I’m reading a book about reasons writers procrastinate and do anything (and I do mean anything) to avoid the actual act of writing. So far so good. I haven’t written a word of my novel in about 2 weeks…no, make that 4 weeks…damn, it’s worse than I thought.
While I have been distracted mightily by watching the new kitten sleep, getting the kids ready for school, by screaming and falling to my knees every time I see my shaggy hair and flabby body in a mirror, etc. I have still managed to post entries in this blog so what’s keeping me from opening Word and clicking on my novel (or any of the 25 half-written pieces languishing on my hard drive)?
Some obvious reasons come to mind: fear, laziness, lack of drive, lack of talent, did I mention fear? And yet, today, I forced myself to open the file entitled, “Longest Thing Wee Banshee Has Ever Written,” and scroll through its 178 pages, unfinished. When I say “forced” I am not exaggerating – I would rather have walked down to my dentist’s office naked in the cold rain and asked for a root canal without anesthesia, please, than open that file. I sat, fingers poised over the keyboard for a good five minutes before opening it. This makes me sad because, at one point not so long ago, I was quite fond of the story. What went wrong? Is anything wrong? Is this normal? I have no idea.
I don’t know if other writers are like this but I am pretty good at talking myself out of a story. That is why, until very recently, I’d never written anything longer than 25 pages. Over that number and I know with absolute certainty I am going to fall over the edge of the world. Once I get to a certain point where I really have to think and employ devices,reach deep and get creative, I back off. I stretch, yawn, and kill everybody off and type “The End.”
One might think that sailing just up to the edge of the world and not going over the horizon is hard but I’ve never found it so. Going the distance seems much harder (I can hear certain people who might be reading this muttering, “Lazy cow” at this point). I really have no defense. I’m the same way when I’m working out – I never push myself too hard. I back off when things get tough. If I could employ the perseverence that I demonstrate with a chocolate sundae to my writing, I’d be way better off.
So one might be tempted to think that the Novel has pushed me. It’s hard to say. Has it pushed me to write well? Ummm…I think not. While perusing the pages today, I noticed a lot of poop. Too much detail here, not enough there. Static characters who don’t do or say anything terribly interesting for page after page. This is where fear and doubt come barrelling at me. If I keep going, if I devote more of life’s moments that I can never get back to Project Poop, and it turns out to be total crap – what then?
Still forcing myself, I read on and found a couple of bright moments in the story. In between paragraphs comprised mostly of shit, there lay entire pages that may have merit. This revelation gave me hope and pushed the fear away, a tiny bit. I started tinkering, cutting, pruning, and flushing. I sprayed the whole thing with Lysol and felt much better.
I want to keep going on this story. It’s not going to win a Pulitzer nor is it going to change lives. I might be lazy but I’m not stupid. I still like the lead character. I like how life threw her a curve ball and she just opened a bottle of whatever was handy and got on with it. She tries to find the humour in every messed up situation. Sure she lacks depth in places and but I can be a boring shallow creature at times too. Her story is worth completing. Maybe I should open a bottle of something and just get on with it.
Now, if I can only start working out again…the horizon lurks off in the distance and I’m still scared.