Famous writer Ray Bradbury said if the writing doesn't come easy, you're doing it wrong. If it's not working, do something else. He also said that writing is hard and revising is a big expenditure of effort, requiring blood, sweat, and tears. So which is it, Uncle Ray, is writing hard or easy? Is editing not writing?
I can't speak for how Uncle Ray edited (he's passed away, God bless him; may he rest in peace), but at least the pattern I've gotten into is this. I'll write a rough draft of something and it'll be fairly short, but the basic story will be there in bare bones. But then when I go into edit it, I realize that I haven't really gotten to the heart of the real story, and so small things which I had written with ease will become more complicated, because I'm taken the psychology of the characters seriously and what they're after seriously, and that requires more than a facile dashing off of words.
That's also when I become sensitive about the work. Everything feels delicate. It's like I'm in a porcelain shop with narrow walkways and my shoulder's bumping every Billie-size piece so I have to move slowly because I don't want to break anything.
Here's a confession. You like confessions, right? This piece is going up on Sunday, I believe, my time Sunday, but I am, right now, writing it on Wednesday at two minutes till 3 PM. One minute till now. I gave over about an hour to revising a work of short fiction, but I don't get very far, because I had to go over the first bit again. I basically added nothing past the first bit that I already wrote. I don't know that this is a good idea, but like I said earlier, I'm afraid about proceeding. I even know what has to come next. I even know that if I foul up writing the next bit that I can just rewrite and rewrite until I get it right. I know that this is always how it goes.
We're not getting any younger. These stories are important not because I regard them as great art but just because I like making something so good. I can brag here. I can be proud of what I've done. I can confidently talk about making something good, because up until this point, what I have written in the story is good. But the story isn't finished and what matters is not a fine portion but a fine story. My perfectionism, my tendency to persistently tinker, and my obsessiveness is holding me back, or so I feel.
I'll tell you what it really is. I'm getting in my own way. To do anything well, you have to be in more or less a flow state. If while playing your guitar, you're thinking about where your fingers are placed on that fretboard, you're going to get in your own way and play funky. You want to be in a state where you're fully conscious and present but not self-conscious. Self-consciousness spawns fear and doubt and that kills the creativity. You have to be on a kind of autopilot. The stream of consciousness must flow. Now, that's easy for me to do with something like this, where all I'm doing is typing a blog entry and making tons of spelling and grammatical mistakes, and it's not an assignment, and it's not for anything, so it doesn't matter if there are errors. (The only thing I occasionally regret is the lack of clarity there might be here, which would make this too tough to read, and for that I apologize. That, I don't like.)
I'm doing my best but I'm not going to live forever and I'd like to see, in my life, two books published under my name by me, one work of fiction, one nonfiction. I even have the tentative titles for these books. But so far in my life, for these two prospective projects, I have only published what I count as one piece for one of those books. Now I'm working on a piece for the other book project, and I've got two more pieces on the back burner, partially finished, which I would like to get to eventually.
Sorry for speaking so vaguely, not giving away any details about what I'm writing, but I'm superstitious about the stuff. I don't want me to talk about what I'm writing to be a substitute for what I want to just write, although this here, this writing, is sort of my way of distracting myself and keeping myself from doing the work I was intending to do. I'll try to have another cup of coffee and get back to it.
Piper at the Gates of Dawn is an experimental psychedelic album by Pink Floyd. I had never heard of it before I had listened to it this morning (my time on Wednesday) while my wife and I were eating lunch. My wife liked the album at first, I thought it was okay at first, and then it just gets weird and too experimental with these protracted string plucks and flute sounds and kazoos and stuff and it just mostly turns into what sounds like jamming on drugs with no mind to the audience's enjoyment. At the very least, my wife and I were no longer entertained.