Tuesday, November 27, 2012

just a blinking line...

 That damn little blinking cursor.

 Sometimes just looking at it makes me want to scream, and other     times the darn thing can’t keep up with my typing and ends up 8 words behind dragging along like a ball at the end of a chain. Other times it’s me at the end with the ball pulling me into that black abyss know as writers block.

 I’ve always had little stories bouncing around in my head.

Sometimes I’ll sit down and jot down the ideas to come back to have a go at it later, sometimes the whole story comes flowing out on the first seating at the computer. Then there are those times when I have it, or almost have it and then…bam. Nothing.

For me, small things can trigger a story. The other day I was out in the yard and heard a far off cry of a train whistle. There are railroad tracks that run straight through the center of the city I live in, but years ago there was a proposition the city made with the rail line to divert the majority of the train traffic south of our enclave. Subsequently we don’t hear as many train whistles as we used to.

I stood up from my fall raking chores and listened. I mentally noted which direction it was coming from, heading east it sounds from the frequency of the horn. If it were headed west there would have been a break in the series when it came to the bridge. Funny how your mind can place things without truly even consciously thinking about them...

In a second not only had no more than 10 memories and stories to go with burst into my head, then the memories started to morph into ideas of stories. Within 10 minutes I had a full page of notes. I remembered sitting at my grandpa's farm eating ice cream and pie on the porch at dusk and hearing the train. "I wonder where it's headed..." my grandpa always said. It never changed, that dialogue. He'd then start into a story, but it would always start with those words..."I wonder where it's headed." I'd settle in and get comfortable because I knew then I was about to hear a 'good un'.

I went back to my yard work and came back to my office and computer later that afternoon. I looked at what I’d jotted down and had, well….nuthin’. Not nothing really, there were a bunch of ideas, but what had seemed so clear, so precise, so perfect somehow got lost in the doubt factor.

That’s what I call it. The doubt factor.

Every so often it rears its lousy head. Little voices in my own head left behind as reverberations from those from my past that put them there. I know in my conscious and logical mind that these voices don’t mean much. They are words from lost men whose only hope to redeem themselves as real humans were to put down or use those around them. You know the type. You’ve probably yourself had a run in or two with some. But even though those voices are silenced in real time, they still….just every so often…make themselves heard again.

“Nancy...Why write? And a blog? Stupid. Just stupid…nobody cares.” I can hear him say.

“Because it makes me happy. I like it. I really don’t care if anyone reads it or not, I just like doing it. Feeds the right side of my brain.”

“It’s a waste of your time.”

Alrighty. Thanks for the positive input and reinforcement. By the way, get the hell out of my life will you? My mind is saying to itself. He’s not worth it. He’s a nobody, a nothing, a loser.

My words are clear. And true. And yet I can hear his faintly in the back of my mind.

Be silent.
Go away! I don’t want or need to hear your voice. Ever again!

So I return to my screen. I will my voice to be heard loud enough to drown out anything else that might interfere.

And watch the cursor blink at me.
It looks like it’s winking really. Go ahead, it whispers to me. Just one word. Then another will come. And another, and another…it’s easy, you love it. You want it.

The little blinking cursor seduces me. Makes me follow it to the next page. The word count starts racking up on the lower left corner. 500, then 600, 700. The loser voice no longer holds any weight. It’s speaking but it can’t be heard over the clicking of the keys from my fingertips. I like the sound of the keys. It’s soothing.

And makes me wonder why it took me so long to get back. I do like it. I do want it. I do enjoy it...

About two years ago I had an idea and started writing a story. Before I knew it, it was more than a story and on it’s way to becoming a book. One morning when out walking with a friend she asked me what I’d been doing in my spare time. “Oh, I’ve been writing.”

“Your blog?” she asked.

“A little, but not much with the blogging as of late.” I responded. “I haven’t quite had the time to devote lately and well, sorry to say, I haven’t even signed on in several months.”

She looked at me from under her hood with a questioning glance. “Why…?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been writing this kinda book…” I trailed off, waiting for some sort of rebuke.

“Really! Can I read it?” she exclaimed.

“Well…it’s not done or anything…” but I ended up printing up some of the pages and gave then to her the next walk we had planned. And then promptly forgot about it.

Several months later I got a call. If the caller ID shows a number I’m not familiar with I let it roll to voicemail. If it’s someone I know, they usually follow with a call to my cell. Not quite sure why I even have a landline, I so rarely use it or check the messages.

“Hi…Nancy? My names Bill. I happened upon a story you’ve written and well, I need about another 600 pages and then when we edit it we should have a fairly good novel. Will you give me first look at it when you’re done? No pressure.”

I about dropped the phone out of shock. Really? Wow. That’s…well, frickin’ amazing!
As it turns out she gave it to her husband, who gave it to a co-worker, who gave it to his friend, who gave it to his wife, who gave it to her college roommate, who gave it to her husband, who gave it to his workout buddy Bill.

But for some reason now the blinking cursor isn’t seducing me. It taunts me. You can’t do it, can you. Watch me blink. I’m not moving. I should be moving, but I’m not. C’mon. Just try. Try to keep up. Try to make me move.

I now truly understand when in the movies they depict the writer sitting in front of the computer with nothing coming out. I get it now. The pressure is great. Almost too great. It’s no longer fun, it’s like a job. What if no one wants to read it anyway? What if it is a waste of time?

Silence you buffoon. I won't have any of that language. Stay out of my head.

So I sit back down to write the next chapter and what comes out?

I'll now flip to the other open Word page and see what happens there.
That is, if I can get past this doubt factor...



  1. Sometimes, it only takes the first word to set the second, third,... following.

    Relax and the words will flow.

  2. First, wow, congratulations! Secondly, just write. Everyday. Even if it's crap. That's what one writer said. I think it was Anne LaMott. I heard her speak at a local college. She said that she would sit down every day and write. She knew that sometimes it was crap, but out of crap comes good things. Just WRITE! I, too, and plowing through a book. Maybe plowing is the wrong choice of words. That sounds like I am speeding through it, which is far from the truth! But I am trying. Anyway, I am very, very happy for you. Keep us posted on the progress of your book.

  3. I believe the doubt factor plagues all writers, even the ones who seem smug and cocky. When I was working on my (nonfiction) book, I took to striking the Warrior Pose from my yoga class. It is somewhat empowering for face-to-face encounters so I tried hard to believe in it when facing the cursor, and some days it even seemed to help.

  4. I'm hearing you. Having ideas is the most simple thing. You can even see the page laid out in your head. It's that in between part that gets kinda.... muddy.

    I have so much material these days - and yet little to show for it. Go figure. :)

  5. ps. Thanks for inspiring me. I'm published. ;)

  6. Hey Nancy! Very long time no see, sexy! Proud of you for banishing what I call the "Bollocks Factor", aka, "Oh, bollocks, what's the point?". There's some pretty awesome news on my blog if you get a moment? We're both gearing up for fame and fortune. Ha, Freudian - I just typed "fear and fortune". Which is a good name for a book. Hmmm... Anyway, get back to yours, I totally believe in you. Indigo x

  7. Hi Nancy! I've (obviously) been battling the same demons. Which is why it's taken me so long to catch up with all my favorite bloggers' posts. Here's to a Happy New Year for you!

  8. Wow! It's been a while I last time followed any blogs actively but getting back to business little by little. So, you're writing a book?! How awesome is that!!! I've been toying for years with an idea of a book or two, mainly fantasy book and/or a fairy tale for kids. Congratz for taking the big step and all the support (hugs etc.) from Finland to the fight with that inner voice and blinking cursor.

  9. There's nothing to be done about the blinking cursor.

    I say you knock it back with, oh, I dunno, a margarita. It may not actually help with the writing, but you won't care. :-)


  10. Holy. Shit. Nice, Nancy. I've just figured out how to RSS into my Wordpress ;)


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