For some reason, it is a mystery and it fascinates me that it is easier for me to write about writing than it is to sit down in front of my imagination, grab it by the shoulders, confront it with a story and write the result of that confrontation. Then again, maybe I just solved my own mystery. I’ve reduced the creative process of starting a story into a hostile encounter. Who wouldn’t want to avoid that?
The thing is, I have the story. I have my locations, I have some lightly drawn incidental characters. I have a strong main character. I know what voice I’ll be writing in. I even have the beginning of the first chapter. In a nutshell, my next book is ready to come out. The only thing preventing that from happening, apparently, is ME.
See, I know that once I start the book, continuing with it to its completion will be easy. And I mean easy in the context of my world of writing. It’s not the writer’s block that gets me. It’s the imagination-induced gremlin that prevents me from starting at all. Once I start writing and I’m into telling the story, nothing can drag me away from it. Not even my passion for locating and focusing on something shiny.
I do have some excuses. First and foremost is this profound gift to be distracted by even the most innocuous event, object or idea. Truly, I excel at it. Second (and frankly, as an excuse, this is gold – it would even hold up in court), I just had surgery on my shoulder. “Just” meaning five weeks ago, but in the land of rotator cuff surgery five weeks is a blip on the recovery calendar. It’s painful, I’m on drugs, and I’m stuck wallowing in the misery of a semi lengthy list of things that I cannot do.
The worst excuse is the feeling that perhaps deep down, it’s the thought that it’s a useless pursuit. I don’t mean life, I mean writing. And I feel that way before every story at its beginning. I have to go through that “what’s the point?” phase. Who cares? If you can convince yourself that something is pointless, it’s very easy to blow it off and allow yourself to be distracted. At least it is for me.
Fortunately, my distractions usually have some creative value, so if I’m not starting on chapter two, at least I’m blogging about not starting on chapter two. And at least I’m writing rather than curling up in a chair and watching one of the fifteen different television shows featuring Gordon Ramsay – the fucking talented wanker.
(I have a soft spot for Chef Ramsay… I’m not sure what that says about me. I like to cook, and he’s cute. The rest is just gravy.)
The bottom line, though, is to keep writing, no matter what it is. My favorite thing in college was writing essays. I once wrote an awesome essay about technology, ecology and Roomba, the Intelligent FloorVac (Clever Bot or Minion of Evil?). I somehow convinced my professor that Roomba was so close to sliced bread that she bought one. A? Yes.
I wish I had the answer as to why I’m writing this instead of my book. I might chalk it up to simple laziness, but if that were the case, wouldn’t I be watching Supernanny or Kitchen Nightmares instead of blogging?
As I finish up here, I realize I am getting better. I’m up and the tube hasn’t been on all day. Maybe I’ll open up that Word doc and see what I can see. To borrow a Stephen King metaphor – perhaps if the hole’s big enough, maybe I’ll jump in.