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Living Loz
Words worth 1000 pictures... 
5th-Sep-2009 08:19 pm
Massive Fan
“A writer,” said Mann, “is a person for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.” How liberating that definition is. If any of you out there have ever been put off writing it might well be because you found it so insanely hard and therefore, like me, gave up and abandoned your masterworks early, regretfully assuming that you weren’t cut from the right cloth, that it must come more easily to true, natural-born writers. Perhaps you can start again now, in the knowledge that since the whole experience was so grindingly horrible you might be the real thing after all. Emerging into the Light

Well. Thank you, Stephen Fry and Thomas Mann. I'd like to say it consoles me. It doesn't, but I'd like to say it does.



I've been putting off writing. I've been putting it off since about, oh, early May. It's miraculous I somehow have five short stories posted during that period of time. I also have 5000 terrible words of Merlin fic and 5000 hopefully not terrible words of Psych fic. But. Every time I go to open up my word documents I find myself staring blankly at them for minutes, then watching another installment of a television show, and then staring blankly at them again. Repeat ad nauseum. It doesn't matter the time of day. It doesn't matter whether I have my handy glass of ribena next to me, or a full stomach, whether I've got paper on my desk scrawled with quotes and modified lines from other people's fiction. It doesn't matter if I wholeheartedly like the idea. If I even have an outline. The little grey cells, they do not work. The little pink fingers, they do not type.

I have forgotten how to write. I have forgotten how to write anything of substance. And perhaps I never had that second skill to begin with, but I used to fool myself into thinking I did, at the very least. Once in a while I would get an idea that would sustain me for more than five hundred words, and then I would actually complete it! It was a time of charm and beauty, when I would be up until four in the morning, or up at seven, tip tip tapping away.

As much as I would like to say that writing is so hard for me because I have some talent, I can't say I really think it's true. Writers write. They may not always write brilliance, but they do it! Words stream out of writers. Interesting words from an extensive vocabulary. Writers write scenes that show the march of progression in events, relationships, and time. They get to the deep, dark hearts of characters. They create witty lines and evocative description. Perhaps not all at once, and perhaps not all writers have success with all elements, but some, at least. Some of the time, some of the elements. Writers can interest, involve and engage readers' intellects, emotions and, for wont of a better word, souls.

And I can't do that. Any of that. I try and I fail.

Comments 
5th-Sep-2009 10:57 am (UTC)
Me too. :(
6th-Sep-2009 01:38 am (UTC)
:(

I hate it so very much.
5th-Sep-2009 11:13 am (UTC)
I have long periods of failing to write. The longest has been over a year. I've just, in the past few weeks, come off another couple of months of staring at the screen blankly until the computer goes to sleep mode, and then I stare at a black screen.

but recently, the first flickers of writing have returned, and I'm reworking an old original piece. not one, I hasten to add, which I expect anyone else to ever read - but still, I'm working! And then ficathon looms large, so I HAVE to write then. But deadlines are good for me. The last couple of days/hours will be my most producative. I need stress to write.

I have no idea if I have talent. Sometimes I think maybe I do, othertimes I am wracked with doubt, certain that it's all total drivel.

But I can't not write. I can't stop the voices in my head. So even if no one ever reads it, I know I won't stop writing.

xx
6th-Sep-2009 01:38 am (UTC)
I thought deadlines were good for me too, but I've not so recently massively failed on that account and I am trying to write a story that's miles past the line, with another one that needs to be written for the same --- and whilst I have an outline and 5000 words for one, the other I have nothing. nothing at all! and I feel like a cad. GAH.

I can't stop the voices in my head.

I used to get streams and streams of dialogue and I haven't had that since... some time last year. I don't believe in muses, but I think someone who does would say mine's gone on extended vacation.
5th-Sep-2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
You can write!!! It sounds like you're suffering from a prolonged bout of writer's block, combined with the natural desire for improvement which means that you can be critical about your own work and take other people's criticisms on board, destroying your confidence in yourself..?

Try writing something completely different, maybe? (What about an autobiographical 10,000 word doodad? In your not-so-long life, you've emigrated, and you've found a life-path which will affect people's lives. Two big things which not everybody does and which have ripples, repercussions and change you. And I think your abilities to be introspective and to write well mean you could do that well - so even if you do it as a writing exercise for you, and may not want to share it with other people, if you were to change your mind on that one, they'd be interested in reading it.)
6th-Sep-2009 01:35 am (UTC)
My life story can be summed up in 25 words or less, for serious.

Writing exercises don't seem to cut it, Miri, but thanks for the suggestion.
5th-Sep-2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
If it's any consolation, someone the other day assured me that the defining quality of a writer is the ability to write for nine hours with only tea and biscuits to sustain you.

IMHO the important aspect is caring about what you write. People who just fill up paper and think it's easy ... not writers.

I've just come out of 30 months of writers' block so I know how you feel.
6th-Sep-2009 01:34 am (UTC)
If it's any consolation, someone the other day assured me that the defining quality of a writer is the ability to write for nine hours with only tea and biscuits to sustain you.

And I used to do that! I'd forget to eat anything until, like, 9 pm when suddenly I'd realise I had done nothing since 7 am but write maybe 3000 words. (I am a slow writer at the best of times, I just used to spend a lot of time writing; unemployment, woo!)

I've just come out of 30 months of writers' block so I know how you feel.

Oh man. 30 months? I don't think I could handle that. Writing is what keeps me halfway sane.
6th-Sep-2009 02:10 am (UTC)
30 months? I don't think I could handle that. Writing is what keeps me halfway sane.

Me too. Want to take a guess what kind of state I was in by the end?
5th-Sep-2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
I'm where you are, pretty much exactly. And it kind of breaks my heart a little when I think back to how damn inspired I used to be. I mean, the actual process always came with difficulty (getting from Scene X to Scene Y, figuring out the exact word to convey my meaning, that kind of stuff) but the ideas were always there. And now - not.

And perhaps I never had that second skill to begin with, but I used to fool myself into thinking I did

Hmm. Maybe you should take yourself off and reread Palimpsest. Or the Decembrists (Decemberists?). There is no way a writer without insane levels of talent could produce that sort of stuff. Actually, do you read your back catalogue?

It'll come back, I'm sure of it. In my case, I think there's an element of fear in that now I have a standard to live up to, along with a feeling of 'done that now' that detracts from my motivation to get things done. So that when I'm writing, I find it hard (impossible) to carry myself through the difficult finicky bits because I'm not quite convinced there's any point. I've no idea if your problems are similar, just thought I'd ramble pointlessly share in case it's of any use. :)
6th-Sep-2009 01:27 am (UTC)
Or the Decembrists (Decemberists?).

On deeper reflection I actually really hate what I did with Sam at the end of that story and its implications. (It just. I had creeper vibes about power politics than I really meant at the time, I think, and since it was a story about Sam being stripped of power in the first place - ack, ack. I hate that Sam was so reliant upon Gene --- and then Gene's confession/the very conclusion rings totally false because it wasn't built up enough.)

I hated that there really should have been another part and I knew that at the time, but I wimped out. Hated that I didn't do more with Leonard, with the bomb plot, with the other characters. So rereading that one just brings me a boatload of 'FAIL. YOU FAILURE. YOU FAIL FAIL FAILED.' Same thing applies to 'Put Away Childish Things', where I just go "... but we're missing half of Sam and Gene's relationship. Why is Sam so very cut up when we don't see what's so great about him and Gene together?"

So yes. I reread. And then I hate myself even more.

In my case, I think there's an element of fear in that now I have a standard to live up to, along with a feeling of 'done that now' that detracts from my motivation to get things done.

Yup. I've always suffered that 'done that now' problem. I am not a writer who particularly enjoys telling the exact same story over and over again --- which I think is kind of obvious from the number of different types of stories I've written. But I've got to a point with LoM, at least, where I have written so many conceivable stories within my comfort zone (short/tiny though they may be), and once or twice out of it. The only story I really want to tell is freaking huge and there's no fucking way I'll get to it with how I feel about my writing. So. That's it. Commentfic I fear is the best you'll get out of me for the next [x] or so years. And this mentality has somehow spilt into any other fandom and original fiction.

Edited at 2009-09-06 01:29 am (UTC)
9th-Sep-2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
Argh. Failboat, I am on it for only LJing intermittently and not reading this sooner.

*hugs you, and then hugs you some more*

You know, for all I'm happy that I'm sorta kinda making a living writing, what I'm actually doing is a lot of research-based writing. Which requires skills, of a sort, but not the kind of skills you're talking about. And it's kind of upsetting to me that I haven't done that sort of writing in ages. And that when I did do it, I was incredibly lazy about it---pretty much only riding things out when I had a geyser of Ideas (with a capital "I," natch) pushing up through the top of my head and spraying all over my keyboard. I think I've mentioned before, there's a reason why I don't do multi-part stories...and why, when I do attempt them, I generally don't finish---no matter how great my intentions may be. I am horribly undisciplined, which is another reason why what I'm getting paid to do is great for me---topics are supplied, I just have to find the research to fit and write a fairly small amount of verbiage based on my findings. Editorial approval, end of story.

There are forums for other people who write there as well, and some of them talk about how they write under pen-names and have to take special effort to distance themselves from their finished product, because once it's approved, it's not ours anymore. And it kind of disturbed me to realise that I never was attached to mine. It's a mechanical thing, really---on the one hand, I love doing research, but on the other, it's almost a sort of laziness, too...in a strange sort of way.

But you...you're just...well, see, the thing is, I don't even know what to say here. No matter how much any of the rest of us tell you we think your writing is brilliant, it's not a patch on what goes on inside your head, is it? It never is. You'll doubt yourself no matter what, and sometimes, those doubts will spur you on to greater heights. Sometimes, they'll stop you dead in your tracks. All I can say is, I hope for your sake (and I won't lie, for ours as well, as readers) that there are more days of the former than the latter.

Because you really are quite good. Although...do you think that, in any way, the pressure of expectation of others gets to you at all? I'd hope not, but I have no idea. :)

*hugs you again + passes you some tea*
9th-Sep-2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
Although...do you think that, in any way, the pressure of expectation of others gets to you at all? I'd hope not, but I have no idea.

Yeah, of course it does.

That's partly my problem. I like being popular. I like the attention. So sometimes I don't want to go the hard yards to get the attention and that's when I hate myself. When I realise I'm shortchanging my ideas, my creativity, simply for quick comments. But without that attention, I wouldn't write anything at all. So it's a double edged sword. I don't only write for myself. I've got my imagination for that. I don't need the words on the screen when I can have them scrolling in my mind. If I'm going to write, I want to think there's an audience, even if it's only one other person --- and certainly I've written quite a few stories for niche audiences and enjoyed myself doing so. But that was different, somehow. I wish I could figure out how.

9th-Sep-2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
*nods*

That makes a lot of sense.

You could always turn this into a farce, you know. Break out the Tristram Shandy a bit as a way of distancing yourself from (and yet gaining insight into) this situation? :D
9th-Sep-2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
I totally get you! This kind of writing, the fun kind--it's hard to force. It's not like work writing or school writing where you have to get it done and turn it in, or else--until it is (like for fic fests!). Sometimes I just push myself to get through it, because the deadline, she looms--and I'm pretty tired of it at the end but then it feels good, because people read it and like it. (Obvs, if they don't, they don't tend to comment, but you know.) People read it and like it and tell me about it. And that makes the pushing worth it for me, because yeah, you write for yourself--but that can be writing to get feedback that'll encourage you to write more and to write something you like better, next time, yeah? :D

Also--5,000 words of psych sounds REALLY awesome right now. If you want anyone to talk to about it, I'm your fan. ♥
13th-Sep-2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
See, now, I am fairly sure you're a Shawn/Lassiter kind of person, and this is Shawn/Gus, but thank you anyway.
14th-Sep-2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
Aw, that's okay! I'm absolutely a Shawn/Lassiter type but you know, I would brave the Shawn/Gus. For you. ♥
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