A Path to Publication, pt 14: Letting it sit

“Write blog post” has been on my to-do list every week for about four months now. But that task — which isn’t really a task because I love it really — somehow always gets pushed down the list (maybe the fact that it brings in no money or isn’t beating its sister over the head to get my attention has something to do with it). But today I come here, although I  have other work I should be getting on with, because I need a distraction. From an essay.

This essay, sitting just a click away behind that blue “W” at the edge of my desktop, is eyeballing me. It keeps saying, “Open me! Look at me again. Change a few lines here and there. This time you’ll get it right. This time it will be brilliant.”

This essay, for which the Muse finally decided to show up last week at 4 one morning after I had been begging her to for a couple of months, is the worst thing I’ve written in a long time. It might be THE piece of writing that finally convinces me never to write another word, to save the world from my drivel.

So, why do am I driven back to it over and over again? Because I need to see if maybe, this time, this revision (…if I move this paragraph down there, add this phrase here, put a transitional sentence there…) all the pieces will suddenly come together into a perfectly flowing, clever, inspired, inspiring, eloquent masterpiece.

But, like an avocado, its perfect moment of ripeness may not be when you’re wanting to make the guacamole. Avocados and essays tell you when they’re ready.

I know how this is supposed to work. As Anne LaMott told me to, I write a “shitty first draft,” then leave it alone. For a couple of days or weeks. Couple of weeks?! I can’t seem to let it sit for more than a couple of minutes. It’s like the kids’ Halloween candy which, because I’m a good mother, I hide in the cupboard so the kids don’t eat too much at once. I try oh, so hard, to not go near it. But it calls to me. Eeeeeeeeeeeeat meeeeeee. I’m here and I’m yuuuuuuummeeeeeee. My essay, on the other hand, sounds like this: Fiiiiiiiiiiiiix meeeeeeee. I’m here and I’m teeeeeeeerrible.

And it’s not like I don’t know that if I do leave it alone, Muse will eventually deem to do her job and wake me with the birds a few mornings from now. Then I’ll stumble to my office in the dark, denying myself even a cup of coffee before I start tapping away. Or I’ll be in the shower and Muse will rise with the steam and I’ll have to jump out naked and rush dripping to the computer because: “Eureka!” I’ll have it — the one puzzle piece which I needed to pull the writing together into a beautiful work of art.

But I’m impatient. I want it perfect now. I want my masterpiece. I want Muse to put on her big girl panties and deal with it now. Because I don’t like this feeling that I’m a crappy writer. I want to know I am a good writer again. Right now! I want guacamole now.

Hmmm, I guess I need to put on my big girl panties. Art cannot be forced. I must learn to be patient. So I’ll let it sit… and maybe go searching for some stashed candy instead…


One thought on “A Path to Publication, pt 14: Letting it sit

  1. check out the book, on writer’s block. the first section talks about blocks- but not in their negative.. but rather as a way to reconsider both the block, and what it is saying- telling the writer. it also goes into the nature of creativity, and re blocks being a result of disruption or dishonouring the inner creativity- nutshell. some interesting info. happy to loan my copy if you’d like to take a look at it:)


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