Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Gluttony of Want Defeats the Havoc Caused by Desire Too Often in My Incapable Hands

Or my panic at not having written a word of my latest manuscript in a fortnight.

The Balance of the Zodiac by Luis Ricardo Falero

All I ever truly want is to write well the initial idea brought to me by my fantastic muse, only the instant there is promise on the page, I panic. I get in my own way and soon I’m consumed by fear that I don’t have what it takes to see, to the end, the brilliant beginning.

And now it has happened to me with my fourth novel Lancaster. My muse sent me a line of dialogue from which four brilliant chapters formed in no time at all only now, at the beginning of the fifth, I’m paralyzed. I haven’t written a word of Lancaster in well over two weeks and the terror of defeat is starting to affect my equilibrium.

I keep telling myself to simply sit down and write, then if it is rotten, at least I would have made the attempt. It’s that, or go on holiday. Build a hut on some distant shore with my man Friday and chart the tide by day and the stars by night.

There is, of course, that alternative that no writer really wants to admit publicly to needing but secretly accepts they should have on speed dial. The dreaded therapist, or rather my salvation and the one who will get me to understand why I can’t write past my insecurities.

That and why it is that I keep having a dream where I share a taxi with George Clooney riding west as the sun rises behind us only to be distracted by the driver whom I’m convinced is the Dalai Lama... And all this because his name tag asks, ‘Do you know the meaning of life?’

You know, I think all this is due in large part, to the fact that Mercury and not Venus rules my sign.

Thursdays and I are always at odds.
I hope you are all happy and well,


  1. I once tried writing 2000 words per day, regardless. A lot of it was nonsense, but the discipline was interesting. I shall NOT repeat the exercise. Cro.

  2. Thursdays, they can be rough. I hope all is well otherwise

  3. That's the trouble with Art - people have stopped looking at it as an ordinary job, like any other hard work. Now that all the hacks of Fleet Street have died from alcohol poisoning, we have lost the ability to turn out 2000 words before deadline whilst slumped - speechless - at a typewriter, like Kingsley Amis was, every night of the week. I used to regularly carry Colin Welch out of our local wine-bar, so that he could get on with his job.

  4. I believe that the writing of a book, is rather like the construction of a building. In that both need to be planned & a card index system is often used for each of the main characters. Is this how you construct your books ?

  5. Planets mess with me too! All the time. I feel a positive alignment forming. Here's to a productive writing weekend.

  6. I am not disciplined so I have no answers. But I do like the idea of the hut and the man, but I'd switch Friday and Clooney in this scenario.

    You'll get there. However, I think you are right--you just have to write. Pick up that pen and go to it. Once the words start to flow, who knows how bad or good it will be?


  7. Until yesterday, I hadn't picked up a pencil and drawn anything for a while... You need to be ready to, and you need to relax into it. One must accept that it might go a little wrong, and it must never be forced.

  8. If I get stuck somewhere I generally try to just write faster. If it's not any good I just put it on my blog. I absolutely love the art on your page by the way. You have impeccable taste.

  9. It will come to you like the sound of an ocean on the breeze, without you asking but just accepting.

  10. I want to play therapist!

    Dawn says to try looking at the goals of your protagonists. What do they want more than anything in the world? What can you do to prevent them from having it?

    Oh! And a good critique partner always helps. Don't be afraid to show your work early and often.

    Brainstorming is fun!

  11. You are your own best therapist when you said "then if it is rotten, at least I would have made the attempt." That's it. Writers write and I suspect by the end of the day you will too.

  12. If nothing else, even if what you write'll feel better having written than having avoided it one more day. Truly.

    I'd encourage you to go look at the last sentence you wrote, ask yourself "what if", and start writing again...even if it doesn't seem right. Often the way to what works is through all of the things that don't. :-)

  13. Aloha,
    you just need to ground yourself , try walking on the sand, let the water run over your feet...

    it is hard to imagine that you struggle with writing ...but... greatness doesn't arrive without it...keep looking up you are fabulous,
    sending you warm sunshine and clear turquoise water and lots of sandy beaches

  14. Is it not enough that we do not write?
    Let alone be paralyzed by fear when we don't?
    Maybe we need an excersise of priorities and the tossing-out of excess emotions and expectations.

    I could take a bit of my own advice... ;)


  15. I'm in the let it rest and return camp. Really give it up for a few days (without worry) and you'll soon going running back.

  16. I had me some terrible Writer's Cramp over the holidays, and can totally understand the desperation that goes through every writer when it happens. I guess the only thing to say is, you just have to face the fear. And I call it that because that's how I felt. I was so afraid of opening the document and having to write. Who knows why. But once I did, and once I got past all the stuff I hated, it got better. I liked the changes I made and the new stuff I'd put down.

    It will get better, and there's no reason to put a time limit on when or how. You will pass the hurdle and things will pick up again. I have faith in you!

  17. Simone darling, I think true artists will always be up above the sky one day and below the ground the next day. So just go with the flow because I'm pretty sure your one of them! (^_^)

  18. Simone,

    I'm no expert, but I get the feeling your fears stem from a long standing desire to be published. FWIW, perhaps you have forgotten the reason you began writing in the first place.

    For me, I love the energy and excitement it brings to my life. Little else would give me greater pleasure than to spend the remainder of my days in a career that fuels my passion. This said, I don't write because I want to be published. Rather, I want to be published because I write.

    Perhaps you should think about the reason you write, if it is for the sheer love of the craft, then do it for yourself. Let go of those fears and tell your story. The rest will come.

    Wishing you all the best my friend.

  19. It's hard to believe you ever have to struggle with words, your posts are so elegant and flow effortlessly.

    I've always found that the best cure for "writer's paralyzation" is to just forge ahead. Even if the words aren't good they're still words and give you something to work with.

    I do like your idea of a hut on an island though, although I'll take Johnny Depp instead of Friday. ;-)

  20. My love to each of you for your kind encouragement. I've turned to editing as cure but I'm optimistic all will be well very soon.
    A lovely week to all.
    All my love,