I haven’t written a blog entry in quite some time. Mostly because I’ve had other things to worry about, but now writing is back on that worry list and it’s sitting at number one.
What’s got me worried is my inability to write anything. At all.
Usually if someone posted a comment about this happening to them I would probably try to help which is kind of ironic now. Plus the fact my advice would be full of bullshit.
I’ve never had this problem before and to be honest I never thought I would. I tried to stop writing once, just to see what would happen, and I couldn’t, I couldn’t actually do it. Writing is like an addiction and I’m confident it’s the same for many writers.
This inability to write is made all the more concerning for me because I’m really excited about my current WIP. I want to write chapter after chapter. I know where my story is going, where it’s set, who the characters are and their goals. For once I feel as if I could complete this story so why, why has it recently become a struggle to write one lousy sentence? Is this karma toying with me?
Right at this very moment it’s suddenly become clear to me (yes I can be a little slow) that I am in fact writing something. Obviously this is different, this isn’t creative, I’m merely bitching to anyone who’ll read this and empathise with me. And thank you.
My inability to write came to me in a not so obvious way, in the sense that I didn’t think much of it. It was a few days back when I couldn’t for the life of me end the first chapter of my story. It’s never happened before, so I turned to my BF for some advice. She offered little help which I don’t blame her for because it’s my writers block and I’m the writer. I tried to think of a solution and the best one I came up with was to simply not finish it, just let it hang and move on after all it’s only the first draft and it’s better to just keep moving. I was somewhat satisfied with the idea so I set my creative juices on chapter two which is when the exciting stuff begins. This, however, is when I’ve discovered I really can’t write anything.
For the better half of this afternoon I sat and wrote four different opening paragraphs which all bugged the hell out of me and got me quite angry. This anger was something I didn’t expect and didn’t enjoy, obviously. I’ve managed to pin point its sudden fiery existence to my feeling of haplessness brought on by this problem which in turn makes this anger rise. Huh, I’ve completed a 360. (At this point I should explain I have a mild case of perfectionism when it comes to my writing. In my case it’s an extremely bad habit to have because it’s prevented me from finish any of my novels… all nine of them. Sigh. But I’m trying very hard to ignore the little voice that demands everything I write to be prefect first time round because I am well aware it will not and should not be this way. Stories take countless drafts and rewriting so I know that whatever I type or handwrite doesn’t need to be 100% good.) Nevertheless I can’t seem to get going, I can’t seem to get the words flowing (Ha!).
Tuesdays were a lot like Mondays at Summit HS—No!
Room 208 on a Tuesday morning was usually a dull place to be before English class began—No!
Anything and everything made news at Summit HS—No!
Garth hated Tuesdays. It felt like a go nowhere day, the inbetweener in the first half of the week—NO!
Actually I don’t mind most of the beginnings I’ve written except I run out of something to say after about seven lines, even though I know where it’s supposed to be going.
Okay now here it comes, here comes the moment I ask if anyone has some advice. Not being able to enjoy my passion is worrying me. I don’t want to let another novel become a hopeless endeavour. I don’t want it to sit in a folder in my computer and on my desk collecting dust. Help anyone? How do I get this going again? I know what I want to write, it’s just not coming out.
So, a couple of days ago I sat down at my computer, thought of a scenario which involved to completely new characters and began typing up a conversation between them without dialogue tags. To be honest I did use a few, only to set the scene, but for most of the 1,349 conversation it’s tagless. My goal was to see how much I could convey through the dialogue rather than relying on the tags to say how my characters were feeling or what they were doing. I think it went well, reading through it I can clearly understand who is talking without the need for he/she said. And my writing was quick, much quicker and fluid as it’s ever been. The conversation was so easy to write and not having to worry about he/she with…. I think made the dialogue sound much more realistic.
In fact I enjoyed it so much that I’ve continued writing about the characters and the dialogue between them.
Here’s an excerpt. If anyone happens to read through it all please let me know what you think.
“D’you think we’ve done the right thing?”
Kale looked up at Leora. “You say this now why?”
Leora shrugged. “It’s just got me thinking, ya know.”
“You’ve had plenty of time to think Lee, why now?”
Giving up on the conversation, Kale turned his attention back to the parchment sitting on the table. Leora glanced at the bustling local bar around them then back at Kale.
“What if the legend is true?” She asked, her voice not hiding the concern she felt.
“Then it’s a good thing we found this,” Kale said and tapped the old document he was studying.
Loera lent into the table. “All these people are in danger, we’re in danger.”
“Shh…” Kale said distantly.
“Stop!” Kale’s head snapped up and his eyes bore into Leora’s. “We are sitting in a shithole bar in a remote town on the Borneo coast and you’re having doubts. I told you this would be dangerous.”
“I know all that.”
“So why are we having this conversation then? I need to focus on translating this moth-eaten piece of paper, so just…go grab a beer or something.”
“Kale you know I don’t drink.”
“Kale you’re not being fair.”
“No I’m being plenty fair. I could’ve left in you rot back home instead of telling you about all this.”
“Don’t be a jerk for the sake of it, you would’ve told me regardless.”
“Not if I knew we’d be having this pointless conversation. Now shush!”
Loera went silent mostly out of anger towards Kale, but she couldn’t hold her tongue for long. “I don’t get how you can be so calm about all this. You’ve been risking your life for too long you know that, Kale? What we went through to get that parchment would scar most people for life. You’re not normal.”
Kale sighed and gave up trying to read through the ancient Latin scribbled in faded ink. He looked at Leora. “Would you prefer if I ran around like a headless chook? This is my job Lee, you know that so don’t act horrified. I moved passed the fear and pain years ago.”
“And that’s what scares me, Kale. You’ve adapted too well to this sort of stuff and it’s not right, it’s not healthy.”
“Not healthy is thinking the world isn’t like this. Knowing you could die any second makes you cherish life that much more.”
“That’s a real twisted way of honouring the gift of life Kale.”
“It works for me and it used to work for you.”
“Yeah, when I was younger and stupid. Things change, though I guess not in your world.”
“Hey, I love what I do.”
“A little too much I think.”
“You know what your problem is Lee? You’ve lost your passion for this stuff.”
“Indiana Jones had passion, you‘re just suicidal and crazy.”
“Indiana Jones is bullshit, I’m the real deal.”
“Don’t flatter yourself.”
“Hey remember that job we did in Peru a few years back? There’s no way a Hollywood actor would last five seconds in the shit we ended up in.”
Leora laughed. “Yeah you’re right. I never thought we’d get out.”
“But we did and we will this time.”
“Kale that was a scared statue, this…well this is a completely different ball park.”
“So the stakes are a little higher, we’re still pull it off.”
“How can you be so sure? How can you know any of this will work out? There’s too much riding on this for you to act so gung-ho.”
“D’you want us to fail?”
“No, of course not.”
“Then stop being so pessimistic. Negative energy, Leora.”
“Oh please, since when do you buy into that new age crap?”
“It’s the principle of the concept. Think negative thoughts and you’ll have a negative outcome. Simple.”
“If only all this was that simple.”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
“This stopped being fun three months ago.”
Since becoming a member of this website early last year I’ve learnt A LOT from many amazing, smart writers. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve been trying hard to implement is, just write. That seems to be the key to completing that first draft, don’t worry about your grammar or plot holes or missing details, just write down your story and then work on it. For me, though, it’s easier said than done. I know, I know, I know! I keep telling myself. I know they don’t have to be the greatest works of literature in the world, and they never will be anyway. However, I’m so desperate for my stories to work that I’ve convinced myself they need to be perfect the first time round, even though I’m aware they don’t. That’s probably the main reason I have roughly six unfished novels collecting virtual dust and a sense of dread about trying to finish them.
What’s been bothering me the most lately, and has subsequently brought another story to a halt is my fear of filler. For my latest story I’ve mapped out a few major scenes and so all I really have to do is let my characters find their way there. At first I wasn’t concerned, but as I write the second chapter, which is setting up chapter 3 (which is mostly written…go figure) it’s feeling more and more like pointless dribble. I’ve reasoned with myself that because I’m the all mighty ‘creator’ of my project I’m consequently too close to it and don’t know whether any of chapter 2 offers anything useful.
To give you a rundown of chapter 2 my MC, Lorie, is off to have lunch with her friend, Hayley, in the school cafeteria. This is a first for her since arriving at the school a month ago. She’s not a very social person and finds busy, cramped and noisy places unsettling so she’s not looking forward to it. Nevertheless she joins Hayley and Lorie is quickly bombarded by her friend’s obsession with a boy. They kind of get into an argument (Hayley wants Lorie to be more supportive), but they work out things just as Lorie’s name is announced over the PA system. Together they go to the principal’s office and Lorie goes in alone. The principal tells Lorie she missed her detention yesterday, for being late to school again (she's been late nearly every day since starting school), and as punishment she receives detention for a whole week, which is scheduled for an hour before school so she can learn the values of punctuality. She also receives an additional detention for skipping school during a lunch break (she does this quite often to escape the school environment) after a student informed him. Lorie is angry because she knows who the tattletale is (a snobby girl, who Lorie back chatted to because the girl had been making fun of her). With no choice but to accept her punishment, Lorie leaves the principal’s office and is immediately bombarded with questions from Hayley who assumes Lorie was in trouble. Lorie becomes defensive and calls Hayley a hypocrite and storms off. They soon patch things up. Lorie also makes a bet with Hayley that she can arrive on time to school every day next week. Hayley automatically assumed Lorie’s detention was after school and agrees to the bet, sceptical Lorie will win. They then head up to their lockers. While there Lorie and Hayley get into another quarrel because Lorie asks Hayley if she knows what her next class is. Hayley quickly gives in and says they both have double maths.
The chapter then skips to the end of their class when the bell rings. While everyone is excited about the weekend Lorie isn’t, mostly because she’ll have to spend it at home with her mother (they seriously don’t get along), but first she has a detention to attend. When Lorie arrives she quickly notices she’s not alone, two boys and a girl are sitting up the back and look like regulars. She takes a seat and pulls out her poetry book and quickly begins daydream, until something hits her head. Looking down at the floor she realises the trio are throwing stuff at her. The principal let’s Lorie leave while the others have to stay. Lorie’s grateful and goes home. This is the end of chapter 2. Chapter 3 begins with Lorie’s mother wanting to talk to her about the detentions she’s received, in a not so diplomatic way.
In essence chapter 2 is the scene setter for the argument Lorie has with her mother which becomes the reason she leaves home and bumps into Theo again, the eventual love interest. Chapter 2 will be about 15-18 pages long which isn’t too bad, but does everything I’ve talked about sound engaging or even useful for that matter? I’m just worried that, in the end, it’s pointless or i'll start putting filler into other chapters. What do you guys and gals think? Please help!
It’s a lot to take in I know I’m sorry so thank you for taking the time to read it :redface:
Creative juices are a fickle thing. For me, 89% of the time they’re sweet, but for the remaining 11% they’re sour and full of pulp, yuck! However, what’s worse is that lately those juices have been filling the wrong glass.
Alright, enough with the juice metaphors, what I’m saying is I have a writing issue. For the past couple of months I’ve found it far easier to continue writing a pointless fanfiction then to actually work on, optimistically, a future published novel.
Fanfic’s are a guilty pleasure. I haven’t actually written a lot or even finished one, but they’re easy writing. The characters, settings, plot etc., are practically sitting in a box saying, ‘Pick me!’ and all you’ve got to do is play it out on a page. I won’t admit what TV show my fanfic is based on, only that it’s no longer running
To be honest it’s coming along well and if I really wanted to I could finish it, expect that irks me. Like I said in the paragraph above, fanfic’s are easy writing because the structure is there; you know the characters and their world and how they react and live within it. The same could be said for my own work, I know my characters, where they are, why and what they’re supposed to be doing. So why is it easier to work on the useless fanfic? Why do I get more enjoyment for it then from working with my own true creation? I’m excited about my story, I can’t wait to see where it goes and yet it feels like a struggle to sit down and write about it. The creativity just isn’t flowing.
It’s quite possible that I’ve fallen into my own, unintentionally laid, trap. Originally I’d wanted to use fanfic’s as a writing exercise, a way to figure out my style and flow. Now, though, I think my creative side has become ensnared and addicted to these prefabricated stories.
I desperately want it to escape so I can imprison it within my novel and let it feel safe and addicted there. But how do I convince it to make that jump?
Maybe I should finish the fanfic. Just get it done and pray I have enough juices to put back in the right glass. I hope I haven’t ruined my creative side, I love writing but the thought of being reduced to this uninspired form of writing scares me. There are stories I want to tell and once I get this pesky problem out the way, hopefully they’ll be told.
Yesterday, months of hard work, cleaning and stress all came to an end within the span of an hour. Yesterday our family home was sold. The auction didn't initially go as well as planned, however the result was pleasing nonetheless.
Most of my childhood had happened in this house, this old worn out space. In a way it’s become an icon of salvation, which is oddly contradicting because we never wanted to be where we are in the first place. Early on in my childhood a series of financial problems caused my family to move in with my grandparents. It was tight living and my parents and grandparents would clash often. But despite all of the repercussions it’s been our ‘safety blanket’.
That’s what my mum’s called it, a ‘safety blanket’ that’s kept our family from moving on. It makes sense to me seeing how this is, or now was, her childhood home too. For her there are a lot of memories hanging on walls and under our feet and stored in the garage. It got even harder for her when my grandparents died, mostly because the house is full of their treasures more than our own. This is something we’ve all missed the most. Moving in with them meant we had to get rid of the stuff we couldn’t store and consequently lost our own sense of home.
Mum has always found that hard to deal with, she’s never been able to display the fancy china (not that we ever really had any) or have the space for the stuff she cares about, none of us really have.
So, in a sense moving will hopefully give us that freedom and more importantly give my parents, especially mum, a chance to start rebuilding the collection of family heirlooms we’re missing.
For me, I’ll miss the familiarity the most. The sense of comfort this place has given me and the memories built around it. Like when I used to play catch in the driveway with my dad and the hours spent playing with the neighbourhood kids. This house has always been a point of consistency as things have changed, both in and around my life. It may’ve never been our home but it was a home. What I won’t miss is;
• The lack of air conditioning during the hot Australian summers.
• The lack of heat throughout the house during winter, some rooms are pleasant while others are bloody freezing!
• The old pipes and floorboards that groan.
• The broken, ugly linoleum and tiled floors.
• The tired, leaky roof.
• The temperamental, old wiring.
• The drafts that rattle doors.
• The way the foundation moves and makes the back door stick so it won’t open and close properly anymore.
• The dodgy, paint jobs that have been done to try and fix certain areas but never really worked.
• The ineffective gutters that overflow and cause one side of the house to look like a waterfall.
• Of course these are all superficial points.
The house is undeniably old, built in the 40’s I believe and has reached that point in its life when it needs some TLC. It would’ve been nice to do it all years ago; to renovate and give it a more youthful look, but conflicts within the family meant it never happened. I would’ve loved to have seen it when it was new, when the issues that plague it now were decades away. Mum tells me that the front yard used to be barren and over the years she watched as my grandmother turned it into a paradise. Sadly it doesn’t look that way anymore.
Thankfully it’ll get a second chance and it makes me happy to think that a family will fix it up and turn it their new home. To know that it’ll remain here for years to come gives me a feeling of relief because despite all its faults and problems it’s still a good, stable house and it deserves to have people who will look after it.
Maybe it’s because I’m terribly sentimental and get attached to things easily that I’m still blabbering on. I also realise this all might sound silly, but to know this part of my life is ending makes me want to share all of this, whether anyone’s still reading or not.
I hope that in my future I’ll have a family home of my own which is full of the things a family house should have. However, it’s still only the superficial things. What I really hope for is a home with the quirks I’ve come to love in this one. Sure I hate some of them, but without them it’s just four walls and a roof. I believe a house becomes so much more when it has character and flaws, it becomes like us. Imperfect, yet in our own eyes, perfection.
I guess, unintentionally, this blog has become some form of tribute and if you’re still reading please feel free to share your opinions and stories or maybe I’m just tragic and alone in the way I feel. All I do know is that I’ll miss house number 122.
Separate names with a comma.