Friday, March 26, 2010

writing about writing (or rather, not writing)

Okay I haven't started my book yet. I haven't lifted a finger to it since I threw my intentions into the winds of the universe.

I think this is because I'm deeply afraid of it. Of the writing of it.

Well that and the cracks in my day that sometimes facilitate thinking and writing have been shifting around a lot lately. Predictability satisfies me. Shiftiness does not.

But the real problem lies in the fact that I've never written fiction before. Never. Oh wait, except for The Pencil Who Wanted a Name Back in the 5th grade. And if my current fiction skills hold a candle to that attempt, I'm not going to get very far.

So far, my writing has been essay-style, personal. About myself and my experiences. Which is fine and fulfilling and me.

But I have this potential story in my head, which I think I've nailed down into a rough plot that might actually work, but I'm afraid that when I start writing the first page, or maybe after I've written a bunch of pages, I'll discover that my story is really a dead end and my fiction just plain sucks.

Yes, it's the old fear of failure bubbling up again. When I was a child, I would reaffix the sticker on my test to cover up the grade if it was anything less than perfect. I've been fearing non-perfection for a long time. My whole life, basically. So I'm experienced in the nuances of this particular fear. But not really with how to overcome it.

I am also astonishingly good at comparing myself to others. So I read a great novel or poke around in the blog world and I start to think: wait a minute—I'm not one of them. I'm just me. Very small me. I can't call myself a writer. I can't call myself a thinker. I can't possibly be so egotistical to think that anything I write will be worth reading. I'm just a girl (ack, turning into a MATURE WOMAN, almost 30, almost old, still not started) with a passion for words and their construction and artful expression. I have three kids circling me at all times like cartoon birds that pop up when the character hits her head. So I write stagnantedly, stop-startingly, excruciatingly slowly, if at all. Then I stare at my meager words skipping across the screen like stepping stones strewn across a river and wonder—is there a point here? Where am I going with this? Is there even something on the other side?

I don't need reassurance. I don't need hand-holding. I just need to buck up and write. Breathe through the labor pains and deliver that fear. Hold it, look it in the eyes, claim it as my own, pour my milk down its throat and watch it grow into something else, something not scary at all but independent and productive and pulsating with life.

I just need to write. 

Before the winds of the universe blow this one away.

But first I have to shower, round up breakfast, let the dog out, nurse the baby, wash the dishes, watch my head spin on my shoulders, make lunch, change diapers, start laundry, quell spats, drive to preschool, etc, etc, etc. 

[Hm, maybe I should start with a short story?]