When I embarked on the audacious plan to finish my first draft by year end, or else… I was afraid that this would happen. After all, writer’s block has been a good friend of mine at the most crucial of times- unfortunately. So what other time should I expect him to come banging at my door, than when I decided once and for all that I would enter the realm of writing as an official author?
And so here we are, sitting side by side- him having visited days after I released an excerpt of my first draft for my book Leech into the world for critique. I admit, the release of the excerpt possessed a few oversights: the timing, the selection and perhaps most crucially, the choice of audience. And while I can’t say that the feedback was brutal, and while I can also admit that there were some bits that are extremely useful, something significant happened- I realised that negativity will always pop out of somewhere even after having given your best effort, and even despite your most genuine intentions.
Unprepared, and perhaps having been so engrossed and excited by the prospects of my work, somewhere during the feedback process I became timid and dreadfully afraid that I would have to scrap my work because it wasn’t right. And no matter the applause, nor the comforting words of ‘hang in there’ or ‘you can do it’ , I was filled with nothing else but doubt that maybe, just maybe, I couldn’t write this book- moreover, maybe after all, I couldn’t write. Within moments, I threw out my timeline, dashed my hopes and stopped writing, and I haven’t written a word since.
I’ve always loved Stephen King, and because he is so mainstream my love for him never really could explain itself as I am usually averse to things that enjoy too much popularity. But in all his fame, I have always found much solace in his words. Maybe it is his light humour, maybe it is his penchant for the gory and horrific, or maybe it is because he is simply a master of the English Language, who does not butcher it in his work, but instead dances beautifully with it to paint nothing less than a satisfying picture every time. Nevertheless, from the moment I read The Green Mile, I knew that Stephen King was my favourite author. Today, I found out why.
After I stopped working on my draft, I admit that I was very disturbed. Leech is a project that had stuck with my ever fickle mind for years, as though the story had to be told, yet here I was putting it down because I became afraid of the big bad naysayers of the world. Determined to start writing again, I began everything: reading, joining writing groups, heck, I even signed up for NaNoWriMo, and entered a few writing competitions just for kicks. I figured that at some point, the muse had to return.
Then I stumbled across a recommendation for his book On Writing. Quite frankly, I hate ‘How to’ books; absolutely despise them, but without thinking- and maybe because I was clutching at straws at this point about my writer’s block, I purchased the book. I can tell you right now that, mainstream or not, Stephen King is the man. First off, he had me by saying that he wasn’t about to tell anyone how to do anything, and I appreciated that, but the two pieces of advice that touched me deeply was that someone will always speak lousily about your work, and that you should never discard a piece of work because it becomes difficult or daunting. It sounds simple enough, I know, but I think it made me realise that even the greatest suffer through these tough times, so what makes me exempt of it? But as (introducing) the love of my life has said to me: the only thing separating me from Stephen King, is my trying. And hey, let’s not be crazy, I may not ever get there, but indeed it is my effort that will make all the difference.
So this is not a declaration that my block has been lifted. This is a humble acknowledgement of what went wrong in my process, and my determination to not let it affect my dream. Leech will be told, and I will tell it, and the negativity, which I have realised is immortal, will just have to tolerate my upcoming novel’s concomitant existence.
“STOPPING A PIECE OF WORK JUST BECAUSE IT’S HARD, EITHER EMOTIONALLY OR IMAGINATIVELY, IS A BAD IDEA. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO GO ON WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT, AND SOMETIMES YOU’RE DOING GOOD WORK WHEN IT FEELS LIKE ALL YOU’RE MANAGING IS TO SHOVEL SHIT FROM A SITTING POSITION” Stephen King