It has been a peculiar second half of the year with various things happening to thwart my burning desire to catch up and meet self- imposed deadlines on myself. Alas LIFE has different plans for me, and I am forced to bow my head (just an slight incline you understand:) before Life’s dictates.
One of the outcomes of this enforced delay is that I have spent more time watching television. I don’t on the whole find much to watch and if I have a spare few hours I prefer to curl (manner of speech these days) with a good or indifferent book (prefer the first of course). However, I have watched some very interesting programs, hidden gems I would probably missed in the normal way. One of which was an interview with Donna Tart.
I don’t know if any/all/ of you are readers of Donna Tart, she is one of my favorites, despite the scarcity of her work. I read The Secret History in 1992 and The Little Friend in 2002 – a gap of a decade – what?? Didn’t she realize I had been waiting impatiently to read another of hers:) now I hear her third has arrived, after another decade, The Goldfinch. Ten years each in the writing. When I saw the interview was on I couldn’t wait – ‘no interruptions’ I declared, as I settled down
So why am choosing this spot to witter on about an author who only has three books to her name? Why, because I and, I suspect many others of us, forget sometimes that it is not the speed with which we create our minor masterpieces; and they are, they are, let no one dissuade you, no not the speed but the quality of what we deliver.
Some authors do manage one, two or maybe three a year, others take ten, twenty years to write one. Watching Donna Tart explain the details of her planning , research and writing relaxed my frantic
‘I’m late, I’m late’ White Rabbit moments. Not that I wish to wait a decade between books – at my age that is a luxury I don’t possess, but I do want The Children’s Tale to be a good read and if I spend too much time agonizing on how slow the writing of it is, I am not letting be a good read.
I personally like word count meters , like to measure how far I have progressed in a given day/week/month. However, those word count meters mean little if I just churn out words.
Self imposed deadlines helped ensure I began this writing life, however they make less sense when I have the habits and the confidence. All they do is add pressure and stress unnecessarily.
I have also noticed that this extra time needed has produced more interesting layers to the story, better characterization. There is time for research, time to re-arrange and develop the tale.
It doesn’t matter if the story takes time to be created, some creations take time. It is as simple as that. Humans, being human, just love to fret and we are so good at it.
A short while with Donna Tart helped to remind me that not knocking the WIP out in a year, and probably not in two years, is not the end of my world, the work is slowly but surely unfurling itself and one day (not even thinking of a date at moment:) it will emerge – I hope as perfect as a butterfly.
So I am saying that time is, can be, as good as speed. Creating, from scratch, a new tale, new characters, new plots is to create a minor masterpiece, If we are lucky our offerings may become great masterpieces or even works of pure genius but I am content (at the moment:) with minor.
And masterpieces of any size or magnitude require the amount of time they require. So why tie ourselves into knots? Relax and enjoy the creation:)