It’s good to feel really jazzed about writing again, instead of viewing it through the lens of discouragement proffered by those who have their own issues they want to make another’s.
I’m currently reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I’d read some piece of it way back in the day – for school, of course – and Franklin was an interesting guy living in most interesting times. The thought of having to be on a boat for three days (in a storm) to go less than 200 miles must seem incredibly strange to the youngest generation today, but I can picture it in my eye just fine. People tend to focus on one thing only – “Why didn’t he just ride a horse?”, for instance – and forget that things like roads were also not then what they are now, and the boat, even with the slight delay of a storm, would be faster than horses, which would need to be fed and rested, and so on.
I found this passage, where Franklin displays some regional bias, very amusing.
“There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins by name, with whom I was intimately acquainted. We sometimes disputed, and very fond we were of argument, and very desirous of confuting one another, which disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad habit, making people often extremely disagreeable in company by the contradiction that is necessary to bring it into practice; and thence, besides souring and spoiling the conversation, is productive of disgusts and, perhaps enmities where you may have occasion for friendship. I had caught it by reading my father’s books of dispute about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinborough.”
It seems Franklin did not think much of the men of Edinborough.
I had, almost two months ago now, given myself the goal of completing a first draft of the manuscript banging the most around in my head by the last day of June (starting at the first of April). What did I write between that first day and now? Nothing. Well, that is not entirely accurate: I did jot some scene-related things down on a few index cards, which will serve as my chapter guides. They are easy to rearrange if there’s a need to do it, so it’s functional as well as informative. I wrote five of them. The sixth is staring me in the face, with “chapter 6” at the top. This doesn’t mean the others will go in direct order first through five, but I took this as a positive step toward killing – or at least maiming – my demons and working myself into the fray of word-slinging.
Last year, I had written the opening chapter of this manuscript. It’s been sitting on a thumb drive, and just now, I resurrected it, did a couple of light editing things, and added some more content and context to it.
It is frightening. Not the book – there are many more very real and frightening things in the real world – but the mental part of making one’s way through the tentacles that threaten to grab you by the ankle and pull you down under the water to drown you in a sea of self-doubt and not-good-enough-itis. My hands are, quite literally, shaking right now that the writing is done. But I am thinking this will get better the more I am able to punch away at the walls built over so many years, graffiti covering them with sneering commentary. The demons may still be there forever, but as long as they continue to shrink, much like Alice, each day will not be an epic battle, but more like swatting the occasional annoying fly away.
Here’s to more days of productivity, and creating a viable routine that will get me through from page one to “the end”.
I can do without the god stuff at number eight, but number four….number four is my personal demon. It’s a voice that dates back decades thanks to – cover your eyes if you’re averse to foul language – a manipulative, condescending, hypercritical, alcoholic, emotionally abusive douchebag. Amazingly enough, although I thought I had put that person behind me, I realized while pulling weeds that the root of all of that gut-churning angst was those (formative, vulnerable) years growing up in a household with that constant hammering. They – the “they” we all know and love/hate – say the first step to tackling a problem is learning to identify the problem. It works in the tech world, in writing, in just living from one day to the next. The second step: working a way out. That’s the step that needs to be taken, the puzzle that needs a solution.