Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Thrill of the Blank Screen

I know, I know. You’re all saying, give her an award, her head swells, and she thinks she’s above mere blogging. Or she’s still partying.

Granted, it’s been 3 weeks since I last posted, but my excuse is that I can’t say no to non-profits. May is when all the reports are due both for my singing ensemble ( and my music fraternity (yea! Sigma Alpha Iota!). That means a total of about 22 pages, the size of a short story, so 3 weeks is about right.

But I’m back and I’ve begun a new book.

I hesitate to say that. I think most writers would agree that a new project has a higher chance of failure than a book that’s half done. Once I’ve invested a few months in a novel, I never want to give it up. I’ve put too much into the research and writing and long walks working out the plot. Starting out--that's another thing. A blank screen is scary and I know sometimes I need to get 5 chapters down before I can tell if an idea will go anywhere. Or, at least, anywhere entertaining enough that I want to devote 6 to 12 months to writing it out. So I sort of hold my breath through the first tenth of a book.

Yet beginning a new novel is also exciting. A new idea fills me with energy—I see all sorts of possibilities. If it’s a good idea, it will continue to feed my energy as I write. I’ll be anxious to get back to it. I’ll think about the book when I’m not writing. I know novel writing is essentially a marathon, so yes, I’ll have days when I can’t make something work, or when life interferes. I’ll get stuck. I'll get frustrated and grumpy. I’ll wonder why I didn’t listen to my mother and become a doctor (actually, the sight of blood and gore had a lot to do with that).

At this moment, though, I won’t dwell on that. I’m at the beginning. Like any new relationship or new diet, I think, this time will be different. I’ve learned from my mistakes. This will be easier. I can’t wait to throw myself into it.

This is one of the two reasons I write: the giddy almost-in-love feeling I get at the beginning of a project.

The other is the satisfaction I get typing “THE END.”


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