When “Goofing Off” Isn’t

I admit it. I’ve been slacking lately. Other than blogging, I’ve done very little work on my book or anything else of much value (except doing a bit of marketing stuff). Mostly I’ve been reading Gayle Greeno’s Ghatti books. They’re really good, but somewhat difficult to read (not exactly page turners like Erin Hunter’s Warrior books). You’d think I would be able to put them down easily enough, but I can’t. I wasn’t sure why until a couple days ago when my husband gave me a kick in the pants by asking me what he could do to help me get back on track with my writing. (That’s his way of begging for the next chapter to read. :D)

I began asking myself what, if anything, could my wonderful husband do for me. Suddenly I realized I had been hiding from the blank page, cowering in fear of what might come — nothing. It’s not a pretty thing to think of, yet it affects nearly every writer I’ve ever heard of. We fear the blank page. We fear we may not have anything “good” to put on it. If it’s not “good enough”, we wonder, should we even attempt sullying the page with ink?

Yes. We should. Let me repeat (again!) what Brenda Ueland says in her book If You Want to Write: it doesn’t matter.  She dares each of us to try to write the worst story we can because she believes even in the worst we can find great stuff.

On the bright side, I did discover something useful during my “goofing off” phase in Gayle’s books that I hope will help me write better. She has a wonderful efficiency in scene description. In a battle scene in the second book, Mind-Speaker’s Call, she doesn’t go into detail about how a ghatti was killed. She simply states that it’s skull was crushed and moves on to the next thing that happens. There’s no blood gushing, no screams of anguish, no minute descriptions of how a tail is severed. The battle just is. For me the scene felt a lot more shocking, disturbing, than if she had went into flowing detail. (Thanks, Gayle!)

It’s not a bad thing to stop and smell the wildflowers, so long as we’re not trying to hide from harmless shadows in the process, on The Road to Writing.


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