Thursday, June 14, 2012

Minding the Gap

There is this gap between our expectations and reality. Sometimes it is just a crack in the sidewalk, other times, the grand canyon. I know that I need to mourn the gap. Mourn the difference between how I want things (in writing) to be, and how they are.

There is a Quote by Neil Gaiman. 

If you have had a Serious Writing Conversation with me, I have probably attempted to tell you about it. Neil says: 

Well, you never achieve everything you wanted to. It's the simple act of writing. You begin with a platonic ideal that is a shivering tower carved out of pure diamond, that is this pure thing that stands there unfouled by gravity and the weather. And then, the thing that you build is this thing that you have to build out of whatever is at hand and you use empty sushi boxes and chairs and get friends to hold it up and try to make it look like it's standing. And at the end of it, people look at it and they say, "It's amazing." And you say, "Yes, but if only I could have done the thing that is in my head."

I am acutely aware of how awesome my writing and ideas are--in my head. The fact that there is a huge discrepancy between how they are inside, rolling about my head, and how they are outside, in black and white, causes me some angst. 

Some very intelligent writers recently have been telling me that it is okay to feel this way. 

But this gap is painful.

And sometimes it is hard to get over.

Sometimes the gap is wide because our skill hasn't caught up with our potential.

Sometimes the gap is wide because we imagine the universe.

Sometimes the gap is wide because we want to hurry up and be done.

No matter why the gap is there, we must mind it. 

And that is hard.


  1. Yup. I think I fell into that gap and twisted my ankle, but I'm trying to crawl back out. :-)

  2. Yes, I can relate to that gap too. I guess we just have to plod on through it. Hopefully practice narrows the gap.

  3. I've seen that post as a video. Very inspiring and realistic take on the writing process. All we can do is keep writing and sometimes we're harder on ourselves than we need to be and sometimes we need to be harder!

  4. ugh, so true! heartbreaking and true!

    to think, all this time i just thought it was lack of my own talent!

    i saw kate dicamillo speak last weekend, and she said something to the same effect. she said - you're never going to write the book that's in your head.

    my pal ghenet did a much more eloquent job summarizing it in this post:

  5. Anna--LOL. I didn't even think about the whole falling in part. :) Glad you are climbing out.

    Natalie--I think you hit the nail on the head. Writing writing writing is just what we need to do.

    Laura--I agree. I said as much to someone the other day--I need to simultaneously give myself a break, and also not let myself off the hook. I'm glad that resonates with others as well. It's hard to strike that balance.

    Gina--That must have been an inspiring talk. I love her books! I'll check out the link--thanks for leaving it here!

  6. The amazing thing about art is that even after all you do to write the book that is in your head, someone else reads it, and it becomes another thing entirely in their head.

  7. Nice to meet you--I like your gap post. I am a Neil Gaiman quote fan also.
    Looking forward to meeting you on Tuesday!

  8. Maria--I love your comment. The idea that the book lives on in someone else's head also helps me with the discrepancy between how much time it takes to write a book vs. how much time it takes to read it. :)

    Kristen--looking forward to the gathering! Should be fun. :)

  9. I like to hear - and look for - what's working and what's not working.

    U rock. I just need to say that.