« Okay, back to me now. | Main | Janice is a Pedantic Ham, Part Three »


I may as well tuckle in a post-script to that wonderful introduction because that fantasy novel went through more than one draft. I wrote the "good parts" first, just throwing down all of these action or high emotional moments onto the page. I wrote it out all long hand because I didn't have a typewriter.

When I finished that first draft I set it aside, as I had read one ought to do, and eventually returned to it to write in the filler, the exposition, the passages of description and details that I had left out before. Yes, kiddies, this was still done longhand!

Then I wrote a third draft, fleshing out, cutting out, and drawing out the plot as best I could.

After setting it aside yet again and when I finally had a typewriter to use, I pulled out all those pages and pages and pages of writing and read through my third draft manuscript and hated every word of it. So I did what I now know I should never ever have done.

I threw it away.

Why did I throw it away? Because it was hack. I mean, did the world really need a story about a hero (or in my novel's case heroine) who is called to go on a quest? My goodness there were so many of these books already cluttering the shelves! What was I thinking?

This was before I ever heard of Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces and learned that such archetypical hero tales are deeply rooted in our psyche and now, when I think back on my story's premise I realize that I was doing some wonderful Jungian self-healing tapping into and creating my own myths.

Oh well.

And for the record . . . I am 7 yrs older than Jah-nees and am celebrating my birthday on Friday. Which one? I'll let Janice expose our ages or you can visit my blog sometime Friday to find out because I'm not overly anxious about getting older and love shouting out my age from the rooftops. Woohoo!

I like to read to avoid writing too!!

I love this. Do you think there's a lobotomy that could extract the avoidance portion of the brain and leave only sheer productivity?

I like to read to avoid writing three!

And now, in a role reversal, I will comment on Satia's post.

I think you're well ahead of the game in recognizing that you have the talent and the imagination necessary to do the work, if only you will get out of your own way. The major issue here sounds like it's anxiety, which is a common problem that people deal with when the approach writing (and when they approach life).

Writing makes people anxious, and thinking about writing makes them even more anxious, especially when they've invested the act of writing with mystical or spiritual powers that it doesn't necessarily have. I know that I put writing on a pedestal sometimes, which doesn't help -- approaching it like it's just another thing on the to-do list is often the only way I can do it. Too much thinking about it makes me nervous (is this going to be the piece that wins me global accolades and love and understanding and enough money to retire on permanently? will I ever be able to write anything as good as I did that one time I wrote something I almost liked? etc.).

The anxiety gets worse when it comes time to revise, which I think is another big issue you're having. Sometimes you can push through the anxiety and write, but revision feels like it's impossible -- I often have this feeling about revision, too. Because that's when you have to get away from the black-and-white thinking of "it's great" or "it sucks," and start confronting the nuances of it. It's NOT great, because it's a first draft, and that makes you want to abandon it wholesale without giving it a chance to be great. I don't know how to make the act of revising easier, and I wish I did, because SO many people struggle with it -- not being able to revise is one of the most common problems that I hear from people. But I'll ask some of my own gurus how they handle it, and I'll ask you to think about what in particular makes revising so difficult. Your answer will probably help a lot of people besides yourself.

Eric Maisel said that writing causes anxiety, which I can vouch for, but NOT writing also causes anxiety, and that we should choose the anxiety of creating over the anxiety of not creating. I always try to keep that in mind when I'm feeling particularly flighty or distracted. And anything you can do to keep the day-to-day anxiety of living to a minimum (as if!) will help both your writing and your living.

So I hope some of this rambling was helpful, and when I can think of more to ramble about, I'll add it to this thread. Thanks for being so honest and sharing your struggle! I love you.

"will I ever be able to write anything as good as I did that one time I wrote something I almost liked?"

Ain't it the truth...

"...we should choose the anxiety of creating over the anxiety of not creating."

thank you thank you. holy mother, you nailed it there. i'm always remembering to myself that i only do things when i'm finally uncomfortable ENOUGH to get off my ass and stop being a slacker.

me four on the reading (mostly awful trashy magazines) to avoid strategy; a rather terrible strategy for me since it invites more doubt from comparison. on the flip side, and in order to avoid the comparison part, i have taken to exploring other art to get myself back on track. when i can't figure out what the crap i'm doing in theatre, i head to the museum instead of another show. it's kinda like staring backwards at your own head so you can watch yourself get smacked back into things.

but hey, i'm still not giving up those magazines anytime soon.

Nice blog, Georgie. And I should credit Eric Maisel again, since my sentence structure above was abominable -- he's the one who said the thing about choosing the anxiety of creating. THE ART OF THE BOOK PROPOSAL is a really psychologically insightful book -- if I could put my hands on my copy, I'd look up what he says about revision; I bet it's spot on.

why thank you. coming from a self-proclaimed ham, i take it as a compliment. you're lovely.

you're revising your revision of something someone else said about creating and revising? i think i just got a new twitch... from adoring laughter. really. i'll keep my eyes peeled for the maisel.

The comments to this entry are closed.