No, no, not the sort of creep you might find lurking on dark corners, although many stories will have them, too – this is a good sort of creep – this is the slow realization that comes when you can actually see improvement in your writing and all your efforts are finally amounting to something.
It happens in increments.
When I was little and wanted to be a writer, I though I just had to take the time to do the work. That was true, but it was also a very simple-minded concept (as I was under ten years old at the time, that can be forgiven).
The very first thing I learned was that writing a story is not as easy as it seems. Somehow the words didn’t convey what I wanted them to convey. They stubbornly continued to elude my aims no matter how I shuffled them over the years. They got better, but still missed the mark. Again and again.
Over the decades, I came to learn that I could see my writing the clearest if I put it aside and came back to it once I’d forgotten what I’d written. I gradually came to understand that the clarity that came was due to seeing what was on the page without linking it straight into the fiery imagination of my soul.
When you write, you do it with every ounce of your being. Your imagination is in full swing, your passion is blazing away, you’re seeing the scenes, hearing the words, you know the tone and the moves – all of them.
When you put that on paper, you capture what you can – but if you read it back while still abuzz from your inner processing, you will again see and hear and know everything there is to know, everything that should be there. What that might mean is that what you see on the page is not what your readers will see. You’ve got full screen, full-color, full-sound, full-everything, while your readers only have the words you give them.
So you put it aside, totally in love with it, then pick it up a month later expecting the same thrills and excitement. And that’s when it all falls horribly flat. You’ll look at your work and you’ll think, That’s not how it was, that’s not what I saw, that’s not what I’m trying to say.
That was exactly how my development went. Year in, year out. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t quit. I’m GLAD I didn’t quit, but I’m surprised, too.
After some time, though, it begins to happen. You come back to a piece when your brain isn’t engaged with it anymore, and you find – hey, this bit is good! Something else might be poor and another bit might be really lousy, but there’s a bit there that shines.
It was probably those times that kept me going. I’d think, Now if I can just get the rest of it like that. Then I’d get back into it and try and make it so.
No one tells you at the beginning how long it’s going to take. No one can. But, if you’re a writer, you already know it didn’t happen overnight. You’ve probably already put years into it and already see the growth that is happening for you – whether it’s creeping in or coming swiftly like an arrow.
If you see that happening in your writing, you are already well on your way. You’re already halfway up that ladder of success.
The biggest, heaviest weight on my shoulders as I went through those years came from the questions we all ask ourselves. “When? When will it happen?” I feared I was wasting my life when all the time, those increments of improvement were creeping along, my work was getting better, sharper, more advanced. I didn’t know. It just felt like I was waiting.
I thought I was waiting “to make it”, but all the while I was waiting for the Creep Factor.
Cheers everyone. Creeping or Flying, keep at it!