Blank Pages

Blank pages are supposed to excite me. After all, it is the blank page that invites me to create. Yet I stare at the invitation offered, filled with terror, the little voice in my head whispering “you have nothing to say that people want to listen to.”

Years ago when I felt this way, I could drop in on Twitter and with a hashtag, discuss my fears with the writing community. Now it feels as if there is a very little listening, only talking. I am probably wrong, but when you’re ready to click delete on a project that has been two years in the making, nothing makes sense.

I feel silly feeling this way. After all, I am the woman who told her shrink last week “Stephen King ruined one of my favorite books because I realized how many adverbs were on the first page.” So I am always thinking about writing. Studying language. Wondering where my characters are hiding, and what their next moves might be.

I am reading — voraciously — listening to books and podcasts, hoping to find inspiration, reading blogs by other writers, and trying to not listen to the voices in my head. I have spent my time on the yoga mat where I argued with myself over my poses, and drank more coffee than any one human should be able to consume on given day. There have been long walks, longer showers, self-care out the wazoo, and my shell is… empty.

Somehow, everything has lost its sparkle. There are no shiny pencils to unwrap that will inspire me — not even a new package of Blackwings will help. And believe me, that order has been placed. If my husband is reading this “Sorry, not sorry, honey.”

So I am left with the blank pages, feeling very alone and wishing my brain wasn’t trapped in a wrestling move I worry I’ll never break out of.

 

 

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Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a real bitch. There’s no other way to put it. At this point, I don’t even know if that’s what I’d call it. More like a crisis of self. I’ve been mentally listing all of the things that I’d like to have with self- in front of them.

  • self-confidence
  • self-approval
  • self-awareness

I can sit here and say with complete confidence that I know that I’m not alone. Yet I feel like I am sitting alone is some corner, surrounded by an opaque black shroud that is blocking all of the words from leaving or entering.

It’s pretty dark right now, friends.

There will be people who read this post and nod their heads, because they know exactly how I feel and what I’m going through. Either because they have dealt their own writer’s block, or they’re going through it right this very second.

I repeat that to myself over and over, a reminder, a mantra, “You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone.”

The thing is, I think the words might be there and I am afraid to let them out. I’ve shoved a square peg into a round hole and it’s wedged in there so tight, nothing will ever break free.

I know I’m afraid to let them out.

I’ve been doing exercises in creativity and they make my heart race and not in a good way. The anxiety pours out all over the page. Even now, as I sit here and write this, I feel anxiety racing through my body. My shoulders feel like they’re locked in a vise grip and I will never be able to break free. There is this intense pressure to perform and I — can’t.

Not being able to do what I love leaves me feeling numb. I wish I could cry and just get it all out of my body, but even the tears that used to flow freely are locked away in a cabinet somewhere in the dark depths of my brain, the location of the key a fading memory.

My friends, you are not alone. I know that you’re here. While the selfish part of me wants to believe that I am alone in this, I know that I’m not. I’m here, and I’m listening.

The Muse

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs

Time Spent Reading

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
—Samuel Johnson

One True Sentence

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”― Ernest Hemingway

The Race to Write

I’ve been pushing myself to write more. That’s always what a writer wants to do, write more and more. Well, we want the freedom to be able to write as much as want, but life dictates otherwise — bills have to be paid, groceries bought, children cared for, laundry folded — there’s just so much.

That being said, I’m trying an experiment. Let’s call it a social experiment where I’ll test the waters of my dismal focus and push myself to produce more than I have in the past few months.

Instead of using my desktop with the fancy monitor and cushy chair, I’ve reverted back to using my laptop. I unplug it and whatever charge I have on the battery, I have to race it until the red warning pops up that tells me I’m going to lose everything and I need to either plug-in or shut down. Then, and only then, can I say I’m finished for the time being.

It’s like a writing sprint and I’m the only participant. I started this blog post with 27% battery life and am working to beat the clock and get something online that is relevant to what I’m doing and which might be relevant to other writers.

Watching my fingers fly across the keyboard is a beautiful thing as it forces me into a position where I don’t have time to dilly-dally nor dawdle. The only thing I can do is write and I’ll write like the demons of hell are chasing after me in order to get the words out of me and into a form that’s ready for reading.

My husband has said it’s like watching an F1 race on the keyboard. As I push myself to focus and press on, instead of meander around the internet, I am less distracted by social media and just one more website that I need to visit.

I imagine I’m in a cafe, sitting in one of my favorite cities, and the only thing I have to do is write. Of course, I wish some of the words I were writing were like Hemingway, but a girl can dream. That being said, I do tend to write short, terse sentences, but I prefer not to get lost in the more flowery language, instead I create descriptions that are raw and perfunctory.

12% — do or die time. This is where I end for now. I’ll plug-in to charge and work on my chapter, hoping I get to 2k words tonight. Maybe I’ll give myself a percentage I need to stop at as the charge increases, who knows. If I do, I’m sure I’ll tell you about it.

 

Character Conundrum

I’m writing a novel. This isn’t a moment where I’m making some profound statement about my work, nor am I asking you to throw glitter and toot a horn. I am actually questioning my sanity at the moment.

The idea of a character came to me — she’s so perfect — so delicious in a matronly blue-hair, girdle type of way. Even her name makes me laugh when I say it.

What’s my conundrum?

The other characters.

I know who they are and who they’re supposed to be, but I can’t name them. I’ve spent hours pacing the floor,  yelling out into the void “What is your name?” and they continue to hide.

I have a friend who published”Characters Without a Book.” My characters have a book, they’re just being incredibly stubborn about telling me WHO they are.

Naming characters is a challenge. Not only do I want to make sure the name suits the character, but that it fits the era (or in this case, eras) and works with the geography. While my book is based in the US, the area is a small Southern town I know and is unique in the names of the “native born” who have inhabited the area for a few centuries.

And so, I will sit here with my notebook and a list of names I’ve scribbled over various pages and debate. In a few weeks, I’ll travel to said town to visit the library and look at old yearbooks from the past and pick random first and last names and fill in the pages of the same notebook as I work to give my characters a name.

If I’m going to tell their life story, they deserve a great name.