……..I go through the same process – I have an amazingly brilliant vision of the whole story (as seen from a distance); I start to put it down on paper and it dissolves like cotton candy on the tongue; I freak out and feel insecure about the tripe I’m writing; I console myself with multiple cups of coffee and tell myself not to worry about it; by the time I get 65 to 75 thousand words in, I wonder where the hell I’m going to pull another 20 to 30 thousand from; by the time I’m at 80 to 90 thousand words, I’m metaphorically pulling my hair out by the roots, feeling like Elsa Lanchester from The Bride of Frankenstein (1935); when I finally crack and/or surpass the 90,000 words mark, I feel like I went through a triatholon – three times.
I tend to do the same thing when I’m developing my character in whatever play I happen to be performing in at the time. Or the painting and sketch classes I’m taking. And it’s a process that I will endure when I finally focus on learning how to play the violin. I’m also currently at the Elsa Lanchester stage of my current novel in progress. It’s not pretty. If you have a creative person in your life, chocolate is a good choice in keeping the peace. Or hot cocoa.
What this means for me is that I’m wrestling past the obvious and mundane and aiming for the truth of the character, the story or the subject. So if you find yourself feeling frustrated with an art piece or a story or music, try not sweat it too much. What’s happening is that the goal you have in mind has a path far different than the one you had planned. That creative instinct we all have inside us is also the instinct that will push us further than we think possible. Trusting it is trusting yourself.
Creating, my friends, is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. But it’s a heck of a ride and a ton of fun to do. I can’t not write – for me, it’s another way of breathing. As Anais Nin once said, “Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
Henry Miller on Writing – Henry Miller
Living and Sustaining a Creative Life – Sharon Louden
Editor’s Note – this blog post is con-currently published on Citizens Journal Ventura County.