Monday, January 17, 2011

A Shared Experience

I came across a quote about writing by Winston Churchill. He said, "Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant." Immediately I agreed, "Yes! That is how I felt, too! Having an adventure as my relationship with the book I work on changes from time to time, from being simply delightful like a child playing with a new toy to getting more intimate and more serious." I know Churchill was talking about writing nonfiction, and I was thinking of fiction. Despite two different genres, he and I shared the writing process.

When I got an inspiration for my novel, I toyed with the idea and was delighted and started writing a book of fiction--my adventure--and of course doing it with amusement. When I finished several rewrites, and the novel began to take shape, I fell in love with it--the stage of its becoming a mistress, the way Churchill put it. Now that I'm recovering from my serious illness but still lack stamina to handle a long work that demands lots of my attention and energy, I reluctantly stall my beloved project and work on a couple of small pieces of writing that I can manage at the moment. My novel, although out of my sight, is absolutely not out of my mind. Just the opposite. I think of it every so often and jot down all the ideas that flash across my head. And, like a man who momentarily being out of touch with his mistress, I miss the writing of my novel, which I plan on revising later this year when I am 100% back.

When I rework on my beloved project, I think my writing adventure will reach the final two stages: my novel will become a master, and then a tyrant. After living in Communist rule in South Vietnam for ten years, I know tyranny, and I know I can handle the figurative tyrant.

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