Friday, May 13, 2016
There is myth that when Martin Luther was translating the Bible, Satan came and tried to stop him from completing his work. The story goes that Luther threw his inkwell at the monster and it disappeared.
Although my minor mystery is not very important in the scheme of things, I'm a couple of days from click and send and that's when my demons come. One would think sending a book to an editor is the most triumphant stage in writing a book. A moment to be savored.
But no. For me, it's the time when odd impulses start tugging at my brain. In the old days it would have been to set fire to the manuscript. Now it's to hit Control-Alt-Delete. For some reason the same story that seemed just fine a month ago seems fantastic and amateurish at this point.
The most frustrating part of writing is the realization that a book can be improved into infinity. However, there is a point when we are in danger of editing the life out of a book. Words begin to look inept. Plots seem improbable. Characters seem unappealing.
Self-consciousness is a writer's worst enemy. The most important challenge we have is to banish everyone from the writing room. That includes demons. I, you, we, are the only ones who belong there.
The moment we stop to think what will my relations, my friends, my teachers, my priest, my high school principle, the boy who delivers my paper think of this? Is the book shallow? Self-indulgent? Pretentious? Amateurish? Dull?
It's important to follow Luther's example and bring out the inkwell in whatever form. Whatever it takes to click and send.
Just do it and send the demons right on back to hell.