January 9, 2012
Who’d a thunk it?
Not so long ago I was trolling through WordPress, as I often do, looking for interesting blogs — and found one almost immediately (oh, I know there are tons of them), but this was the first one I got to and I loved it — so I didn’t look for any more that night. If you’re a writer — or even just love reading interesting, well-written posts — then you should check it out: Magnificent Nose. What I find really interesting is the fact that there are several writers who contribute to it. It’s a neat idea and they’re all great writers. In fact, I liked it so much, I decided to follow it, and subscribed so I would get email notices every time there’s a new post.
Over the holidays I was notified that Julie Goldberg — had just posted: “I don’t have time to believe in writer’s block”. I don’t know a writer who hasn’t, at one time or another, stared at a piece of paper (or a computer screen) hour after hour, day after day, maybe even week after week or month after month — and it just stared back. So needless to say I was intrigued. And once I got into her story I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
What Julie was describing was a scenario I am currently living through — or at least was living through until I read her blog post: A novel she’s been writing for about 20 years. A project she starts and stops and starts and stops etc. etc. etc. The good news is, she’s finally making some good progress. But that’s not why I’m sharing this with you.
I started writing a book almost 4 years ago. Amazingly, I had about 6 chapters written in 5 months — and I had a full time job at the time. Got off to a really fabulous start while visiting friends in Bequia, where I wrote 3 chapters in 10 days. And then I hit a wall.
No, it wasn’t writer’s block. It took me about a month to figure out that I was avoiding the chapter that came next because it dealt with subject matter I didn’t want to re-live: The death of my mother. Once I figured that out I had a decision to make. Deal with it and write the chapter or abandon the book forever more, because the book would not be the book without that chapter.
By then I had become a freelance writer and a strategic consultant so I was working from home. The quiet was too much for me so I took my laptop to a neighbourhood Starbucks and wrote it in 3 days. I sat there for as long as 7 hours a day — and yes, I kept buying. I drowned myself in coffee and tea and water and sustained myself with yoghurt and cheese and crackers and the odd slice of lemon poppyseed poundcake — so I didn’t have to feel guilty about being there all day.
And that was that.
Several times I tried to get back into it and couldn’t. I was distracted. I knew it wasn’t writer’s block — I have been doing all kinds of writing — just not on my book. The longer I was away from my book, the more pissed off at myself I became. I love the idea of this book and desperately want to write it; and finish it; and share it.
But I just couldn’t focus on doing it. At one point I decided to go away for a month — to some remote locale where I’d have no distractions — nothing else to do but write. Until life took over and I got a new client and was too busy (happily) writing for him to spend any time on myself.
Now, of course, I don’t care. Because Julie’s blog struck a chord with me — a big chord. And that very night I, once again, got excited about my book. In my head I started working out the chapter to come. I’m trying to write something every day — and so far, I’m succeeding — thanks to Magnificent Nose.
You see — inspiration can come from anywhere — even in your own backyard — which is exactly what WordPress is for those of us who blog here. Is there a moral to my story?
You bet. Don’t just come here to write your own blog. Spend some time reading other blogs. You’ll meet some great people who have some very interesting stories, many of whom have had or are having similar experiences to your own.
And who knows. They might even be able to help you sort out a problem or two. Look what happened to me.