Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Starting the Next Chapter
My friend Patty posted this on Facebook today. And it is the perfect response to my "How do I get through this latest episode of writer's block?"
I edit as I write - and it is a curse. My writer friends sit through seminars and workshops, their hands sailing across white paper, slowly filling the lines with inky thoughts and useful freewrites. I execute a single opening sentence, then waste the rest of the time revising it. Editing. In some cases, censoring. (Um, are we gonna have to read these out loud?). Who edits a freewrite as they go? And still considers it a "freewrite"?!
Again with the life/writing-writing/life mirror, I know. But it's true -- you can't move forward if you are always looking back. And yet, at the same time, you can adjust the future by being aware of the past. And sometimes, every now and then, after you have moved forward, learned something new, added more words and images to your story, you can go back to a certain place, at a certain time, and delete that comma. Or combine those two fragments. Or, if you're really brave (or desperate), kill off that powerful hero you thought was going to triumph in the final sentence. Because you've glimpsed the future, and things look different as you move forward. Not better or worse, just different. Because "forward" is where hope is. Where possibility lies. Where all you've done and labored over exhales and expands into a stronger version of itself. Connected to its origin, but somehow uniquely itself.
And I don't know about you, but when it comes to writing and life, I would rather spend my time filling up the blank pages instead of trying to empty the ones that have already passed me by.