Sunday, February 12, 2006

28, 32

That's what I have written: 28 polished pages of my story. I've drafted out to page 32. And I'm very nervous about the whole thing. Not because I'm afraid it's crap - although I am, a little. And not because I'm shy about actually letting people read it, which will have to happen next week. The feeling I have is more slippery than either of those things, harder to pin down. But I think it's mostly a fear that I won't finish, now that I'm within ten pages of the end.

Writing isn't a mystical experience, not for me anyway. But sometimes it seems like it must be the result of something more than just determination, just willpower. Writing is always hard, and even when I'm in the mood for it, I have to force myself to sit down and do it. Because there's always something easier that I could be doing, something less dangerous. Writing is a risk: what if I sit here for two hours and write nothing at all? what if I pour myself out on this page and then it's all wrong, no good, hardly worth the effort of revision?

But if I get started, I'm usually afraid to stop. The movie plays itself out in my head, and I transfer it: a flurry of keystrokes, read, tap out changes.... I write like I'm squeezing water out of a dishrag. I might think all the worthwhile writing has been twisted out of me after an hour, but I keep pushing it for another two hours - or three. The quality of what I'm writing suffers with every paragraph. But once I tap into my imaginative energy, I'm afraid to quit until I'm completely drained. When I finally do walk away, I leave behind raw scenes as a warm-up for next time. Because when I sit down again, I won't be faced with a drop-off to climb out of; I'll have a foothold to spring from.

It doesn't really make a difference, though: every time I save my work, I wonder if that was the last time. I've had so many blank days that, even though I know better, I fear Imagination could leave me forever. So today, later, I know I will close the door to this room and try to write. And probably, I will be a few pages closer to done when I open the door again. But what if I'm not?


Blogger Jessie said...

Well, if you're not then you're still quite a few pages closer to home than many of us.

I love this post. I'll probably even read it a few more times.

You should read this to your class. I think they'd appreciate it too.

2/12/2006 4:23 PM  

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