I’m trying to write two blogposts a week now. One about my life, such as it is, and one about something to do with either writing or reading. About books. The last several weeks, that post has mostly been about reading books, rather than writing them.
This one is going to be about writing, mostly because of that. Because I haven’t been. Writing, I mean. I’ve been reading. A lot. And doing a lot of other stuff. But mostly, I’ve been reading and not writing.
Sometimes, when I get stuck in a story, I do better when I stop and think, give myself a little time off to decide what I want to have happen next, or figure out what the characters want / need to do next. That’s why I originally slowed down on this one. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write a particular scene.
But that was weeks ago. (Maybe only two.) And I still don’t know if this scene needs to be written, or if the story will be better off without it. I don’t think I’ve ever been this paralyzed about my writing.
So, in between thinking “I really need to get busy writing,” and making giant bowls of potato salad, and calling parents, and deciding what book to read next, I have thought about why I’m not writing. Part of it is, yes, that I don’t know what to write next. But I’m wondering now, after all this paralysis, if that’s all of it.
Right now, I’m between books, out of contract. There isn’t a book I have to write. There’s no real deadline pressure on me. That’s undoubtedly a factor.
I’m wondering if I’m having a teensy bit of “fear of finishing.” This is a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. It’s hung around, waiting for me to learn how to write for decades. And once I picked it back up and went to work in earnest on it, it’s taken me a couple of years. Not because I’m actually writing it that slowly, but because there’s a lot of stopping and starting. I’ve written two whole books in between the big hiatus. (This one is actually a small hiatus, but it’s a break because I’m not writing anything, not because I’m writing something else.) The book means a lot to me. But when I finish it, I have to send it out into the big mean world.
Yes, my agent has seen a big part of it, and loved it. But will she love the rest of it? Will anyone else? Will the economy wreck its chances? Have I built up the earlier parts of the story to wonderful heights only to smash the ending on a jagged reef of pathetic boredom? Does my ending make any sense? Can I do what I think I want to do, and have people continue to suspend their disbelief? Or can I just run off into the night screaming ARRRGGGGHHHH!! and pulling at my hair?
Yeah, okay. There definitely is some of that.
So. Now that I have defined it, what am I going to do about it?
That, my dears, is what defines the difference between the published (or even multi-published) author and the one who is still dreaming of making that first sale. (Or second, or tenth.) When things stall out, when the writing stops happening, you do something about it.
Fortunately, I don’t have a deadline. I like deadlines. They help me get the work done, keep me at it when I’d really rather be reading the new Duran release. But right now, I need that time, so I can spend a day taking my dad to the doctor and not sweat it.
BUT, I really do need to get back to work. So I have a plan.
I’m going to think about the story. Try out the scene in my head. I’m going to use my Tarot cards. Draw one, or two, or five, and see if my intuition can break out of the straitjacket my worries have put it in. And then, when I get back from the parents’, I’m just going to have to plant my fanny in that desk chair and get to work. Because when it comes right down to it, I just flat have to get words on the page.
And maybe I’ll clean off my desk between now and then…