It's been six weeks since I finished my Masters, the Masters that helped me create the soon-to-be-debut-novel I'm now working on. Only I'm not working on it. I'm thinking about it a lot, but thinking ain't writing. Mia Gallagher once said to me it doesn't matter if you're not writing, your brain is working out the kinks. Perhaps? But we all know writers write.
Not that I'm not writing, I am. Online magazine content, freelance articles, pitches for new projects, sales copy for clients, a rewrite of the intro on my website, there is an endless list of things I can write every day that are not my novel and I'm getting stuck into each one; for God's sake, I even started this blog! I'm using writing to distract me from writing? Is there a name for this condition?
The voice at the back of my mind, the wee voice that screams WRITE, is getting louder. He's not totally pissed off just yet but he's getting there. My voice is a man. Some years back I read a book that suggested it's best to give your critical voice an identity, preferably the identity of an accomplished editor, so you can ensure whatever he or she is screaming at you is something of use.
This critical voice is paramount because if it's encouraging, the words come; they made not be good words but they're allowed fill the page. If the voice is too critical, the words never become ink. That's what's going on with me lately. I look at the words I produced for my dissertation and the words I'm now putting on the page and I feel like I've regressed.
What I forget is that weeks of work went into editing that dissertation and there has to be words on the page in order for me to edit. I'm trying hard not to censor myself but still, I cut myself off.
I read over what I've written in the last week and my professor's words come tumbling into my mind. 'Trite.' 'Vacant.' 'Pointless.' OK, so that last word was mine, but that's what I think now when I read over my words. How on earth am I going to make this into something I'd allow someone else to read?
When I first read that advice about the critical voice it was some years ago and I selected a hip editor from a New York magazine - I think his name was Harry - and he guided me though some months of writing. Unfortunately, it was so long ago - maybe six years - the only thing I remember about him is his first name.
I need a new critical voice, one that encourages me instead of shutting me down. I want to put words on the page but the ideas simply are not coming. Another piece of advice I picked up says that if you've lost your way in the story, go back to where it was flowing and write from there. I tried going back but it just brought me up to the same point. So I'm writing this blog and slowly losing my mind.