Part of a series of blog posts that chart my progress from couch potato to published author. See Perspiring Authors page for a sequential list.
I was off the couch, and finally on my feet again. But then came the tricky part — seating myself behind the keyboard and writing. What was the first issue? My blithe confidence was gone. Fifteen years ago, it had felt easy; words streamed off my fingertips. I even had proof: 200 pages of easy, stuffed in a cardboard box in my closet. But now I was paralysed with self-doubt. Just the thought of finding that first paragraph…hhhmm..perhaps I could just skip that part, and pick up where I left off in the old manuscript?
I read it.
Two things were instantly clear. I really liked adverbs back then. A lot. And I needed to start fresh, as my original plot about a virgin caught on a pirate ship felt a tad dated. Besides it didn’t fit the insistent voice whispering in my ear. I needed a new tale, one without sabres.
Also, I was aware of another issue that might prove to be a tiny hiccup on my path toward becoming the great Canadian writer.
I’d lost a large chunk of my vocabulary. Misplaced, forgotten, lost, I don’t care what you want to call it, but my language skills were as gone as my twenty-seven inch waist. Think of it as a case in de-evolution. I’d been a stay-at-home Mom for twenty years. The first crack started with Sesame Street, and by the time I knew all the words to The Wheels on the Bus, I was well on my way to mushy brain. My skill in description, and my ability to attach the right word to an object had eroded. When I wanted something, I’d point to it. It made things faster.
Well, there was no way out of it. I’d have to try to write and see if I could coax the words back to my fingers. As for worrying about coming up with interesting storyline, I decided to consult the experts. I went in search of a how-to book. In the store, I scanned the titles. Conflict and your Character? Writing Believable Motivation? Character Arcs? As I flipped through the books, my story concept began to feel like a tribble. It made interesting squeaking noises while balanced on my palm, but other than that, it was starting to look a hell of a lot like my Mom’s old faux fur throw rug.
Which left me back at home, without a manual, staring at the blinking cursor. To hell with it. I started writing. The words flowed, until I hit 10K and went splat. It just dried up overnight. I could not put another word down.
And at that, my brain said, ‘Sod you, Mate, this is too hard. I’m going back to the People magazine.’
Lesson from this? There isn’t always a straight path from concept to book completion. Be prepared for one or two roadblocks.