Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Stopping stopping

I love writing. I really love it. When my fingers are flying over the keyboard and my characters are acting and speaking with their own hearts and minds, seemingly without my input, I am blissfully happy and at peace. When inspiration strikes part-way through a sentence and I recognise A Good Idea (as opposed to just an idea, of which I need a several a day) I light up inside. But I also perversely love the teeth-pulling grind of the wasteland, that stretch to be found in the middle of every book where you are far from the end but can no longer see the beginning when you turn back to shore. A sailor can turn upward to the stars to reassure himself that he is on the right track, a writer cannot. It's scary, but I love it. Even if I only manage a few hundred words, or a chapter rewritten, or a few facts checked, I feel blessed to be able to earn money this way. When I'm not writing, I am twitchy.

I had a busy holiday weekend, and apart from a stolen hour on Sunday afternoon, I was unable to make any progress on the novel (though the garden is looking tip-top) This morning I was hammering away at the keyboard at 7.30, eager to get started, to get on. Because I do love it. And yet...

I keep stopping.

The common paradox I find in the experience of my fellow writers is a kind of self-sabotaging tendency to procrastinate, to ponder, to edit and to waste countless hours on the internet in the name of 'research' or plain old avoidance, when what we all really love to do most of all is write. So why are we not all completing a novel a month and to hell with everything else? Why am I blogging now when all weekend I was itching to get back to the task at hand?

I think it is fear. If you are in the middle of the ocean and cannot see the shore there is a strong temptation to drop anchor and secure yourself, to batten down the hatches and wait to be saved. And the answer? Look up to the stars and trust that you are going in the right direction. If you keep going eventually land will come into sight. even if you find yourself somewhere entirely unexpected. If you stop then the sharks will get you.

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