Surprise, surprise. Seriously. I was not only able to write 5 pages this morning, they were actually fairly decent pages to boot. My normal output at 4 in the morning is about 3 pages, maybe a paragraph or two more, but then those are often laboriously produced, not-so-great pages that make me wince even as I type them. I plow on, of course, because that’s what beginning writers with little faith in themselves do, but it’s definitely a struggle.
Today, however, while I didn’t exactly create Shakespearean prose, I’ll be the first to say that those 5 pages weren’t half bad. God knows if they’ll end up in the final draft, but for now I’m happy and astounded that I was able to produce them at all. It really does help to stay with the novel on a regular basis, preferably daily, because it makes it easier to return to it every morning or night and pick up right where you left off. I’m really beginning to understand the characters a little more than I did when I first started, despite the fact that I had full-blown character sketches. It helps that, for the moment, my main characters are taking up most of the room, with only a few minor characters whom I hadn’t developed beforehand popping in for occasional visits.
I think this book about Ray Bradbury that I’m currently reading before bedtime is helping tremendously. I was intrigued by a small book about writing that I found at Borders the other day, a little volume by Bradbury and a comment he made in an interview about how it took him less than a week to write Fahrenheit 451, one of his most well-known classics. I couldn’t believe that a book so compelling could have been produced in so little time, so I wanted to know more about the man as writer.
What inspired me most about his story was how incredibly self-confident he was about his writing, from the time he was a child all through adulthood. He was a gregarious kid and practically crackled with overflowing energy, and he was able to channel all of that into this unbelievable, unshakable faith in his vocation.
I wish I had that self-confidence, if nothing else then at least in my writing. People have told me for years that I write well, but of course the writer is always the last to believe that. I know I can write decent prose, and I know I can churn out pretty good nonfiction, but when it comes to creative fiction, to stories that vigorously challenge one’s mind and sparks the spirit, well, I’m all about self-doubt.
But what was really brilliant about Bradbury’s story was the fact that he never let the dozens and dozens of rejections deter him from his dream of becoming “the greatest writer who ever lived,” and he kept working on his craft and fine-tuning his voice until he got it write (pun intended). And the rest is, well, you know.
So I guess that’s where the energy came from at 4 this morning, despite the long night at work last night. I look at is as an investment into my writing, even if the novel never sees the light of publication. If not this, then the next one. It’s the most important thing, the writing, and while I sometimes forget that, it’s always good to be reminded.