It sounded better in my head: the reality of writing

It sounded better in my head: the gap between reality and perfection when writing fictionOn Saturday, Mr12 and I went to the Blue Mountains with his friend Mr13 and Mr13’s mum. It’s a six-hour round trip, which meant the four of us spent a lot of time together in a small car. I don’t know if you’ve ever spent six hours in a small car with two tween boys, but it’s an educational experience if you tune in and listen…

On the way home, Mr12 told us a convoluted anecdote which built and built, until we were all waiting, with bated breath, for the punchline. When it arrived, delivered with much gusto, there was dead silence, before Mr13 asked, in that blunt way that only boys can, “Seriously? Is that it? That’s where you’re going to end that?”

Mr12 thought about that, then chuckled. “It sounded much better in my head,” he said, at which point we all laughed raucously.

It reminded me, however, of one of the biggest challenges of being a writer – that gap between the idea that you have and the reality of how that idea comes out on the page.

I’ve spent the last week wrangling words as I work through the structural edit of the first book in my new series. I’m trying to tweak them – wrestle them – into being the book that I know that they can be.

The book in my head is perfect. It is bright and shiny and ringing with inspiration and brilliance.

My publisher tells me that the book on my computer is fantastic, and the changes we are making will make it even better. But for me it will never, ever meet that bright, shiny brilliance of my initial inspiration, simply because it can’t. To do so, it would need to be perfect, and I’m pretty sure that no-one has ever written a perfect book. Ask any writer. There’s always something they’d change.

So what I’m trying to do, what I think every writer tries to do, is to close the gap as much as possible between what it sounds like in my head and what it looks like on the page. Trying to get it as close to perfection as I can.

And then letting go.

Having paid particular attention to that punchline…