Sunday, November 30, 2008

Writer's Block

By Ginny Padgett

Writer’s block is the result of exposure to literary kryptonite. Apparently the walls of my den are lined with it!

I love words! I love the way they look on a page. I love the way they feel in your mouth. I love the way they sound in different combinations. I love painting pictures using words as my preferred medium. Nothing gives me the same feeling as writing. So, what’s the impediment to writing if I have this great love affair with words?

I’m afraid I have nothing to say that is of interest to anyone else. I submitted an entry to a writing contest in the novel-in-progress category. The components required were a detailed synopsis and a writing sample up to 50 pages. I figured out every plot detail for my eight-page synopsis. I finished the first chapter and epilog of my thriller. I sent it off with pride. Of course, it didn’t win; I really didn’t think it would. However, I didn’t expect what happened next.

I began to finish the second chapter, and I couldn’t. My story had been told in the synopsis, and it seemed to me that any more words on this project would be a waste. Not only that, but when I reread my shining example of literature, my thriller no longer thrilled me. Additionally, I have a couple short stories in various states of completion. I was excited about them when I wrote them, but now they seem lackluster. And my poetry is for my eyes only!

I suppose one of the only bits of my own writing I have ever been pleased with consists of five lines from a diary. I happened across it a while back and wondered about the origin of this prose. I was struck by its vision, its wisdom, its unsentimental emotion, its beauty. Then in a flash of memory, I was transported back to the time when I wrote this passage. I had experienced abject disappointment and felt disillusioned. This writing still had legs, and I could scarcely believe I had been the writer!

I have also been pleased with some technical writing I’ve done. I liked the clarity and efficiency I found there. I have been pleased with some 30-second advertising spots I used to write. I have been pleased with thank-you notes and letters of condolence. So what can I learn from these experiences? I have a short attention span? I’m easily bored? I’m a lousy storyteller? I require terrible emotional upheaval as my muse?

Gee. I don’t know. I am beginning to think fiction may not be the canvas for my art (“art” being another way of saying creative self-expression). Maybe I’m a much better reader than writer. Maybe…but I only enjoy reading. I love writing. So I guess I’ll pull up my big-girl panties, find a kryptonite-proof suit and keep trying.

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