The things I write are almost never what I imagined them to be.
Part of this is because ideas aren’t fully formed, and they change when you get them down. They have to, if they want to survive. And another part is that, in the process of translating from idea to reality, something gets lost. That’s the nature of translation.
But the biggest reason that the stories I think of and the ones I make are so different is simply that I’m not good enough yet.
I’ve always likened my writing process to listening to a song on the radio with bad reception. You like the song, hell, you love the song. And you start to sing along. But because of the bad reception, your version of the song is not the original. It’s not what you thought it would be. In the words of Tenacious D, “This is not the greatest song in the world. This is just a tribute.”
My skill is that imperfect radio. It’s doing its best, but it just can’t get everything. Not yet, anyway.
Writing for me is the always-imperfect process of trying to capture something that’s beyond my scope. The ideas I get are perfect, bright and shiny. But taking them into the real world always involves a certain amount of…compromise.
I don’t like that I have to make that compromise. And, someday, if my skills improve enough, maybe I won’t have to. Maybe I’ll hear the words to that song clearly and finally realize that it’s not “Also evil, also into cats”.* And that’s why I keep plugging away at it: refining my skills until the time comes that I will be able to translate perfectly. Or at least better than I am now.
So I keep working. And always, every time I start a new project, there’s the hope that this is the one. The translation from idea to reality won’t be so traumatic, and it will look something like I originally imagined. I know it’ll happen, on one of the stories.
Maybe, just maybe, it’ll be this one.
*Or “There’s a bathroom on the right”, if you prefer.