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Stop. Hammer Time.

December 6, 2012

This weeks blog post is sadly somewhat tainted by the bitter stench of failure, as it was meant to be my first stab at writing a short story. So, yeah. That’s not happening today. Instead I’m writing about not being able to write. This might be postmodern or ironic or something like that,  but that thanks to a combination of Alanis Morrisette and Bender from Futurama I’ve got no idea what is and isn’t ironic these days.  Though I’ve a good idea where that whiny mare can stick her ten thousand bloody spoons, and the bloody knife if she ever finds it.  Anyway, moving on. So what happened? Everything was going great, I was merrily chugging along getting words on the page (I was noting that the short story wasn’t turning out as short as I’d planned, but I wasn’t letting that bother me to much) when I hit a metaphorical brick wall, with a big meaty metaphorical thud. Within minutes I’d gone from typing away with gay abandon to just staring at the screen, crippled by indecision on the thorny issue of whether to start the next sentence with ‘The’ or ‘Then’. After about fifteen minutes I still hadn’t decided. I tried to move on to do a different bit of it but that was it. Nothing doing.

This was last Wednesday – I decided to leave it for the day and come back to it the next day. Thursday comes and I can’t bring myself to have another go as the thought of not being able to get past that brick wall really unnerves me. Friday comes and brings with it the same feelings, along with an added dose of doubt that what I’ve written so far is a load of great big hairy knackers and the story was going nowhere. The weekend comes and goes without much chance to have another stab at it and then Monday brings a winter bug and vomit based hilarity that steals even more of my time.   I start to think there’s no chance of getting things sorted out for my (entirely self-imposed and ultimately meaningless) Thursday deadline, and once these feelings start, a little voice in my head chirps up.

‘Best to scrap it now, before you waste too much time on it,’ whispers the little demon of doubt that lives in a little house in my bizarrely misshapen cranium. ‘Just write some shit about playing Blood Bowl or Magic: The Gathering,’ he adds. ‘As long as you add some cock jokes it’ll be fine.’

‘I dunno’ replies I.  ‘This was really rather the point of this whole blog thing, writing fiction and that’

‘Don’t be daft’ counters the demon.  ‘Do you even have an ending worked out for this junk you’re writing?’

‘Well… not totally worked out, I suppose…’ I’m forced to admit.

‘There you go, best to cut your losses and run, isn’t it?’ concludes the demon.  ‘After all, if you show people what you’ve written so far you’ll look like a proper idiot.  Almost as much of an idiot as you’d look if you posted an imaginary conversation between yourself and your self-doubt.’

Ahem. Did I listen to this little demon? Sort of. I’m not going to abandon the short story just yet, but I think I’m going to leave it for a couple of days then come back to it.  That time will be spent in taking stock of how it’s looking and trying to think the rest of it out clearly so I can hopefully write in a bit more of a focused and confident manner.  With a bit of luck if I follow the age-old principle of the 6 Ps – Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance – I might get something I feel up to putting in front of other human eyes.

This whole incident reminds me of something a friend of mine (who actually is a proper writer and everything) said once about how he copes with similar difficulty. ‘Time to get out the Word hammer’ was the excellent term he used. My interpretation of that is the Word Hammer is a heavy blunt instrument that is made up of the writer’s skill, determination, experience and sheer bloody-minded refusal to give up. When the text isn’t behaving itself, when it isn’t lying down in the proper order to make the lovely flowing prose in your head take shape on the page or when it just plain refuses to come out at all, it’s time to deploy the Word Hammer. It might be brutal, it might be painful and it might leave a trail of broken punctuation in its wake but the Word Hammer mashes, smashes and crushes the rebellious sentences into the right shape eventually. Now, my problem is that as a total noob and a clueless mook my own Word Hammer isn’t good enough to knock my way through my brick wall and bash my short story into line. In fact at this stage of my writing my Word Hammer is a tiny little thing barely big enough to break up Toffee, which has no chance of crunching 3,000 words of big hairy knackers into a form I can happily present to the public. I’m not giving up on the short story writing by any means, but unfortunately it might have to wait until I’m equipped with a bigger tool. Snurk.

So, what will next weeks post be? Hopefully it’ll be the short story or another bit of fiction – after all I’ve even set up the little menu thing on the header bar so it’s got a place to go an everything (and the hour and a half I spent working out how to do that was in no way me avoiding trying to write the story itself, honest). I’ll have to wait and see how that pans out. I’ve also been fancying writing a bit on Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom series including a review of the recent(ish) John Carter movie, So I’ll put that on standby in case that brick wall proves insurmountable at this time.  Either way, it’ll be here at the usual next week because these (entirely self-imposed and ultimately meaningless) Thursday deadlines can’t be ignored y’know.


From → Musings

  1. Looks to me like the makings–or perhaps all of–a short story are there right above this comment :>) I, for one, enjoyed it about the same!

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