Friday, February 28, 2014

The Writing Relationship

I have two main neuroses when it comes to my writing. And the more I think about them, the more I realize that I am kind of a cad in my relationship with the written word.

I can be a wall-flower, unable to get up the courage to engage my writing at all. Or, I rush in passionately with an idea that pervades my every thought for a while, but I quickly move on when the easy part is over; an inept lover to my work by not finishing it off.

Neurosis #1: Taking the Plunge - otherwise known as that horrible, awkward, intense, embarrassing moment that requires walking across the room, introducing myself, and putting myself on the page with the high chance I'm about to fail.

There's that story. Or, at least, those loose threads of a story that have been weaving and unweaving themselves in my brain for years. I'm so wrapped up in how I should write it that I can't seem to make the first move. Which point of view should be used? Whose story is it? What if it doesn't come together at all? Maybe tomorrow ...

On the other hand, there are those love-at-first-sight experiences when inspiration hits and all I have to do is write fast enough to keep up with the thoughts flooding my mind. This is easy writing. Writing that comes to you. I adore playing with that kind of writing. Shaping, molding, and stretching the concept to see just how far I can take it.

At least, I do until the flood gates dry up and it pretty much has its shape.

Neurosis #2: Long-term Commitment

I mean, I made it way past first base. The idea was just there. The words joyously tumbled about. It was effortless.

But a long-term, take-it-to-the-end commitment? The hard day-in, day-out work of an enduring relationship built on trust and editing? And editing ... and editing? And researching and querying? And querying ... and querying?

What's the fun in that?

Luckily, I have author therapists: wise, successful mentors who have had these problems and allow me to lay back with my head in their books while they offer sage advice.

Scared of taking the plunge? The late Tom Clancy answers: "Do not over-intellectualize the production process.... Tell the damn story."

Terrified of the work involved in a serious commitment to publish? E.B. White admits that writing was difficult for him. But, "all this about inspiration—I think writing is mainly work. Like a mechanic's job. A mechanic might as well say he was waiting for inspiration before he greased your car." In other words: do the damn work.

So, my dear Writing, I promise to be a better author to you. I promise to:
  1. make an appointment with myself for writing,
  2. make an appointment with myself for bringing written projects to fruition,
  3. not open my email during the above-mentioned appointment times,
  4. set deadlines, 
  5. and, most importantly,
  6. tell the damn story.
Love, Tabitha

So, tell me about your writing neuroses. We can all share. Then we will join hands and sing "Everybody Wants to Rule the Word."

1 comment:

Scott said...

I don't know why my writing stays in the relationship. I can be inattentive, so absorbed with my own life that I fail to nurture the relationship. And then when I do pay attention to my writing, I'm often very intense for brief stretches of time, before retreating back to my inattentive shell.

(Good post, by the way!)