The Writing Process

I am currently reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The opening establishes how the writer went off to India to try and finish a book, and it just wasn’t happening – great characters, wonderful story, no spark. He describes the realization as ‘something soul-destroying.’ And then he mails the failed manuscript to a fictional address in Siberia.

All writers: novelists, poets, playwrights, we all know the feeling well. You’ve done the work, you know how to do the work. There’s no disputing that work is or is not being done. You’ve created the characters exactly as they should be created. You have a complex and detailed plot, no one is saying that you haven’t done the work! And yet….. it’s the part of writing you can’t manufacture. You can’t explain it. You can’t bottle it. You know when it’s there and you know when it’s not. The spark.

It’s a horrifying feeling to realize the absence of spark. It is soul-destroying. You try to ignore it, deny it, pin one together from odd socks and leftover buttons and say, ‘See! It’s there! See how pretty it is?’

I have one play that I’ve been working on, off and on, for three years. I love the characters. I love the complicity of the plot. I think it’s something special. And it just won’t gel. It won’t come together. It lacks spark.


I’ve carried this play with me on several trips this summer because I thought, maybe, I’d be inspired. No such luck. The pages are worn. Notes scrawled on every page. Slash marks, visions, wonderful ideas, oh so many ideas. One of these days I’m going to have to gather my notes and mail them to Siberia. Because, really, there’s only so long I can flick my Bic and get nothing….

About the author

Lindsay Price

1 Comment

  • I had to reply to this entry because I sympathize so much with the writer. My theatre teacher thought i would be a great idea for to modernize an older play and i agreed. The oppurtunity was so surprizing and tremendous, I’ve finished the initial work and am doing revisions. My teacher has told he thinks its really good but every time I read all i can see is the previous authors touches. It’s frustrating that i can’t make my own and feel that, although I won’t give, it won’t ever belong to me… Anyway I hope your piece takes off soon don’t give up! The moment you stick in the mailbox is when the inspiration smacks you in the face. Good Luck!