Writing as Process/Writing as Artifact

Lonfiction asked a question about whether or not you might regret anything you’d written if you knew that nothing you wrote would ever be published going forward. It made me realize that things I have written and things I’m writing are completely different animals for me. It’s really worthwhile to go read the whole thread over there as there are some very interesting conversations going on. Here is my response:

It’s an interesting thought experiment, but one that strips gears in my head, because at some fundamental level writing forward and past writing are unrelated creatures for me.

I write what I’m writing now because I fall in love with the story and fall in love with the writing of it. I do write it with the intent to sell it but that’s only so that I can afford to fall in love with the next story.

Once it’s written, unless I’m doing sequels of some sort, it becomes an artifact to be sold or (sometimes) parked and is no longer really “writing” for me until I engage with it again, either because I’ve fallen in love with some changes to the story, or because someone has bought it and I’m getting paid to revise.

So, going forward, writing is process, looking back, writing is artifact. For me, regretting the artifact would be like regretting a couch…in storage…that costs me nothing to store…and that I never see. Until, that is, someone comes along and offers to buy it if only I’ll reupholster it, or until I think, hey that couch would be so much cooler with some throw pillows. Then it becomes process again.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog Feb 10 2010, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)