Ahh the writing life. I get up in the morning, pour myself some coffee write brilliant prose for awhile and carry on with my day. Not. My writing day goes more like this. I get up and the first thing I see after I’ve poured my coffee is the large blue notebook I write in. It’s actually a sketchbook with paper heavy enough to paint on. It measures 7” x 10” and I’ve become fixated on this particular book to write in, if only I could be that committed to the stories that are in the pages. It lies open, waiting exactly as I left it. I drag myself to my desk in the ‘do I have to?’ way of most third graders and sit down to try and get whatever has gone awry back on the rails. And while I’m corralling my wayward story, using the words ‘and then’ a lot and knowing I’m in a flat spin another idea will pop into my head. “Well,” I think, “that’s the problem. I didn’t want to write that story in the first place, I wanted to write this one.” So I turn to a blank page and it’s as if the other story never existed. I’m lost in the new and improved idea, the one with legs the one that has to be written.
I’m back in the zone. Ideas flow, post-its abound and then somewhere around page 20 or so I start to slow down. The characters are losing their lustre and I begin losing interest and if I’m losing interest, the reader will lose interest. It’s in the bible of writing, Vonnegut ch. 3 vs. 1. And so I start again with the next big thing. It could be a process of elimination I suppose. Maybe I’m just struggling to find my voice. But I know and you probably know too. It’s fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of spending months writing something that is garbage when you could have written something great or at least good and the ultimate fear, the fear of rejection.
When this happens I crawl back into the safe cocoon of poetry. Poetry fills my need to get words on the page, to get feelings out of my head and into the stratusphere. I can use my poems to sketch out ideas or lament my expanding waistline. It is forgiving and welcoming and expedient. It’s entirely possible that my whole problem is a giant case of attention deficit. Hmmm a character who has a severe case of ADD....I should write that down.