I hate writing; I love having written. That’s one of Dorothy Parker’s most-famous quotes. I go back and forth on whether or not her statement is true for me. On the True side, I hate writing first drafts. My worst nightmare would be to die immediately after I finished my first draft. What could be worse than dying after finally completing such a torturous, miserable journey? Furthermore, what if a kind-hearted fellow writer were to read my draft in an effort to publish it posthumously? She’ll think: Leslie must have eaten poisonous kumquats intentionally! I can’t even imagine how devastated I’d be to discover my writing had deteriorated this badly!
On the False side, I love revising my books. The process of improving my writing is indescribably rewarding to me. I will happily edit my manuscripts for twelve hours a day for a solid month. (I sit at my desk somewhere between two and six hours a day when I’m creating the first draft, but much of that time goes into Facebook, email, and fantasizing about such things as deadly kumquats.) Clearly, my answer to the first half is: Oh HELL, yes! And: No freaking way!
Do I love having written? I can’t decide. On the True side, I was deliriously happy when my first book was published. I was a wannabe author for twenty years. That’s a long time to work toward a dream. I’ve now been published for twenty years; my agent is currently reading my 26th novel. That is a long time to stay afloat in this business; it’s a big accomplishment. I’m proud of myself. On the False side, I no longer get caught up in the excitement of publication. Frankly, after writing 26 books and counting, I wish I was a better writer than I am. The book on the page (or on the eReader) never lives up to the book in my head. Every single time I finish a book, part of me says: I can do better next time! Seeming of its own volition, my mind starts spinning stories. Suddenly, there I am: starting a first draft.
Maybe the answer to my question is that what I most love about writing is not the journey (the writing of the book) or the destination of having written. Maybe I am hopelessly in love with the hope of having written the perfect book someday. I so dearly hope so!