Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fear Factor

Have you ever stared at a blank page with the conviction that you just can’t write anymore? Okay, so you’ve finished many manuscripts--novels, novellas, short stories--been there, done that. But now, at this very instant, you are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have lost the touch.

Rejection doesn’t hold any fear for me. I’ve had enough truly scary experiences in life to know what matters, and it’s not about gaining any one person’s approval. But facing a blank page when I’ve been in editing mode for weeks, or maybe even taken a couple weeks off to deal with a backlog of errands, chores, unpaid bills--now that’s frightening.

Because maybe I just can’t do it anymore. Maybe the muse has left for good this time. Maybe if I do write, it will be so horrific, so completely without merit, that I’ll throw in the towel for a life as a professional chick sexer This job actually exists. I know, because one of my friends in grad school kept coming up with that on his career profile tests. What does that say about a person? I figure this would be a perfect job for an out of work erotic romance writer.

Now that’s fear. So I stare at the page. I demand that my muse appear. I threaten her with nipple clamps, handcuffs, whips, and hours of disco music. Then I bribe, entreat, beg, and wheedle, promising her wine and cheese, Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, Bach, Maroon 5, anything her little creative heart desires!

But the evil little thing is on vacation in Florida, or Europe--anywhere but Wisconsin in February. So I force myself to type a sentence without her. It’s awful. It may well be the very worst sentence I’ve ever written in my life. But I keep typing, clacking away at the keyboard. And I eventually get a sentence or two I like. And hey, that scene with the fruit and honey in the bathtub, wow, very kinky. I like it.

Disaster averted. I’ve once again pressed past the fear factor, muse or no muse. And in the winter, it’s much more likely to be just little old me, muse-less, typing away. But at least the fear’s gone. Until the next time I start a new manuscript…

Happy writing!


Wildheart said...


I know exactly what you mean! The scariest part about writing a book is putting something down on the very first page. Usually after those first few words or sentences are penned, it begins to write itself. But putting those first few ink blotches down (or, in our case, typing those few key strokes)'re right, it can get paralyzing in a hurry.

But, oh, how nice it is to begin that new piece of literary art. Such a wonderful feeling!


Meagan Hatfield said...

Hey Eden!

I actually LOVE the beginning.

It's the middle where I begin to putter out. I start thinking that finishing is the hardest task on the planet, I'll never do it, I'm a hack whose kidding herself if she thinks she can be a writer...

See? It's a dirty, ugly road. ;-)

But, the good news is it only lasts for 60 pages or so. Then I cruise the rest of the way to The End and lemme tell ya - writing those two little words never felt better after the struggle it was to get there.

Eden Rivers said...

I hear ya, Ann!

And Meagan, I've hit my share of snags mid-manuscript, too. Those are even more pesky, because you think you've gotten that far, and it should be smooth sailing, and then BAM, you're stuck.

Tell me again why we do this to ourselves?

Off to write now!