Eric. He wants to know:
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a writer? What is your greatest reward from writing?
I think the most challenging aspect of being a writer may actually be answering this question! Kidding. Promise. Really though, for me the toughest aspect of being a writer is the collaborative nature of the biz. One of the ways I get through writing a draft is by telling myself that it's the best story every written by anyone on the planet. Sitting down day after day, week after week, month after month to work on a book takes heavy amounts of self-delusion. I mean, who'd sit down to work on a book for that long if they thought no one would like it? So to finish, I have to delude myself. I have to believe that I'm writing the best, most important book EV-ER.
The challenge comes when my crit partners, friends, agent, editors read it and shatter my delusion. Sure, it's got promise but here's how it could be better... Then my job is to take all those different viewpoints, all the suggestions, and somehow figure out how to make them work with my vision of the book. Sometimes it doesn't always work. Sometimes it's frustrating. But that's the nature of publishing. Books aren't created in vacuums. For example, in Deathday I resisted the idea of making Ollie and Ronnie's relationship more prominent. I eventually grew not only to see the logic of the change but to love the way the relationship deepened Ollie's character development. But it's not always that easy. Sometimes it's a struggle to overcome the delusion that my book is perfect just how it is and take others' advice to make it better.
The greatest reward has to be the people I've met. There are people whom I've never met in real life, that champion my work and talk about it and sometimes I'm so embarrassed when they say things that I don't know what to do. There are people on the Internet that I've never even spoken to who read my book and talk about it and they get it...they get exactly what I was trying to say. That slays me every time. But the absolute most rewarding thing is when I get emails from people telling me how much the book meant to them. I got this one email that left me smiling for a week. I always said that I didn't want to be famous, I didn't need to sell a million copies (though my agent and editors would be really happy if I did), I just wanted something I wrote to speak to one person. Seriously, that's the best reward.
Right! So you're a dolt if you haven't already read the ever-amazing Michelle's greatest challenges and rewards, and an even bigger dolt if you don't head over to Abby and her amazing technicolor blog tomorrow.