Day Ten: 19,041 of 50,000 words
When I catch myself researching how to write something, I know I’m in trouble.
I just caught myself researching how to blog.
The last few nights, between catching up on the blog and writing fiction, it’s the fiction that’s won. And for the last few nights, I’ve been able to justify that. I mean, writing is the point of the blog too, right?
No, I’m just stalling. Because I still really suck at this blog thing.
You should see the stack of writing books I have at home; it’s maybe half of how many I’ve borrowed or read in the bookstore or lent out and never got back, but it’s still too many. I spent the last decade plus researching how to write, what to write, what it’s like to write. I “know” so much about the writing process, and I know next nothing, because with the exception of NaNoWriMo each year, I’ve been just a practiced writer. (Part of why I’m doing these 12 novels.)
What drives me the craziest is how brilliant I am when I’m not near anything to write with. I compose the most informative blog posts, the wittiest dialogue, the most active battles when I’m washing dishes at my work at the end of the day or making coffee to sip while I write. Then I get to the keyboard and try to type it out just how I heard it in my head…
And it comes out all wrong. The idea has gone away or the words don’t come out right. I sit in a stupor and wonder why this always happens to me – I may be the world’s greatest writer as long as no one has a chance to read it.
I know you know the feeling.
It’s so much nicer to sit on the edge of the writing pool and dangle my feet in the wordy water. I can research how to write a blog, and just assume I can do it, and never have to face the reality of actually writing one. It’s so much more fun to live a life in theory – the theoretical writer never gets rejected, or when they do they rejoice and just keep writing. The theoretical writer knows what to do with that shitty first draft, which project to prioritize, how to juggle life obligations (laundry, anyone?) with the words on the page, and still have the energy to work out and have a fantastic sex life.
And of course, the theoretical writer is always as brilliant away from the writing apparatus as they are near it.
The real writer stumbles through all of it, because we’re human. We make mistakes, wear dirty socks (very rarely!), get rejected and totally lose it, we get lost in the midst of the first draft and have to write things over and over to get it right, we piss off our loved ones and have to make it up to them, we skip workouts and eat too much chocolate. The real writer is gorgeous, messy, slightly late, and learning-it-as-we-go. A real person.
And of course, the real-world writer never, ever, ever is as brilliant typing as we are when we’re washing the dishes. It’s just against the rules of the universe.
The longer we live as theoretical writers in our heads, the harder the transition is when we turn into real writers. There’s a mourning process there, to realize that it’s better to have a crappy manuscript than a dream of a good one. It’s hard to watch the waves of bad prose come out and to get snagged on plot points and which viewpoint to use. It’s hard, but also really really important and healing.
I will not, repeat not learn how to blog by reading yet another how to. I will learn to blog by blogging poorly.
Eventually, I can hope to be half as good as I am when I’m doing the dishes.