When someone asks for “description,” do you answer with “leave nothing to the imagination?”
Well, as you may know, this isn’t too classy, and although some folks may enjoy that, most probably don’t.
As a writer, not all of our ideas can metamorphose into a fully-fledged piece of expression, and it’s important not to invest too much energy into the ones that aren’t working.
It’s snowing again in Northern Virginia. There’s not much accumulation, mind you, but a friend of mine pointed out how oddly we Northern Virginians react to snow. As he says, we know that it’s going to snow every year, and yet it still manages to catch us off guard.
Have you ever read a book with long passages of description? At first, you may engage, similar to how I used to vow to use my planner at the beginning of every semester. And then interest falters. Some descriptive paragraphs feel like a mud slog. I admit that even I start to skim over fat paragraphs, purely for self-preservation, after a while, and I LOVE description…
And now we live in a world where everyone is vying for your attention, we’re bombarded by stimuli, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a literary reaction to this. Not that it would get anyone’s attention, it might just die in a corner somewhere.
I’m the kind of writer who joyfully overestimates his own ability every time I sit down to type. And I’m sure I’m not the only one… I smile, pull open my laptop, look at the pages before me and think, “finish editing the whole book today? hell yeah!” One paragraph later: “finish the whole chapter today? Of course!” Thirty minutes and a few sentences later: “finish the paragraph today? OBVIOUSLY!” And then I get three sentences done. But even that doesn’t diminish the feeling I get when I start working. I…
This is why it’s easy to dismiss writing as “creative fun” rather than “work”. If someone were to take a peek at me during the percolation stage, they’d have reason to think I was joking around about being an author. I mean, look! He’s just staring at the screen, drooling and drinking a never-ending tumbler of iced coffee…
We hold expectations of ourselves that we import from stuff like TV, conversations, role models and the like. And if we think about them too long or too hard, we end up on our butts, too.
Here’s how it worked: I’d play through and etude, and 90% of it was okay, but then I’d get to that 10% where the shit would hit the fan. I avoided utter embarrassment by employing the musical equivalent of cursing under your breath so that your mother can’t hear you (which never fools anyone).
Some folks call their Inner Critic ‘writer’s block’ and, since this is such a well-known issue, accept the fact that their creative brain is diseased for at least the rest of the day and content themselves with email checking and Tumblr tumbling. The concept of ‘writer’s block’ has never made sense to me, simply because it’s not a valid excuse for other professions, so it shouldn’t be for mine, either.