I recently saw something about the Myth of Sisyphus, a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. Keep reading - I promise this isn't a pretentious blog! Sisyphus was a Greek character who was condemned to push a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again, forever. Albert Camus discussed what Sisyphus' thoughts were when marching down the mountain, to start again in his futile task - and this is where I think there's a parallel in writing and the greatest myth of all: that, if you're a 'good' writer, writing should be easy.
Camus says: "It is during that return, that pause...(I see) a face that toils so close to stones (it) is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment."
When writing, it can often feel amazing. Like running down the mountain. Free. But often too there are times when it feels like carrying a boulder uphill. It's hard. Just when you think: 'I'm done! This draft is the final draft! I'm at the top of the mountain and can finally put down that boulder!' your beta reader or your agent or your editor sends it rolling back down to the bottom of the mountain and tells you to go right back and get it. You are not finished.
It's now, as Camus says, in 'that pause,' where we writers need to show our true grit, our greatest amount of belief and willpower: to persevere, to chose to go back, knowing the pain it took to get us to the top of the mountain but to start again anyway. It's what makes a piece of interesting writing become piece of promising rewriting. It's what grows a good manuscript into a fantastic published novel. 'That pause' is the difference between writing and being a writer. And it hurts. And it's worth it.
Thank goodness that, unlike poor Sisyphus, our torment doesn't have to be a lonely course. Sharing the pain is the best gift any writer can give themselves. It was one of the top tips Robin Stevens (author of Murder Most Unladylike) and Non Pratt (author of Trouble) gave at the SCBWI workshop I went to yesterday: make friends with other writers. SCBWI writers, like the writers at Golden Egg, are at various points on the mountain but they are all cheering each other on. 'Cos children's writers are a really friendly bunch.
Now, back to that boulder...