Writer’s Block

Little girls often dream of being ballerinas when they grow up. I was hooked the first time I saw the Sugarplum Fairy glitter her way across The Nutcracker stage. Since we lived in the suburbs of San Francisco, my mom even looked into enrolling me in the San Francisco Ballet School but realized the transportation issues alone were ridiculous not to mention the cost was prohibitive–as in we’d never eat again. Still, I danced for over 20 years. I had a teacher who at one point offered to go to New York with me to help me learn the audition process. (It’s okay if you don’t believe me. More than likely you’ve seen me struggle with sitting safely.)

I loved dancing, still do. I was pretty good, and with more work and dedication maybe a life performing would have been possible. But one thing kept me from pursuing a career on Broadway–fear of rejection. When starting a new venture, I really do believe in my heart that the position or honor I seek is within my grasp. I never start playing what I can’t win. (And yet I lose ALL the time.) I guess I’ve seen too many movies where the quiet, intelligent girl with mousey brown hair snags the handsome quarterback and lands the lead in the school play to complete the fairy tale.

Anyway, for me, dancing was not an ideal career. I’m assuming I’d be told I wasn’t good enough more often than not as is pretty standard. The song, “Dance 10, Looks 3” from A Chorus Line kind of opened my eyes to my future. I feel like I would have given up on that passion after each failed audition, my worth as a person sinking lower and lower.

It’s a strange journey in my head. I assume I’m awesome until someone says I’m not quite, and then I assume I should abandon the endeavor forever and crawl into a hole and cease to be me.

And that’s where I am with my writing. I get so inspired! People say nice things! I’m happy with my work! JK Rowling didn’t publish Harry Potter until after age 40! I have great tools and tips from the writing conferences I’ve attended!

But I’ve never had large-scale success. My short-story posts thus far have received little praise on the one site I used to enter them. I can’t get past the first chapter of my Poland book. I haven’t written in six months. And then, oh God, and then this:

“Allison Cane perched on her toes, poised to flee. Her target was in sight – well, not really, it was dark. She could hear the footsteps of her target though, and that was close enough.”

This is the opening to an assignment one of my old students wrote. She was 13. My first reaction was that it was better than any story intro I’ve done. My second thought was that I should erase writer from any and all biographical info I have on the internets. Because hyperbole is my middle name.

And then I read the passage again. It’s good, not perfect though. It has style, but still needs sprucing up and tightening. (That’s a technical term used by editors. It means this is long, and I’m not interested in reading it all. Make me interested.)

Oh God, maybe I should just be an editor. But then how does one get started doing that? I’d love to help bloggers edit their work, but no one would want me to. I mean, I have no experience, and my own writing sucks…..

You see?

Oh, just my son, writing a book, mocking my ineptitude.

Oh, just my son, writing a book, mocking my ineptitude.

 

4 thoughts on “Writer’s Block

  1. You should write because you enjoy it, and not worry about what other people think. What would you tell your kids or your students if one of them had written a post like this? Life is too short to not do what interests you. Besides, I want to read your Poland book!

    I wish so much I had time to write at the moment. So many ideas for editing my long neglected second novel… But violin making is the priority right now. I’ll get there! And maybe you’ll read my book and not like it and I’ll survive because someday the sun will explode anyway, so really, what does it matter? There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you do, they just shouldn’t get to choose what you do.

    • I am working on that attitude. I figure if my heart keeps beating with joy when I think of writing, it must be a task I enjoy just for the joy of doing it.

  2. Hugs. Sending you love. Just write. Get it out in whatever form you need it to. I have been blocked, and I got some great advice about getting out of my own head and my own way. xoxo

    • Thank you. I think with all that is going on in my family, I’m just afraid. I went to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in early April. It helped a ton!

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