Why Writing An MS Is Like Being In A Relationship

July 3, 2010 at 5:30 am (Replay) (, , , , , , , , , , , )


I’m on holidays at the moment but I’m reposting some of the more popular posts from my old blog, Darkened Jade. If you leave a comment I’ll be sure to catch up with you when I get back.

Originally this was an offhand comment I made on twitter. Just a random thought generated by my sleep deprived mind at seven in the morning. Then I started thinking (always a bad idea) and I started to realise how true it was.

My reasons why writing an MS are like being in a relationship are many and varied. And like any good relationship, there is a definite cycle to it all. In the beginning:

  • You get to know your characters, plot and settings. It is all fun and fresh and it feels like everything is possible. There is so much new territory to explore.
  • You start to spend hours alone together, just one-on-one. You and your manuscript notes. You pore over every bit of it, until you think you know every nuance.
  • You become addicted. When you aren’t with your MS, you’re thinking about it. You visualise it in your mind, it dominates your conversations, it is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning.

As the relationship progresses:

  • You start to realise that there is a hidden underside to your MS. The characters hadn’t revealed themselves fully. A plot twist deceived you by making you think it would work. Suddenly the setting that seemed so right is just wrong.
  • You begin to argue with your MS. Things don’t just naturally flow into place. Suddenly every decisions leads to three other decisions unravelling.
  • You still spend every moment you can thinking about your MS, but now the thoughts are frequently harried as you wonder how to make it work.

If the relationship is working:

  • Finally, you come to an agreement with your MS, it may not be your perfect vision that you began with, but you see the light at the end and you move forward.
  • All the hours and tears and tantrums start to feel worth it. You eagerly spend more time smoothing over the rough edges and healing the wounds that opened up.
  • You go through a period of rediscovery where you begin to understand what the MS actually is, not what you thought it should be.

If the relationship has failed:

  • You start finding yourself working on other projects – only an hour or two at first, and then you make excuses to spend more and more time away.
  • You want it to change – make it change – and then find the changes unsatisfying. The MS begins to feel resentful and you begin to tire of its tantrums and difficulties.
  • You find yourself rehearsing the ‘it’s not me, it’s you speech’, and give yourself reasons to dump the entire project because it is looking more and more like it is over.
  • Ultimately, you will either begin the whole thing over, or tear it apart and save what characters and lines you can. The rest will end up on a shelf or in a folder, waiting for you to realise how good it could have been.

And here’s the link if you haven’t yet checked out the blurb or excerpt for Death’s Daughter.

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7 Comments

  1. Alex Willging said,

    It’s eerie how well this describes my relationship with all those manuscripts I’ve gone through over the years. Well said!

  2. Smander said,

    ahh sigh. I think I’m at the arguing stage!

  3. Smander said,

    Oh and have a great holiday!

  4. laurelrainsnow said,

    This is beginning to sound just like my relationship with my current WIP. I’m thinking that it’s a relationship that’s salvageable, but time will tell!

  5. AlexJ said,

    I definitely see the similarities!

  6. Carol J. Garvin said,

    This is a great evaluation of the writing process, Cassandra. I think I’m at the rediscovery stage of one of my mss… during major revisions it’s becoming something much better than I originally envisioned. Gotta like that!

  7. Casey Lybrand said,

    Okay, I giggled at this bit:

    “You start finding yourself working on other projects”

    Great post, Cassandra! I never thought about MSs and relationships that way, but I can see the parallels.

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