There are times the words flow, they are an unstoppable tide which rushes up the shingle beach, taking all before it. The words, sentences and paragraphs form a not so orderly queue in your mind, tripping over each other to be unloaded onto the blank page or computer screen. It is a literary stampede, a runaway train and you go with it, delighted at the ease with which the story is forming.
I’ve felt like that at times this week. I’ve been writing consistently and my word count has pleased and perplexed me in equal measure. Pleased because every time I have a few spare moments I feel drawn to the story whereas often in the past wild horses could not have dragged me to it. I’m ahead of schedule and it shows no sign of letting up. I’m going with the flow and making the most of this Indian summer.
But I’m bemused as well. Because why can’t it be this easy all the time? What about the times when I sit staring at the blank screen unable to string two coherent sentences together, when the well is utterly dry and the word drought shows no sign of abating. Why it so often famine or feast when it comes to story telling, there is no comfortable middle ground where we can hone our craft in peace.
Then there are the times when the work is cast aside for days, weeks or months on end. There was a two month period during the penning of Book 1 when I couldn’t look at it. I still blogged but the laptop was otherwise neglected, sitting in the corner of the room staring at me forlornly every time I walked past. It could feel it’s rejection burning into back of my neck but I was powerless to pick it up.
Lastly there is the garbage shift, where you pour your heart and soul into a piece only to sit back and realise you have just created the worst piece of prose in living history. You clench your nose for it truly stinks. Did I really think that was any good? Self doubt creeps inside you, that old friend of even the most talented author. It whispers old truths in your ear, shaming and belittling your ability.
You angrily run a red pen through the line, rip the page from your notebook or hit the delete button on the keyboard. I’ve wiped entire chapters in the past, hours of work in a fit of pique. I’ve seen fellow bloggers delete multiple posts because they feel inadequate and unworthy. This saddens me because we are all equals within this community. We checks our egos at the door when we log on.
Writing, like every other art, is a process and, at times, that process can be tortuous. There are days when nothing seems to be going to plan and everything we touch turns to mush. My advice? Persevere. Don’t give up. Even the greats have struggled to create, to produce the works of greatness we purr and coo over today. There are no short cuts and there will be tough times when we can see no light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ll return to the book later, eager to pick up the golden creative thread and add to my burgeoning word count. I have plans of finishing the first draft by the end of the year and my hopes of that are growing by the day. Yet I’m always warily looking ahead waiting for the tensile thread to snap and for my dreams to unravel before my eyes. Leaving me alone and adrift, a writer who cannot write.