The Struggles of Writing, Plus a Bridge Metaphor

It’s an odd thing, how confidence in your writing comes and goes. Some days you’re on fire, your mind thinking up the scene so fast that your fingers can barely write it down fast enough. Some days you just look at your writing and think what a load of trash. Usually, though, if you’re a person who prefers to write every day (as I am), you’re somewhere in between.

I think that authors are pretty brave souls. (Yes, I might be a bit biased, but still.) They dedicate years towards writing a book that may or may not even end up published. They are sinking time and energy into something that might not even be loved by the general populace. They know the risks, but they write anyway, because they have faith or because they’re just incapable of not writing…

It’s probably a safe assumption that most writers look up to authors like J. K. Rowling or J. R. R. Tolkien, or others who ended up being a major best-seller despite their struggles. We look at the Harry Potter books, or the Lord of the Rings books, maybe even the A Song of Ice and Fire series as well… and we think as writers I hope my book changes a generation too. In the end, though, there are so many books out there that it takes a lot of talent and hard work to get anywhere near that level of success.

I’m at a point in my writing where I feel as if it’s a decent story, but I worry about whether or not it’s bestseller material. Unfortunately, there’s no secret formula to create a best-seller.

Consider writing like a bridge, one that connects you to your readers (or your readers to you). Especially as a first-time author, you can do all the research you want, and take all the classes you want. You can have a whole slew of information at your disposal, and in the end it’s a good thing to have, because then at least you understand the basics of your craft. But bridges can be fickle things. Some people will pick up your book, and read it, and find that it, as a bridge, isn’t stable enough under their feet, so they turn back and leave the bridge behind. Others simply look at the bridge, and the potential risks of falling, and decide that you as a new author/bridge-maker aren’t trustworthy enough, not yet anyway, to put their lives on the line.

So if your bridge isn’t going to be used, then what’s the point of spending valuable time and resources on building it? The point, of course, is that you hope someday people will trust it enough to realize the bridge can actually be of use.

Now some of you might be thinking “Yeah, Katie, that’s poetic and all, but I’m not really sure that the metaphor holds up.”

Fair enough, but if you think about it, what is a book but a bridge connecting your reader to a world that you created? This is especially true for fantasy authors, but even realistic fiction authors generate their own version of the world when they write their stories. We write sad stories because we like telling them, but also because we see how the world is and we hope that these sad stories will help people realize that things like hatred and cruelty are choices that we make, and that we’re all human, capable of both good and evil. That might be cliche, but cliches can still tell truths.

But I digress.

After sinking roughly two, three years into this one book, I don’t intend to give up on it now. Really, the only thing you can do is to keep adjusting and tweaking the story until it is as good as it’s going to get. For all you authors out there dealing with similar struggles, best of luck.

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