So we already know that I don’t actually write every day, as in putting pen to paper or my fingers on the keyboard 365 days a year, and I’ve written a bit about my writing schedule previously, but I wanted to add a sort of real-time musing update on this.
Yesterday the thought of writing made me groan. All of my emotions on the subject were “Nope.” Even though – or maybe even “because” – I’d written a bunch the day before that. I’m working on revising a project, which in this case basically means starting over from zero, and that’s not always something you want to do. Really it’s just one more reason to dig in your heels, pout, and say you’re not writing today.
But, since I’ve started actively working on this project, I figured I’d do it. Pout and all. I made some coffee and told myself I’d stare at the cursor for half an hour and then get breakfast.
I didn’t end up eating breakfast yesterday. I got working and didn’t look up for a couple hours.
So the moral to the story …
Here’s the thing: I’ve been writing for over two decades at this point, and I still can’t guess at which days hold the words and which days don’t. The wordful days are sometimes obvious (is that in the Newspeak dictionary?) but the unwordful days are frequently liars. Surprisingly frequently.
This sort of thing even pops up in my Facebook memories from time to time. “Yesterday I wrote a ton of words. Today I sat down thinking I just need a dozen, okay, please? And ended up writing two tons.”
So really, you do just have to turn the faucet on and see what comes out. I don’t particularly want to get all It in this post, but you don’t actually know what’s waiting (blood or water?) or what else might be down there in the sewers. Georgie Denbrough might tell you not to look, but we’re writers. We’re curious. And that second, oft-unspoken part of the famous cat phrase is “but satisfaction brought it back.”
And okay, we’re talking about the magical wordful faucet and not the thing on your bathroom sink. Some days the faucet is rusty and refuses to turn, or somehow it’s grown tall and is nearly out of reach. Maybe it feels like it’s hot enough to burn if we touch it, or it’s shrunk down to Borrowers size and we’re more likely to step on it and break it.
It’s one sneaky, changeable faucet, but we still need to turn that sucker on.
And the thing is, I don’t think I’m being entirely negative here. There are some days when the faucet is shiny and bright and I can’t even conceive of a spider hiding in the sink, but … those are rare. Off the top of my head, I can think of two (fiction) pieces that demanded to be written and wouldn’t let me go. I couldn’t turn the sucker off if I wanted to. Two, in two decades.
That’s a lot of forcing myself to the faucet.
But I go. I go because – as Stephen King apparently is the only one to remember Alfred Bester ever saying – “The book is the boss.” (Seriously, a Google search for the quote plus Bester’s name gets you a whole page of King quoting Bester, and who clicks onto the second page?)
The book wants to be told, and it’s not like anyone else is going to tell it. If it’s going to be written – if I want to find out what happens – I need to write it myself.
Go to the dang faucet. Turn it on. See what comes out.
And keep going, day after day, until you get enough.
If you’re lucky, I think, you won’t ever get enough.
Is your writing like turning on Louis L’Amour’s faucet, or do you see it differently? Does your faucet work better than mine? Have you ever had something entirely unexpected come out?
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