Monday, June 20, 2011

No Guts, No Glory!

Writing is one of the most individual pursuits you can undertake. You can join a writing group, participate in online communities, go to conferences, hang out in coffee shops and bookstores - but in the end the battle is a lonely one - you against the blank page.

Some days, the blank white screen seems to fill with words as if by magic. Others make you feel as if each word drains a bit more blood from your body, sapping your will to carry on. Writing is a constant challenge - and like Sysiphus, it matters not how well we did the day before, because each morning we are met anew with a blank page, and we must shoulder that rock and start pushing.

Yesterday, I had a scene that needed reworking. I had been avoiding it because I had already rewritten it twice and it just wasn't working. I went to my regular weekly writing group and did my damnedest to avoid that scene. I succeeded for nearly two hours - dragging my fellow writers into my own petty procrastination with witty conversation and distracting game playing. Finally, through subtle hints and kindly pressure, my fellow writers made it clear that they were done entertaining my insecurities and I had to face the scene.

Of course, to my mortification, the scene came easy.

It spooled out of my fingers like a fine silk scarf pours from the bureau drawer. I felt like a real ass for having avoided it so long. It was like I had finally worked up the courage to charge over the trench into the skirmish to discover that my buddies who had all gone over before me had ended the battle and there was no-one left to fight.

That is the last time I am the last man out of the foxhole!

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