Sunday, January 24, 2010

Literary Impotence

By Ginny Padgett

I have an embarrassing condition…submission anxiety.

I revealed my secret to a couple of my fellow workshoppers, and they seemed amazed. “That’s silly,” one said. “You NEED to have at least 1,000 rejection slips before you can consider yourself a real writer.” “Just do it!” was the advice of another. “How can you read a sex scene aloud to us and be too shy to send a submission for publication consideration?”

Perhaps this is a silly situation. I am fairly confident in my wordsmith skills, in my ability to create realistic characters and vivid settings, and in making transitions for a good flow.

On the other hand, I get bogged down in descriptions, too much detail, and backstory dump. These stumbling blocks derail the progress of my story. Herein lies the crux of my writing dilemma, I think. Could my focus on the craft of writing be covering up the fact that I haven’t found the story I need to tell? Or maybe I have and haven’t found the magic balance of theme, plot, story line, character, and setting. I may need one of Shakespeare’s witches with bubbling cauldron to make this divination, or…

Should I follow Dr. Faustus’ Plan for Success?
Would a 12-step program help?
Talk therapy?
Keep writing and buy stamps and manila envelopes?

I know which option is the only answer, but I wish there were an easier way to overcome my literary impotence, brought on by submission anxiety and writer’s block (Yes, I suffer from that one, too!). Aaah…if only there were a little blue pill to painlessly pump up my inept ramblings and push them out as published works.


Columbia Writers Workshop said...

Ginny, I used to struggle with the same thing, then I realized nothing would happen if I just sat on my stories. Mostly it was the thought of revising that held me back. I have a 15-year-old Nike bumper sticker on my bulletin board that says, "Just Do It." That simple little mantra has helped tremendously. Time to cast that net as far and wide as possible! Happy casting! :) Lisa

Crestere said...

i totally agree with Lisa, she`s right.

Leigh said...


I hear you. I struggle with it, too. It's the least fun thing about writing. I actually think it's a form of writer's block. I love Lisa's advice. I'm going to take it, too:)