Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Fear of a Blank Planet

Two blogs in one day. Anyone would think I'm avoiding something.

And maybe I am. Yesterday I got an idea for a new short story. I have a structure, I have a plot, I even have a small handful of characters, and yet I find myself delaying.

All writer's know the problem of the blank page, where to start, what to say, how to say it. It doesn't even matter if, as in my case, you know what you are going to write. The moment when you open a new screen, helpfully titled Document1, and set out to write the first words, is one of fear mixed with hope. The fear comes from having to create something new, something interesting, something which will speak to your readers. The hope comes from knowing that you have the whole of time and space - real and imagined - to play with, and an almost infinite combination of words to use in new and surprising ways to act as your method of exploration. And that's the second source of fear.

I blogged a while ago about the journey never being quite what you expected, and that being the joy of writing. But it's also the curse, because you have to forge the path yourself. And if your route goes off course, then you have no-one else to blame. At the moment before you type your first word - take your first step on the path - all is possible. But once you start to move, you don't know if you are heading anywhere near the right direction until you get to your destination.

And, of course, that is also an exciting thing. The lure of the unknown. This is a journey into territory that has never been taken before. The story you write will be a combination of words which has never existed before. You are weaving a fabric from threads of your own invention.

The only way to solve the fear, and to feed the excitement is to write, and the more you do it, the more the excitement overcomes the fear. But the fear never goes away, and if it did I think the writing might die.

So, anyway, diversionary-blog over, it's time for me to go and write. I have my machete, my compass, and a flask of water. I should be okay. See you on the other side.

PS. Blog title courtesy of Porcupine Tree by way of Public Enemy.

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