About six years ago I lost a YA novel I was working on. I thought someone grabbed it in cyberspace. Now of course I know you should backup files and carry a USB flash drive around your neck. In hindsight I realize it wasn’t a particularly good novel. It was too heavily populated with ghosts, suit-wearing vampires and earth-bound angels to be anything but horrible but still, it was going to be my first complete work in years. I was devastated.
I grieved the loss of that book. I don’t want to compare it to losing a loved one but it came close. I moped around for months drinking way too much sherry and eating chocolate. Eventually an enigmatic character made her appearance (in my mind of course, in case you’re thinking I’m a stalker) and I was compelled to follow her and soon I was writing another story…
I’m now on my third novel which means Book 2 will also not see the light of day unless I rewrite it – completely. This writing journey though – this process of creation – has been very illuminating. I find my approach to writing has changed. There is no longer this sense of urgency. I still commit words to paper (screen) on a daily basis but without the old pressure. Yes, I am burdened with feelings of inadequacy (I am more than a little intimidated by the novel’s characters and the plot) but still for the first time in years I am calm; unhurried. I have a sense that the process of creating is perhaps more interesting than the end result.
What do you think? How do you approach the blank page?
M.C. Richards, poet, potter and teacher tells this story in her book “Centering”:
There are many marvelous stories of potters in ancient China. In one of them a noble is riding through town and he passes a potter at work. He admires the pots the man is making; their grace and a kind of rude strength in them. He dismounts from his horse and speaks with the potter. How are you able to form these vessels so that they possess such convincing beauty? “Oh, ” answers the potter, “you are looking at the mere outward shape. What I am forming lies within. I am only interested in what remains after the pot has been broken.”