the reader along and make the book interesting, even if, after all, it doesn’t seem so interesting to me.
I don’t feel I have something to say, but I know I can still find it.
In a nutshell, I am no longer an amateur who embraces a passion, but a professional who works seriously and knows she can do it quite well. I know that writing is able to offer me what I desire more than anything else in my life: the personal fulfilment you feel when you earn money by creating something of which you are proud.
Precisely for this reason, even if I deeply hate to write, as long as I feel that it is the path to this fulfilment, I cannot and do not want to stop doing it.