Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Voices Begone!

Today I am suffering from a major case of the writer’s blues. Struggling with thoughts of, will I ever write anything again? I am suffering the aftermath of Inner Critic, who was on patrol all weekend doing a number in my head. Every time I took pencil in hand and put that pencil to the page, said pencil remained motionless. Inner Critic had a field day with this. So you think you can write it snarled at me sarcastically. “Yes,” I replied, apprehensively. Inner Critic immediately jumped on the hesitant reply and in an attempt to crush what little resolve I had left, reminded me of all the unfinished projects I have tucked away in a yellow binder. Not to mention the hours wasted dawdling and procrastinating over said projects.

Why are there three unfinished projects in what has become the infamous yellow binder? I started each one of these stories with such enthusiasm. The first 5000 words could not wait to leap onto the page. Then with virtually no warning, the pace changed, it became sluggish. A short while later when I attempted to add an historical event, unfinished story number one came to a crashing halt. I had eagerly begun searching for the details of this historical event. Thinking it would just take a few quick clicks of the mouse to get the facts I needed. How hard could it be? I ended up searching for hours. I needed the date, time and venue where a prominent politician of the day had given a speech. A street, a square, a hotel, anything but I couldn’t pin it down. Trying a different tact, I searched for the content of the speech. No luck there either. This information is important only in the context of the times the story is set. I should be able to move on with the rest of the story but I was stuck because this bump brought Inner Perfectionist to the fore. Inner Perfectionist insists another word cannot be written until the information is found. Having roused Inner Perfectionist, Inner Critic now had competition and became louder and more insistent. Inner Perfectionist says I cannot move along with the story until I get my facts right. Inner Critic says I cannot move on with the story because I cannot write. And so the characters of story number one languish in the abyss known as the yellow binder.

Inner Perfectionist has also regulated Story number two to the yellow binder. I needed the layout of a ship, the date it departed from Cobh and the day it arrived in New York in the late 1950’s. Once again, I mistakenly thought this information was only a few quick mouse clicks away. It has taken me six months to find the dates of this particular crossing. I still have not found information on the fares or the layout of the ship. A writer really does need to know where the characters are actually hanging out. I could make up a ship, but Inner Perfectionist is appalled by the very idea of this. Inner Critic laughs, exuding a, you have to be kidding me attitude.

Story number three is a flashback story. The main character is looking back, trying to figure out how she got to the dark ugly place she now inhabits. She is just about to open a letter. Inner Perfectionist raises her interfering little head and asks, what is in this letter exactly? How is it addressed, give me the wording. My mind goes blank. I cannot for the life of me get the wording of this letter past Inner Perfectionist. Inner Critic says; look if you can’t even write a letter what makes you think you can write a story. I grow tired of being badgered, so into the yellow binder goes story number three joining its fellow uncompleted projects.

Even as I write this Inner Perfectionist and Inner Critic are chitchatting away in the background. Inner Perfectionist is appalled at the phraseology of this piece. Inner Critic scoffs, you call this writing, are you joking me, this is just a load of rubbishy ramblings. No one will read this. It would bore anyone to death. Well I am finally answering back. I am not as concerned about whether anyone reads this, as I am about actually writing it and breaking the block. Is that silence I hear? It seems the only way to silence the bullies is to just write, even if it is only rubbishy ramblings. Otherwise, the bullies in your head win! And we can’t have that now can we? Oh and I am going out later today to buy a new binder. I think florescent pink might be the thing. I have gone off yellow.


siobhan said...

While the bullies are off-guard, I think you should sneak those three stories into your new pink folder: and revisit (in your own time)what sounds like the makings of three very good stories! x.

Ann said...

I do believe Pink is the colour. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Nothing the bullies hate more than confidence!

Barbara Scully said...

Hi Ann.... loved this post. You capture very well the trials and tribulations of any creative endevour. Being creative really involved putting yourself out there... and that is what is hard.

But you know what, I think that by identifying and naming your inner demons you are well on the way to seeing them for the troublemakers they are.

One of the best things I have learned on my personal healing journey is that the chatter that goes on all the time in my mind IS NOT ME! You clearly know that already. It is also worth remembering that you can learn to control your mind - where all these messers live. So the next time you hear Inner Perfectionist or Inner Critic or Inner anything else that is not helpful, mumbling on, tell your mind clearly to shut up. Tell them you are not listening. It will be in that gap - that perfect silence that you will tap into all the creativity of the real you! And you will take out your stories and complete them brilliantly.

In the meantime keep writing! And keep blogging. It is great to share and learn from each other!!!

x b

Niamh Griffin said...

Those voices are such a PAIN in the behind. We all have them and sometimes they really do rule the roost. But as you wrote such a great description of how frustrating writer's block can be maybe you can see that you're not really blocked just focused on the wrong things. Natalie Goldberg has written two Great books about the writing life: Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones.
You'll feel so inspired after reading them!

Ann said...

Thanks Niamh, I have Writing Down the Bones, but not Wild Mind. I will have to search it out tomorrow in Borders. Pen on Fire is my book at the moment. Have you read that one?