A Worm in Dust

I admit – I’m tapped out. Wandering in the desert. Since my last novel went nowhere, I can’t convince myself to write another. I don’t even have the strength to question why it went nowhere.

I love to write. I love to play with words, watch them create an image, a person, an event. Words are like magic, making something out of nothing. How can I give that up?

Will I no longer write?

I’ve given myself six months since my realization that the novel was going nowhere. During that time, I’ve haunted my local library for books of my genre. I’ve read almost a book a day, trying to understand what successful authors have created that is so different from my creations.

There is no epiphany.

This is as close as I’ve been to giving up in…forever. What irony that I wait all my life—settle the issues of love and marriage, sex and children, career and financial security. Wait until I can afford to sit at a desk all day devoting myself to fiction. And then this.

What I see are successful female authors who are half my age. Living with husbands and children, dealing with households and pets, and still managing to write bestsellers. Who are these women?

I’ve never believed that anyone can’t do anything he or she decides to do.  Until now.

I’m starting to believe it. I’m starting to think that none of us can do many different things over the course of a lifetime and do them well. Maybe there’s a magical point in our younger years when memory, intellect, talent, and drive can foster success whereas in later years, enough of those elements have eroded to the point that no matter the dedication and enthusiasm, success simply won’t come.

Can’t come. Like making a chocolate cake with only one egg and half the chocolate.

Or maybe there was always an underlying awareness that I didn’t have fiction writing in me and all those years of other pursuits were excuses so I didn’t have to face that truth. Maybe it’s always been a hidden reality that whatever fantasy I might have had about writing hard-hitting stories, it was always a fantasy.

Maybe it’s that even now, I can’t let myself go into fictional worlds and tell compelling stories because I’m too rooted in daily reality. Yeah, that’s it.

Or despite undergrad and post grad workshops in writing, I just never quite learned enough. Never had the right feedback. Never understood what I was doing wrong.

I can’t not write. But I can write trivial little short stories with characters that never fully develop. There’s no hero’s arc there, no tangled plot where everything comes clear at the end. I don’t even like heroes and their journeys through predictable challenges, setbacks and ultimate triumphs. Maybe that’s why I can’t write them.

There’s also the fact that I never could plan more than two or three moves ahead in chess. I was a horrible chess player. If you can’t plan past two or three moves, pawn, queen or whatever, you can’t plot a fucking novel.

It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter what kind of outline or guide I might follow, what inner voices shouting to find their way to the page. Scenes I hold close to my heart, waiting for expression.

I can’t plot my way out of a paper bag. I see characters. I see suffering and pleasure and circumstances. But tying it together into a layered plot? FAGETABOUTIT.

So, there it is. My reality spread out in words in front of my face. Is it true, or is this a bad mood blog on an isolated day of a very hot and depressing July?

I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.

~~~

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2 thoughts on “A Worm in Dust

  1. Seems like you just need time to figure out what to write. Once you get that down, the when and how will come right along, snap snap.

    As you mentioned, writing what you like is better than hacking away at what you don’t.

    Writers write, even if they need a break periodically.

    Like

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