November 15th, 2008

Unblockable

Something I’ve said in the past that, taken out of context, could make me seem obnoxious, is that I never get writers’ block. I get too tired to write, or too busy, or too lazy, but if I am actually able to get myself into the chair to write, I can write. The concept of the intimidating blank page/screen is foreign to me.

Obnoxious, right? Well, obviously, there’s more.

Anyone who wants their words in the wider world, ie., wants other people to bother reading them, had better be a perfectionist. To publish, or try to publish, stories that I feel to be sorta “meh” is a nightmare-ish construction to me–oh, the shame of letting strangers read a badly turned line.

I, however, am a perfectionist over the long term. As I type away, I am not exactly thrilled, but certainly ok with letting a bad line, an awkward scene, a hackneyed metaphor stand in a rough draft. Sometimes I just can’t think of anything better right then and I’d rather get the whole thing laid out where I can see it before I start fiddling. It’s ok with me if the fiddling and fixing comes much later. No one’s going to sneak into my hard-drive in the night and read at it and laugh at my lameness. I’ll get it on the 2nd draft, or the 3rd. There’s always another chance; I write a lot of drafts.

People who get writers’ block, I am given to understand, do *not* write a lot of drafts (since it’s not a condition I suffer from, I don’t know exactly–feel free to correct me!) They are willing to wait, cursor blinking, until they have it nailed–it takes longer for them to get it down on the page, but they get it right the first time. A novel concept for one like me, who has so far cut close to 1500 words out of a first draft and isn’t even close to done. I was pretty sure those 1500 words weren’t aces when I wrote them, but they were a bridge from where I was to where I wanted to go–I needed them at the time, although not any longer. That time spent writing what would be later deleted is my version of staring at the blinking cursor–writing garbage, or redundancy, or perfectly adequate narration for another story, is my version of writers’ block

I figured this out with a friend who found the process of writing deadly slow, but her stories required almost no editing–by the time she got there, she was there, the story whole and polished. She was envious of my ability to just keep slugging, no matter my mood or doubts about the story or confusion about whether it even *was* a story. I was envious of her ability to say what she wanted to say straight out, with no excess verbiage or pointless digressions.

We realized that, though our processes were so radically different, from first word to final draft took us both about the same amount of time. Which is encouraging/comforting/non-obnoxious. And makes me feel a little better about the fact that another 1500 words could and probably shall be cut from this story.

I think the message here, if there’s a message, is: any way you go, as long it eventually leads forward, is fine.

I’d certainly be curious to hear what anyone else has to say about blocks, drafts, and the way forward.

It stoned me to my soul
RR

Leave a Reply

So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

Now and Next

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow Me

Good Reads

What People are saying!

Archives

Search the site