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Play Us A Song….

Gosh it’s been a busy week. The day job is ramping up into full steam ahead and the week seem’s to be about 15 minutes long.

I went to my course on Monday night, and I got some positive feedback on the outline for Young at Heart by Tim, the course facilitator. I was surprised by that. I guess sometimes it’s easier to believe everything you do is crap.

I’ve spent so long not working on writing that I’ve come to believe that in order to ensure what I produce is decent I have to beat myself over the head and yell at myself about being worthless for about 90% of the allocated time. It’s one of the reasons I became so good at procrastination.

I knew that I needed to email the draft to Tim by the end of this week, but with work being so busy, and me being so exhausted when I got home each night I put off writing it until yesterday.

At just before 2pm I told my mother that I was offline until I finished it. No calls, no helping with anything around the house. I just had to get it down. I took the laptop outside and I wrote. At about 3:15 I went upstairs to get a coffee. Mum , assumed I was procrastinating again – not a bad assumption – and when I told her I was making a coffee because I had finished the draft I thought she was going to smack me with a wooden spoon.

We ended up having a conversation – the minute details I’m not going to bore you with – that basically boiled to the fact that even as a child I wrote quickly. When you read other writers who say they strain and scream for every word, you assume all writers work like that. I don’t.

When I write it flows. It may be 90% garbage in the first draft stage, but it flows none the less. I’ve always used the ease with which words come as proof that I am an awful writer.

What seems like a million years ago, in a lifetime far far away, I began to write a fantasy novel. It was called El Khalidazar, and was based on a world with Well’s of Power the Mages drew on to cast their spells. In the series a Queen gives birth to twins, part mage, part human and it is the destiny of the children to repair the damage between the two races. One born to rule, One born to be a God.

I thought the idea was a bit of fun, and frankly I enjoyed writing it. I still have it somewhere. Anyway back to my point. When I was writing El Khalidazar I let a friend read it, and I posted the opening section on a website where writers reviewed each others work. It was a fantasy site, but I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me. I got some great feedback mostly. I got a couple of people who wanted to tell me they hated fantasy, but mostly everyone who read it rated it highly and asked for more. I never went back to that site.

I decided all those people who liked it were obviously drunk. The section I’d put up had only taken a couple of hours to write and another couple to edit to make sure spelling and grammar were correct.

As I continued writing El Khaldiazar, I’d lose hours. I’d sit down to write and look up what I thought was probably 20 minutes later and I’d have 10 pages written and 5 hours would have disappeared.

I do that even now. When I write it just appears. I’ve tried to explain it to friends in the past, but I don’t know that I make a lot of sense. When I write I don’t really do much. I sit and take dictation. I hear what is happening in my right ear. I listen to the characters as they describe the moment. I write what I see. Every scene I’ve ever written, every short story, novel attempt, or screenplay has played out in front of my eyes. It’s bright, it’s colourful and it’s loud. I spend time writing down the vision, more than worrying about what comes next.

I let what comes next just appear. I let the way I write deter me from continuing. Strange isn’t it. I don’t sit there and go “ohh cool, he’s head just fell off, and now a dragon is chomping the bones to paste”, I sit there and go “ohh that happened to easily, it’s obviously shit, why the hell am I doing this, I’m going to make a fool out of myself.

I guess the point to this post is sort of scattered. I need to learn to trust myself more. To trust that what I’m writing has value and worth, even if I’m not being paid to write it. When I sat down to write Young at Heart, I got out of my own way. A couple of minutes into writing the first scene I thought “oh this is stupid”. Instead of listening to that fear, I pushed myself out of my own way, and went back to watching the movie in my mind.

I think Young at Heart is good for what it is. A first draft that has only been edited in the fact that I checked the spelling and made sure the formatting was correct.

Young at Heart is the first thing I have “finished” even to first draft stage in over 6 years. When I first mentioned this course, I said it was either going to make me or break me. I feared I’d bitten off more than I could chew, and I’d done it only 2 weeks into doing The Artists Way. I feared it would derail me.

This course – in conjunction with The Artist’s Way – hasn’t broken me. I’m yet to see if it has made me, but it has set me on an interesting path. I’m gaining more insights into why I do the things I do – or don’t as the case may be – and I’m also starting to feel like maybe I can do this, regardless of the noises inside my own head that tell me to give up.

One day, I may give up, but I can’t give up while I still breath. I can’t give up without actually giving this a shot at success. Regardless of the format or genre I eventually decide to concentrate on, I have to try. If I don’t the only thing I’m guaranteed is that I’ll never get the trophy.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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