Like Pulling Teeth

I love writing.  If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t keep doing it.  But as you know in your own lives, sometimes love isn’t all fairy sparkles and pixie dust—sometimes it’s something a lot more jagged.

It’s the same way with writing.  People often expect that writing is easy.  Most of us know how to write somewhat competently, we all tell stories, so writing a novel has to be like sunshine and moonbeams.  Especially something as “simple” as a romance novel. You think of a story, and you write it down.  Boom!

Sometimes it is that easy.  There are times when the words flow like water in a stream, chuckling and bubbling until you have to race to keep up with them.  In the editing process, you kneel gracefully to uncover a golden nugget and polish it until it shines, or clip out the excess with silver scissors to let a perfect flower bloom.  You are Snow White singing as you dust the house and tidy it up.

But sometimes writing is like pulling freaking teeth.  Sometimes you have to physically force yourself to continue, you have to compel yourself to pull up the document and work on it, only to get just a few paragraphs or even a few sentences finished.  You have to force yourself to keep going, one yard at a time.  One footstep at a time.  One inch at a time.  Against a gale-force wind.  Up hill.  Through the snow.

The last draft of my latest book was like that.  Every step was almost painful, every decision doubted.  Every section completed was a minor miracle, one more tooth pulled—a painful relief.

Although this book was worse than some, the last drafts are always like this for me, and the resistance against progress is intense.

Those are the times when I doubt my sanity. I’m not writing any great thing here—heck, I’m writing romance, not Shakespeare. It’s not like it matters whether or not I finish.  Why do I keep putting myself through this?

Still, I keep doing it.

What’s even more insane is that at this point in the process, the tooth pulling has become almost a compulsion for me. It must be done. The manuscript must be completed, for good or bad.  I push myself and am pushed to the finish line.

And then, one day, I cross, and the book is done.

Not fully formed yet, but ready to go into other people’s hands for judging and commenting and grooming and copyediting.  Then it will come back to me to be finalized before heading out on its own little voyage.

This thing that did not exist before, does.  This story that was not told before in exactly this way, now is.

It’s nothing special by any means, just a romance novel.  I hope it will be a good romance novel when it’s completely finished, but it’s nothing that will bring about world peace or anything.  I hope people will enjoy it, I hope it will bring them some escape and entertainment and maybe even a thought or two, but it’s not going to change lives.  I really hope it doesn’t suck, although it definitely might.  I’m sure some people will think that it’s trash regardless.  Some days I’m one of those people.

But what matters is, it wasn’t there before, and now it is.

Which is basically, I guess, why I pull those teeth and push myself even when the actual writing part isn’t very much fun.  That’s why I do it when, like now, I’m totally stressed out waiting for feedback.  That’s why I do it when my life is going through some sad times or dark places.

Maybe that’s why we all create things, be they cakes or afghans or gardens or paintings or books.  Something was not there, and now it is.  Something is new.  Who cares about a few teeth?

Beginning It is book 2 in the Welcome to Hardy Falls series.  It follows Believing It (book 0.5) and Handling It (book 1).  If all goes somewhat well (and now I’ve jinxed myself), I’m expecting it to be out sometime in December (that’s 2017, you smart aleck), along with a novella (Hardy Falls book 2.5) I’m working on now.  More info to follow soon!

And I sure hope the tooth pulling gets a little easier the more I do this writing thing.

But it probably won’t.





  1. Maybe it’s more like tearing off fingernails – they grow back so you can do it all over again! Excellent point about the creation of things that didn’t exist before. Some of my best friends are people, or characters, I’ve met in books over the years and they certainly did not exist until the author created them out of nothingness. Thank you for adding new people to our universe!

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @Athena: But with no fingernails, how could I type? 😀 And I’m not sure why that thought gives me more of the willies than no teeth. LOL

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