Friday, November 13, 2009

I Leap

~~ Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark. ~~ Agnes De Mille

I won’t say every single time I sit down to write I’m forced to bat away pesky insecurities (wouldn’t that sound puny?) but I will say this, on off days I am forced to confront out and out fear. Fear that I’ll make an idiot out of myself, fear that nobody will ever choose my book over another, fear that I will have forgotten how to string sentences together to make paragraphs that tell a story worthy of spent time and effort.

If we are not willing to risk doing something badly we will never produce anything worthwhile as artists. We procrastinate and find shelter when we attempt to avoid running the risk of failure, don’t we? In times gone by there was no such thing as the Internet to distract us, but there was always something, always something to temp us away from the typewriter or canvas. Not to mention all those tiresome responsibilities and chores. How might I ever overcome that self-doubting-Thomas-of-a-nagging-voice?

I always start with an idea. But, hasn’t this idea been used in one form or another, over and over again? My mother used to tell me, "Elizabeth, there's nothing new under the sun." She loathed the term
old-fashioned, liked to point out how each new generation feels they have the market on sex/etc. cornered. When in fact, it’s all been done before. If you don’t agree, check out The Bible and the account of Sodom and Gomorrah. Debauchery is so passĂ©, or is it?

Another quote of substance ~~ Two things make a story. The net and the air that falls through the net. ~~ Pablo Neruda

I aim to allow ideas and inspiration to fall through the figurative net, as they may. I’ll catch and gather those sparks and do my best to turn chaos into order. I aspire to direct them into place on the page in a fashion worthy of the reader’s time and attention. It’s all I can do at the moment.

I snapped this picture of my office this afternoon. We’ve lived here for six months and I haven’t bothered to put this room together, which is so unlike me. I sit amongst a willy-nilly mess, and it does not hinder me in the least. How very odd.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.


Woman in a Window said...

You can't begin to imagine just how orderly your willy-nilly appears to me. Wow.

I can not get my mind around how a novel might be born. Are you patient? Do you one step in front of the other? Do you know where you are headed? I have half-arsed tried and find that I've adhdabcd. I can't get past the thought of the moment or the fly flying by.

Do tell.

I am so appreicative of your support. Every time you read me I think of it that way.

Cloudia said...

I agree with window woman - you ought see where I work on my boat!

Your words are appreciated by this writer; but lately I just plow ahead and it comes round righter than I knew....So glad people like to read what I blog, and my little novel-blessed feeling!

Aloha, Writer Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Isn’t this so true for all of us? I think so. The point about nothing being new, especially in storytelling is certainly true. Joseph Campbell even defined it in the mythic structure. If you look, you’ll see it in every story: the MC in his/her ordinary world, Call to Action, etc. How about boy and girl meet, fall in love, encounter problems, do or don’t resolve problems, do or don’t live happily every after. The trick is in the packaging. That’s the part we control, right? So, from the plot and structure aspect, your Mom was right.

Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

Journaling Woman said...

Although there is no new idea under the sun, our own experience and how we spin it - is.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love the net quote - what a lovely image :)

Confidence is a never-ending issue for me - but we'll keeep working away at it!

Tabitha Bird said...

I agree with Woman in the Window- if that is your willy-nilly can you come over to my place and splash a little of it around! :) Your writing space looks plenty comfy.

Thanks for this post. You can tell from my post probably that this is exactly what I have been battling lately.

I love these quotes too!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

"If we are not willing to risk doing something badly we will never produce anything worthwhile as artists."

This is so inspiring. Thanks for this reminder!

Joanne said...

Better to try, to live the dream, the creation, than not to try at all. Thanks for the inspiration today.

lakeviewer said...

There may not be anything new under the sun, but it feels new to us when we live under that sun. Each of our lives is uniquely ours, experienced with many nuances. The trick is not the packaging. The trick is to really be open, raw and naked, unafraid to be ridiculed, scorned, debased.

Writing, is an act of confession, a soul wrenching act that pulls at every fiber of your soul.

p.s. your studio looks pretty good to me.

K. said...

Thanks for this...I needed this today. I've been doing a lot of writing, but I'm not sure if any of it is worth anything. Having a bad day! I hope tomorrow is better. :)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Your office looks like a writing sanctuary!

I share your fears and concerns, but even with them, I still have to write even if it's in the dark of night, with a flashlight, under the covers!

Michele Emrath said...

I procrastinate already at 7:58 this morning. Yes you are right. I think I spent an hour the other day searching the internet for books written about my idea for one, just in case. But so what if it's already out there? It can't be done the way I'd do it. it can't be exactly the same.

Great quotes. Great words. Thank you!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think we all bring our own experiences and backgrounds to the plot, which keeps things fresh. There are only supposed to be something like 8 plots out there, right? And we all try to bring something new to them.

Mystery Writing is Murder

ellen abbott said...

You call THAT a willy nilly mess? I can't even imagine what you'd call my work space.

Alix said...

Oh, but I love the room! And I love the soft cast and dreamy feel of the photograph.

Regardless of what it is in life that we individually seek to do, we all have those pesky insecurities. They loom over all of us like an evil stepmother saying Do you honestly believe you have it in you to do that? I have always been the rope in the tug-of-war between that crippling insecurity and the notion that the only failure is in never trying.

Once in a creative writing class in college I wrote a story called "Victory For The Old Commander" or something like that. I worked very hard on the characters and plot and was pleased with the final product. I submitted it and was hoping for an A. what I got was called to my Professor's office and asked if I knew what the word plagiarism meant. No. I wasn't sure I did. He told me and then asked me if I'd ever read s"The Destructors" a short story by Graham Greene. No. I hadn't. Then he proceeded to tell me about the story and enumerate the similarities between my story and Graham Greene's. The fact of that enormous coincidence should have been overshadowed by the fact that I was like-minded with a famous accomplished author, but instead I felt dirty and guilty. I don't remember the grade I received for the story because all I remember was the shame I felt for being suspected of cheating.

So when I read the part in your post about it "all being done before," that's the immediate thought that pierced my memory. Maybe it has all been done before and maybe it will all be done again. But let us each do it in our own way and reap the rewards we deserve.

staceyjwarner said...

This was amazing and so true. This is the fear that live in every artist's heart.

The chores, the fear, the "it's been done before" always keeps me from the many writers, writing, some really good writers...I always have to remind myself my story is worth telling and because I'm telling it, it will be authentic because there is not another "me" out there.

much love

Tom Bailey said...

I had never heard of the net quote before. In life I find if I do not take risk... risk forces its way into my life anyways so why not choose which risks to take.

Risk and rich are also both 4 letter r words that have quite a bit in common in my viewpoint.

Great thoughts.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Dearest Elizabeth...Oh, I can so relate...fear of failure...and yet, something drives me beyond...the thrill of the danger perhaps...and so I write...You have captured this so wonderfully well--as always!!! I think your office looks beautiful...I'm not sure what you could possibly do to improve upon it...but I'm sure your artistic eye could find a great many ways!!! Love you!! Janine XO

Marguerite said...

Oh Elizabeth, your office is neat as a pin and so lovely, too! But being a fellow Virgo, I do understand why you would think that. I remember that quote "There is nothing new under the sun; all is vanity and vexation". King Soloman, I believe. I try not to think about whether I'm doing something badly. I just write from the heart and let the chips fall where they may. Your writing is great and does not come across with any self doubt at all. Cheers!

Lori said...

There is a lot of risk involved in writing. For me it's about exposing myself and letting others judge what they perceive. It can be fatal because after shedding all the skin, all the flesh, what's left exposed is vulnerable like an screaming newly born. Oh. I have so much fear.

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Alix- that is a terrible story. Similar is NOT plagairism.

I agree - if that's a mess I think you shouldn't visit me!
I have a quote pinned next to where I work that says: "You're only willing to succeed to the same degree you're willing to fail". Whenever I hesitate over something I read that.

I just wrote a post for tomorrow morning which is very similar to this. Great minds and all...

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Funny, I was going to do a post on writers and procrastination - and the multiple reasons we have for not getting on with it - most of them associated with fear of one sort or another, from fear of failure to fear of success.

Nancy said...

Just catching up on the last few posts. Your granddaughter is so cute!!!

Loved the fictional story - had to laugh - she certainly seems to have made sure she would be all alone.

I really love you tips on writing. Please keep them coming. :-)

The Victorian Parlor said...

I too get stuck sometimes when writing and then I begin to doubt myself and worry if anyone will like my stories. It's nice to know that I am not the only one who thinks these things:).



Anne Spollen said...

That's not organized? Yikes. I better pick up a little before I come to your blog.

I know what you're saying -- but I'm always amazed at how I can go to a party with a friend and we come back with entirely different impressions of people and situations. It's your own personal spin, the way you use the words to create the pictures, that makes it new.

Anne Spollen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Shife said...

We are trying to organize some rooms now that we have a mobile baby so your willy-nilliness looks pretty great to me. And I loved this from your blog, "If we are not willing to risk doing something badly we will never produce anything worthwhile as artists. We procrastinate and find shelter when we attempt to avoid running the risk of failure, don’t we?" And to your answer question, yes indeed. I am so guilty of this. I keep putting off stuff I want to do because I am afraid of the risk. It is a trait I am not very fond of.

Jenn said...

I smiled and nodded through this entire post. We writers are all such similar birds huh? I guess there is a small comfort in knowing we are not alone with our self doubt and that others experience the same thing. During Nano I am forcing that side of me to another state/country. I stopped caring about what others think because they are not reading over my shoulder. Its hard but mostly working!