My daughter sculpts with clay. She takes a blob of nothingness and shapes it into a pair of aged hands, or a small bird wing, or some other powerful symbol that means something to her. I am always amazed at how she creates something from nothing. The process looks painful. Much like writing a novel. I asked her once if she is happy when the object has taken shape as she has imagined and she is “done.” She told me “not really” because when the process is over she has to let the piece go.
Letting the piece go…
I’d never really thought of my own work this way. As a matter of fact when I first began writing, I luxuriated in the process and then somewhere along the way my focus shifted to product. Don’t get me wrong—I wanted that product to be the best I could make it, but I somehow lost the joy of the writing process.
Our books are journeys untold. Our readers don’t see the countless nights of indecision, the tears, and frustration over each detail, the sloppy (very sloppy) versions, or even the YES moments. We live in a society of “what becomes is what counts.”I agree.
Yes, the final product matters. It is what we share with the world, our readers. But the process, the experience of creating is ours. It is what feeds our souls. It is in the fear, the indecision, the painstaking choices that we evolve as artists. Yes, creating a book is a feat of engineering, but we can have both process and product. We can honor all aspects of the journey and try to celebrate each step, each stroke of the pen, each word.
Yes, what becomes counts. But what is counts too.