Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Blank Screen.

About three years ago I decided to see if I could write.

I sat down one morning and knocked out 800 words that I thought were reasonable. A few days later I knocked out another 1700 words or so on a second story. These were the first things I'd ever really written, apart from a 900 word university assignment I did about 8 years ago that ended up being published in a literary journal.

The second story was one that I was proud of, and I had a lot of great feedback from people whose opinions I value as being honest and worth listening to, and from a bunch of strangers in a workshop I undertook around the same time.

Of course both those stories went through a few re-writes, and both stories had 'almost, but not quite' rejections.

And now both those stories sit well over 4000 words. One will be published in Anywhere But Earth, the other is still looking for a home. But an editor has had it for four months now, and no news is good news. Right?

But after these two I didn't write for a few months.

I wanted to, and I had ideas, but I wasn't sure if I could replicate the quality of writing I felt I'd achieved first time out.  Sure, I tell my students that if they want to improve it takes practice, practice, practice. And I kind of know that's true for myself on a logical level. But whenever I sat down to write I lacked confidence in my own abilities and whether I'd be able to write anything others would be prepared to read.

Silly me.

Last week was a great week for writing. It rained most of the time, I had the house to myself, and I had ideas and looming deadlines.

So why did I spend so much time procrastinating on the first day before I actually attacked the keyboard.  Yup, I stared at the 'blank paper' on the screen and played cards on the computer far longer than I should have.  Those old self-doubts came back to haunt me.

But once I took the plunge, the words flowed really well. And I was really happy with what I achieved. I finished a complete story, rewrote another, and started a third.

Let's hope others like them too.

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