I’ve always found writing about writing to be a somewhat strange endeavor. Obviously I’m no expert, but I’ve found myself in the position many times before.
Previously, part of my job as a high school English teachers was to help students learn how to write. Writing was always easy for me, so it was difficult for me to teach something that came so naturally. I had to break my writing lessons down into building blocks and rules in order to teach it. I always began with sentences, then moved on to paragraphs, before tackling the almighty five-paragraph essay. The terror that was embodied by the essay was something to be reckoned with. Students were literally afraid of writing; as if the mere act of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) could somehow damage them.
As adults, many of us are no better off. For some reason writing still terrifies us. Perhaps adults are afraid that writing more than a few sentences might reveal that they actually have no idea what they’re talking about! Maybe this is why so many now choose texting over emailing. It doesn’t require any grammar, sentence structure, or lengthy thought development (unless you’re texting me or some of my friends, we’re the grammar police). Texting is quick and to the point.
Because I actually enjoy writing, texting is somewhat daunting to me. How can I fully encapsulate everything I want to say in a few terse phrases? The word choice alone is a momentous decision! Will most of my texting partners recognize the difference between debris and detritus? Will they just expect me to use the word mess and draw their own conclusions???
Perhaps over-think it though. Texting at the end of the day, it just texting. It’s just a few words on a phone screen.
It’s difficult for me to think of anything involving writing as just words. As a teacher, an avid reader, a graduate student, I’ve been trained to read between the lines. I’ve learned how to draw the meaning out of what might otherwise seem an off-hand comment. I’ve mastered the art of inferring significance from just a few words.
And there you have the problem of my writing!
Writing a novel compared to writing this blog is excruciating.
This blog is closer to stream-of-consciousness therapy than to poetry. I think about what I want to say and I say it. I might edit a bit, but I don’t change entire passages or agonize over word choice. If I did you might see a blog post from me about once every month or so…maybe.
Because my novel is going to be for public consumption, because strangers will be reading it and judging me, because its success will depend solely on my ability and not how many people like me and my message, I’m terrified of writing something incorrectly. Each sentence seems a monstrous task to conquer. I edit and re-edit as I write. Reading paragraphs over and over and over until I can finally move on.
This is no way to write! I keep reminding myself that I just need to let it flow, and then go back and edit. If I keep writing the way I have been this novel will never be finished.
Last year I gave myself a deadline but given my divorce and Connor’s autism diagnosis, that deadline came and went. I think I was secretly happy to have a valid excuse to ignore my novel. I was relieved not to have to live up to my goal.
A sad realization, but true.
Unfortunately, with preschool giving me 5.5 hours alone every day I am out of convenient excuses. I no longer have a wily, mischievous, adorable toddler on my hands every minute of the day. No, instead I have…dare I say it…literal free time. UGH!
There is nothing for me to do but return to my novel-writing. I can’t turn away from it and start a new project. I’ve written close to 100 pages! That would be wasteful. Also, I have to write. It’s as if my fingers burn to tap out stories. I think it’s a sickness.
So whether I like it or not, or should I say whether I’m terrified or not, I’m going to finish my novel. Dang it.