Friday, December 19, 2008


Being a writer is amazing. And a nightmare.

I recall reading a brilliant quote from Gene Fowler long before I started writing my book: “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” I laughed my ass off when I read that; I’m not laughing anymore.

Here’s my typical writing process:

1) I acknowledge that I either a) want to write something, or 2) have to write something. (These are two wildly different experiences.)

2) I allow that aching feeling to occupy my entire being, day and night, for hours, days or weeks, never writing a single word.

3) I decide that I absolutely, positively MUST write something toot sweet or I’ll go plum loco.

4) I open MacDaddy and stare at a blank screen. For hours. (Actually, most of it is spent switching back and forth from the blank screen to Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Google News, The Onion, and any other delectable distraction.)

5) If I am in public — like I am now — I’ll eventually close my eyes and rest my head in surrender. If I am at home, I’ll typically do some yoga, hula hoop, or play the piano. (I think it would draw a bit too much attention if I started hooping or dropping into Downward Facing Dog in the seating area of Whole Foods. Those granola-munchers are open-minded, but even they have their limits.)

6) Once I totally relax and let go of the “need” to write, something magical happens. A space develops in my head (or more precisely, my heart) that allows the right words to flow effortlessly through me. There is an ecstatic union of Spirit, the English Language, and my own vision. The words, sentences, and paragraphs come flooding out, each one juicier than the last and full of the Mojo. When it’s complete, I read through my creation with a delightful sense of satisfaction. Hmmm…. if I still smoked, I’d have a Capri Ultra Light Menthol afterward; it’s THAT good.

Unfortunately, at this exact moment I’m caught somewhere between steps 3 and 4. THEY SUCK ASS. It’s the nightmare part of the writing process, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about.

Luckily, I got a little inspiration while listening to my ‘Emma-friendly Playlist’ from iTunes. A song from Angelique Kidjo called “No Worry” started to play, and a particular line jumped out and slapped me across the face: “If you never feel pain, then you never know love.”

How true. I’m deeply in love with writing, and part of that love requires me to squirm in agony before I surrender to it. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll be able to jump from step 1 to step 5 without the headaches or heartaches. Frankly, I doubt it. It’s not worth waiting to find out.

Gotta go. My literary lover is calling out to me.

Back to step 4.

No comments: