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fish or cut bait

writing is something i've done my entire life. well, excluding those first few years when i was still learning to work the pencil. i remember when i was five years old, i wrote my first short story, about a horse named chestnut and his life on the farm. it wouldn't win me a pulitzer, but it gave me an early start at the one thing that i’ve consistently loved.
 
and i continued. i was always writing something, vainly trying to start books, or short stories that weren't very short after all, or just little vignettes, for which i planned to find a home, eventually. there were long periods where i wrote very little (and nothing of consequence) and there were periods where i seemed incapable of writing or typing fast enough to get everything in my head out before it disappeared.
 
the last year, or more specifically, the last seven or eight months (since i finally took a stand and left the job that ate my life) have been good to me creativity-wise. i've completed a number of stories and even the first draft of a short novel. and, although when i was younger and more frivolous, i used to be content to wait for the muse to visit, it is true that the more you write, the more creative you get. i no longer have to go through long periods where i have no ideas, because i just start writing and eventually my brain will catch on that it needs to get busy.
 
all this creative bounty is not without its drawbacks. before, when i wouldn't write for a few days, it was no big deal. i didn't have to write every day, because i had my whole life to write and besides, if i wasn't feeling the creative urge it meant that i wasn't supposed to be writing. (it's the kind of excuse that works when you're 23 and looking for a reason to go out dancing instead of staying at home typing.) now, if i can't write for a few days, i get myself so worked up that i seem like an extra from one flew over the cuckoo's nest. it's something i'm still learning to deal with.
 
in the last week, however, i've run into a different problem. i have an idea that i've been working on, something that really sings in my head. i've even got a working outline, which normally helps me speed through any project (taking a drive is nice, but you get to your destination faster with a map). the problem is, what's coming out of me is crap. when i think about this story, i really like it, but when i see how it comes out on paper (paper being an olden days eupemism for a computer screen), it's depressing. i'm expecting a glass of bollinger and receiving a drink of ginger ale that's been sitting on the kitchen counter overnight.
 
when i was younger, i would have either got bored and abandoned the project or simply finished it and let it be bad. at the age i am now, i'm both less willing to give up on things when they're not working and less willing to accept things that fall below my standards (talk about your lousy confluence of circumstances).

so now i have to figure out what to do with the story as it exists. is it better to forge ahead and run the risk that i waste more of my time on something that isn't coming out right, or do i push it aside on the hope that inspiration might return, but knowing full well that i may be giving it up forever?
 
at this point, i'm doing the latter more or less by default, not merely because i have no idea how to salvage what i've started, but also because i've become afraid to look this story in the face. like most of you, i don't like being reminded of it when i'm not good at things. i like it even less when it's something i'm actually supposed to be good at. this is no longer just a story or writing project. this is now something that crystallises all of my deepest fears. every time i look on my computer, in the writing folder, there it is, waiting for me to open it so that i can see that, whatever i may like to think, there are times when i can't make things work (even things that seem great in my head). it’s crying to me that it should be better, that it deserves to be better and that, in the hands of a more skilled writer, it would be better.

i have dealt with writer’s block before. i have dealt with stories that haven’t turned out the way i wanted before. hell, i dealt with having movers lose everything i had ever written before 1996. i have never lived in fear of my writing. perhaps it’s because i find the ending a little weak. perhaps it’s because i have certain scenes sketched out very well in my mind and i’m relying on the others to fill themselves in. if i could figure out what was causing the problem, i wouldn’t have a problem to worry about.
 
i know i'll have to go back to it at some point. i know that i'll have to face my fears, but for today, i'm going to have to content myself with cowering and editing things that i've already written.

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