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Well, just a few minutes ago, I completed a short story for the first… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

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[Aug. 19th, 2003|11:39 pm]
John
Well, just a few minutes ago, I completed a short story for the first time and I don't know how many months (for that matter, how many years!).

It's been very strange, because working on this story has, in a way, scared the blazes out of me. I really don't understand why, but I think that it was a little bit more than the standard "blank page syndrome".

I guess part of it is that in order to write well, a person has to open up their sensitivity to emotions, and, well, my sensitivities can already be pretty high. But I think that part of it was also a bit of fear about opening up the well, because once you've opened the well, you've got to draw water from it. Okay, that's probably ridiculous and trite, but that is kind of how it felt. Now that I have written a story (and, in fact, an important story), I don't really have a reason not to start writing again.

It's not just the sensitivities; there are a lot of problems with writing. It's a frustrating, and sometimes frightening, way to pass the time. But I think that what's really bothering me this time is that I'm afraid it that maybe I'm not yet ready to write the way I want to.

A lot of the ideas that I have that I want to write about are things that I've had running around in my head for several years, but that I haven't felt able to express in the way they deserve to be expressed. Now, I'm starting to think that I have the ability to express them, and I guess that I'm afraid of being wrong.

Sometimes, trying to rewrite a story is kind of like trying to re-birth a child. It's already there, it's already done, and while you might find something similar, you won't ever see the same thing again.

Of course, on the other hand, if you use birth control before a child is conceived, and there will be a child... and if you don't get an idea down when it's ready to be fertilized and grown, you could conceivably lose the idea forever.

It's not that the idea would be gone; it's just that it wouldn't have the energy that an idea and needs to have in order to be written about. This might be something that you need to be a writer to understand, or, perhaps you need to be a certain kind of writer to understand.

Sigh. Anyway, if anyone would like to read a copy of this story (it's kind of a weird one, and it's clearly the beginning of something larger) that me know, either here, or in private e-mail, and I will likely send you a copy. I hope that this is possibly salable, so please remember that if you get a copy of it, you can't distribute it in any way that could be considered "publishing". That includes putting it on the Web, or anything else that would that be viewed publicly.

Anyway, now it's time for a nightcap, and then some sleep... tomorrow I can see about editing this, and deciding if it's ready to be sent to whichever buyer I can find in The Writer's Market.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2003-08-19 11:51 pm (UTC)
I think that what's really bothering me this time is that I'm afraid it that maybe I'm not yet ready to write the way I want to.

And of course the only way to get ready is to write, and write, and write. Think of it as another kind of muscle that needs constant exercise to get strong and stay that way.

(Yeah, I know, I said I was going to bed ...)
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2003-08-20 12:07 am (UTC)
Herm. No, the problem isn't a matter of needing to strengthen the writing muscles... it's a problem of "once I write this, and once I drain the energy of the idea, pulsing inside my head and get it on paper (or into computer bits) will it be *right*? Or will it be wrong, and lost?

Remember when I got an interview for a math teaching job? I learned that I'm not yet ready to teach mathematics. I think I will be, someday, and not too far in the future, but I'm definitely not there yet.

I think I *am* hitting the critical point, though, where I won't get more ready by waiting.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2003-08-20 07:20 am (UTC)
*nod* A crisis of confidence, of sorts? I still think "keep writing" is the solution. Stretching my metaphor further, an athlete can develop strong muscles, but until he's used them enough to trust that they're going to dependably do what he wants, he'll often continue to be bothered by the niggling doubt: What if I'm not good enough? What if I go out there and blow it.

I don't think those fears every completely go away, because they're fears, after all, and not necessarily subject to rational thought. But I do believe that the more you write, the more writing will become second nature, and less ... fraught with the weight of "what if it's not *right*?" It's not that you won't care - you'll always care, that's the kind of writer (and person) you are. But you may be able to finish something, look at it somewhat objectively and say, "there, that's done. It may not be perfect, but it's pretty damned close. Now, on to that next idea."
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[User Picture]From: iamjw
2003-08-20 05:45 am (UTC)
I'd love to read it.

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From: ex_serenejo
2003-08-20 07:42 am (UTC)
Unsolicited advice that probably sounds more patronizing than I intend:

What you're feeling is something nearly all writers feel -- a combination of all kinds of things that involve everything from fear to insecurity to elation to a sense of what I can only call scarcity.

It's not that the idea would be gone; it's just that it wouldn't have the energy that an idea and needs to have in order to be written about.

*ExACTly*. But other energy will be there. Energy that's grown and matured along with your ideas. Energy that's morphed into something that isn't that elusive thing you've lost, true, but it has value of its own that doesn't exactly replace the thing that never came to fruit, but it is a step along that thing's evolution, I think.

If I were the kind to turn everything into a metaphor involving polyamory, here's where I'd do it. :-)

Your ideas are not scarce. Your writing will not dry up. We don't write because it's pleasant to do so, or because we're guaranteed it will be good -- we write because we have to.

I decided long ago to stop writing from a place of scarcity, and it really helped me. I don't know that it will help you, but I hope that you feel more at peace about this as time goes by.

I would love to read the story, so long as it's understood that it takes me sometimes a very long time to muster the energy for feedback-giving (right, stonebender? right, porcinea?)
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[User Picture]From: eleccham
2003-08-20 04:12 pm (UTC)
Having done very little writing, but still familiar with the general process...

At least for me, if an idea for a song comes into my head, and I don't get at least enough of it written to be able to pick it back up... it is unquestionably gone. I've had that happen, and it's always terrible: what if that one had been really good?
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[User Picture]From: janetmiles
2003-08-26 07:13 pm (UTC)
Coming a bit late to the party, but if the story is still available to be read, I'd be pleased to read it. Also with the caveat that a lot of energy is going into caring for Dad, so my ability to respond [quickly] is not guaranteed.
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