She was furious and I did not know why. My occupation is my choice after all – if I don’t feel happy putting “Writer” under occupation, then that’s my business not hers. A while later I understood my mistake: without realising it, I had scribbled over her subtle affirmation of my dream and shoved her support of my efforts back down her throat. Another moment to be ashamed of passed by. Another moment of regret added to the stack that never seems to get any smaller no matter how hard you try. A quick snatch of the pen and a messy stroke of black ink and I had once again denied my own dreams and stuck a knife through my loves token of support. I really wonder if I am going to be this bloody stupid all my life.
In all honesty and a little in my own defence, writers write and I have done almost none of that in at least six months. Oh I can come up with a lot of excuses – some may even be valid – but my confidence in any ability to one day become a real writer took some beating last year. I’ll not bore you with the details, but the ultimate cause of death turned out to be that I am in no way a pantser. Romantic notions of sitting down in front of a blank page and churning out 100k+ words of coherent prose, plot and promise without any supporting outlines and effort is simply that… romantic drivel. I am sure that there are some people in the world who can do this but I obviously cannot. I wrote myself into so many dead ends, obtuse tangents and weird corners that everything I had written was laughable and in some instances not even worth keeping in a cardboard box in a dusty attic of a forgotten barn somewhere. It was a knock-out blow that made me embarrassed to even contemplate writing let alone being referred to as a writer and everything else went downhill from there – the usual things that us wannabes have to deal with – doubt, depression and a simple lack of any passion to continue.
The realisation that I was not a pantser is without a doubt a good thing and I should have been able to move on from there but it took a while to accept that I would more than likely have to trash almost 2 years work. Gulp. My next hurdle was that I began to doubt my ideas and world-building – sure, I accepted that the actual writing was rubbish and that I needed to put something like an extended outline together before I did anything new but I had hoped that my general story would be worth saving. In my panic and looking as one does to others for advice, I took to re-reading the various writing guides I have gathering dust on my bookshelves… Books from Maass, Lamott, Novakovich, King, Bradbury, Card (published years before his recent ranting) and others. The more I read, the more I realised that I had, in my enthusiasm to write, totally ignored the theory, recommendations and blatant “this is how you shouldn’t do it” advice from real writers. Things that I had read and understood months/years before. I then realised that I put very little thought behind what I was writing beyond the actual scenes and whatever ideas flowed directly from my fingertips onto the page… I naively assumed that understanding the concepts I would somehow build themes, plot, foreshadowing, pace, structure automatically in my work as I free-wrote my first book. Stupid. I’ll say it again… Stupid. No other word for it.
I am almost over the doubt and have just finished reading a new book to help with outlining by K.M. Weiland. Never having read any of her novels, I have no idea if she is any good as a writer, but her advice seems sound and matches other guides. More importantly, her book has helped me understand that there is nothing wrong with discovering you are an outliner and it has given me some starting points to work from that should help me figure out what would be the best approach for my own writing.
Here is to hoping I can get over my doubts and write again soon. And hopefully this is good enough for an apology, in a roundabout way. Sorry love.