I finished a story yesterday. One week, about 30 handwritten pages and an ending that slipped neatly into the title I had scribbled at the top of the first page. It wasn’t a hard story to write. I knew what I was doing from the very beginning. I knew where it ended from the very beginning. I added a bit of an epilogue. It felt necessary, and it’s less grim than leaving it at the violent death of one of the main characters (a noble sacrifice, actually; shed no tears for him, he knew damn well what he was getting into). I’m actually really happy with a majority of the story as it stands. It’ll need a decent cleaning up once I start the first (typed) draft, but that’s fine. I turned off the internal editor for this one and just wrote.
And it felt good. It felt damn good.
I don’t know which I enjoyed more — the writing of the thing or the finishing of it. Finishing stories has long been an issue for me, even once I was able to get into the habit of following through with my ideas. I get frustrated, bored or distracted and leave things to languish. Most of the work that gets abandoned gets abandoned for a reason. Something about those stories just plain doesn’t work. I have a novel I’ve been working on for many years now. Haven’t touched it in three years now at least because something got in my way. Something about where I had taken the story wasn’t working, and as it stands, I haven’t figured out quite how to get around it. I think the answer is just to start writing it again. Because when that one was working, it felt good. It’ll get finished at some point. It’s a patient story, and it’s in my head at least once a week, if not more.
I don’t think it’s like a drug, the drive to write, the satisfaction I get from a story well-told. I wouldn’t call it a high. It’s not ecstasy or elation or invincibility or the feeling that I am the lizard king and I can do anything. Not at all. It’s just contentment. I love telling these stories, and when they work, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
I don’t, by my nature, take satisfaction for a job well done in my life outside of writing. Not at home, not at work. I don’t expect or receive accolades for any of it. I do what’s expected of me, maybe more, sometimes I do it well, but it doesn’t make me feel anything in particular. I do those things because I have to, and it doesn’t matter if I do a good job.
Writing on the other hand, I do because I love. When I do what I love well, that’s satisfaction. When I do it poorly, that’s cause for a moment or two of despair and self-loathing. Unlike life and work, writing loves me back. I get a story that’ll entertain others if I care to share. I get characters I care about, who, in some cases, give me more stories to tell. It’s nice to feel good about things I do because mostly I don’t.
Today, though, I’m satisfied.