Monday, November 08, 2004


I could probably attempt to argue that I'm giving everyone else a headstart, or that I wanted to really challenge myself this year. I could make up excuses about why I've yet to write word one in my yearly attempt (and failure) to accomplish the 50,000-word feat.

I could lie and say that I've already buzzed through 10,000 words and I'm only warming up.

But in all the time we've shared together, have you ever known me to do these things?

Okay, besides making excuses.

Okay, besides lying about intentions.

OKAY, okay, have I ever lied about wordcount? Huh? Have I?

Of course not. So why would I start now?

Dave is trying desperately to avoid being a NaNoWriMo drop-out. Again.

I don't know why I'm sharing this. Oh, yeah, "confessional"--that's what this is.

Those with a penchant for psychoanalysis could theorize that my recent surge of laziness is really just an attempt on the part of my sub-conscious to mask the same fear of failure that has kept me from starting something like this for years, as something less pathetic.

But that's crazy talk. Isn't it?


I find myself justifying putting it off every day. I haven't worked out the timeframe. I haven't decided where the story is initially set, and where it moves to. Do I want to frame it with the fictional history of the antique book the protagonist will begin seeking halfway through the story? Do I even want to use the rare book subplot? Too many questions. Too...many...questions.


I went to some friends to find support and ego-padding. I gave them my two most recent short pieces to read, expecting to impress them and perhaps garner some praise to sooth my troubled pride. Their response was, well, luke-warm. Like the kind of answer you give your mom when she shows you her latest crafty (crappy) creation: "Gee, ma, that's...nice."

I know that's not how they meant it, and it's my own damned fault for compliment-fishing, but I used to be able to "wow" people, and I'm afraid I've lost that. And it scares me.

Stephen King wrote that it's impossible to make a bad writer into a great writer, but a bad writer can possibly one day become a good one. Only a good one can be made into a great one.

I always felt (hoped?) I was in that middle category. Now, I'm not so sure.

The "Catch-22" is, you have to write regularly to get better, but if you've convinced yourself that you're hopeless, you lose all motivation to write, period. So the trick is to overcome the self-pitying voice of the praise-hound, regain the drive to write for its own sake, and then just friggin do it.

Like Lester Bangs said, "I used to do speed...maybe chase it with a little cough syrup...then I'd stay up all night writing 25 pages of drivel... you know, on the faces of Coltrane...just to f***in' write."**

Maybe that's what I need (minus the speed and cough syrup...maybe). One night of just mad, rambling prose, to fall back in love with the process.

**Okay, I'm not sure if he really said that. But Phillip Seymour Hoffman did.

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