I’m going to have to cease posting for a bit. I really have to knuckle down and concentrate on producing the next Auroran Lights Newsletter for CSFFA (The Aurora Awards people) as I’m at least a month behind.
Since, because of my increasing senility, I am no longer capable of multitasking and can only concentrate on one project at a time, this is my only choice.
Makes me wonder how other writers (bit pretentious to call myself a writer, given that I’ve never published professionally… I’ll have you know I’m NOT a “bit” pretentious; I am “fantastically” pretentious!) cope with the task of writing.
I, for one, require absolute silence, otherwise I can’t concentrate.
I once mentioned this to Christie Harris, a west coast writer who specialised in YA books about the Haida and other First Nations peoples, and she considered my requirement nonsense, saying something like:
“Back when we owned a farm I just plopped my typewriter on a table in the chicken yard, sat myself on a sturdy wooden chair, and typed merrily away to the accompaniment of much clucking, with a baby under my arm no less, and I did fine. Got a lot of writing done.”
Ummm, I’m not like that.
Not only do I require peace and calm to get going, when it comes to fiction I require courage as well. Can take me up to three hours to build up the impulse to pour my thoughts into my computer.
Mind you, non-fiction no problem. I can pontificate endlessly with the best of them.
For some reason I regard fiction more seriously, to the point of risking anxiety attacks.
Once I complete a thousand words (which usually takes three hours, so combined with my “pump-up” session means six hours devoted to a writing session at a minimum) I almost always consider the text the most magnificent prose ever written by anyone, never mind just by little old me.
The next morning when I reread it in the cold light of day, it’s all I can do to keep from sobbing with remorse.
Cicero once wrote “There is a big difference between the light of lamps and the light of day.” He wasn’t kidding! Bothered him too.
Add to this Harlan Ellison’s comment “It takes just as much effort to write a bad book as it does a good one, so stop writing and save yourself the trouble” (or something like that–my memory not the best), and it becomes readily apparent the odds are stacked against you (or at least me) when it comes to building confidence enough to get started, let alone keep going.
I like to imagine it gets easier after several of your novels are published, that writing becomes an ingrained habit, that writing becomes joyful and exciting and thrilling such that you wake up in the morning bursting with desire to get at that keyboard!
On the other hand, I have the nagging feeling there must be a reason a vast number of writers are addicted to booze or drugs, including some of the best and most popular authors. Could it be that writing can be stressful? Nah. Gotta be something else. Mere coincidence perhaps.
Fortunately, I can’t afford to become a booze hound. I find that getting plenty of sleep allays my stress and anxiety, at least till I regain consciousness. If I could just write while I was asleep!
I once dreamed I was writing an epic poem, and when I woke up I was convinced the completed manuscript lay on the table next to my bed. I turned to gaze approvingly upon it, only to realized in horror that there was no manuscript and it had all been a dream. I sat bolt upright and tried to recover the poem from my memory before it faded.
Alas, all I could remember was the title, “Sum Thermae” (which I think means something like “Total Hot Water Bath”), and the fact the subject of the poem had to do with the history of the U.S. seventh cavalry. Perhaps not an epic after all.
Oh well. Maybe my next dream will be more useful.