I don’t. I don’t give it the power it commands as a block—that foreboding, three-dimensional cube. Instead, I try to smooth out those edges and make it part of the writing process, part of the landscape of rolling hills of my ever-evolving writing life. Some hills are bigger than others. The road may take me around, or it may wind me up and around slowly.
It’s true, sometimes I feel as if I’m driving a luxury convertible—gracefully cruising those hills, pages practically writing themselves as I head for an evening of watching the sun set over the ocean with a cocktail in one hand and a tasty appetizer in the other.
This kind of flow is rare. I don’t own a luxury car, I don’t live near the ocean, and cocktails usually give me a stomachache. Most of the time I’m sitting here at my desk wondering what the hell ever made me think anyone would ever care about anything I have to say? Or what made me think this was actually a story? When the idea first emerged, it seemed to have legs, but now, as I stare at the the blank page, the characters seem flat and predictable, there’s no conflict, nothing.
Besides, I need to order an oxygen sensor for the car, find more people for the manuscript workshop; I never sent Marc a thank you note or did spring cleaning, my beads need to be sorted, my tee shirts aren’t color coded, and some of my file folders have right tabs instead of left tabs.
There are times when financial responsibilities, my health or friends and family demand most of my energy. These types of responsibilities never go away. Time goes by quickly and although taking breaks from a project can rejuvenate my zest for them, the passion for a project can wane the longer I ignore it.
Knowing I can’t ignore that first kernel of an idea, I tell all of those inner critics, “Oh, thank you. Thank you, fear, for trying to protect me from potential failure and potential success. I appreciate your concern, but this is something I want and need to do, so if you don’t mind—hell, even if you do mind—I’m going to put you in the back seat and drive you to the end of the road. If I have to hogtie you, gag you, and throw you in the trunk, I will.
I regret only what I haven’t done in life. No matter how bad I think my first draft is, it won’t leave me alone until I’ve written it down. And then the real fun of writing can begin—revision!