Sitting Down to Write is Just Plain Hard
Writing is fulfilling and soul-feeding – but it’s also just plain hard. Each time I sit down to write, I feel I am leaping off a cliff only to land in a murky current of self-doubt: Why do I think I can do this? And why does it take so LONG?! It’s daunting! The sheer amount of writing required to create one damn good paragraph is unbelievable, unless you write. Annie Dillard, the author of The Writing Life, states, “How appalled I was to discover that, in order to write so much as a sonnet, you need a warehouse.” Because soon as a writer you will be surrounded by piles, drawers, files and indeed, a warehouse of drafts, revisions, notes, sketches, ramblings….your writings! Annie’s book often gives me comfort – and courage.
As writers we have to jump off that cliff over and over again, but we don’t have to drown in the muddy bottom of it. The Writing Life is one of my life jackets. Annie describes all the ways I dodge writing time. She does all the crazy procrastinating things I do, including trimming her nails, staring out the window, or at the wall, and checking on the grocery list. She hits me in the gut with truth and then she makes me laugh. Okay, maybe I’m not such a weirdo.
As writers we create many books. Many never get written. Many are thrown away. How does it happen? Annie says, “You lay your pages out…and pace out the work…After you have taken an exceedingly dull nine-mile hike…you go home and soak your feet.”
After ten years of writing work, my YA novel, Warriors in the Crossfire, is a “real book,” alive and well, the recipient of several wonderful awards. My newest novel, No-Name Baby, which took half the time, only five years to write, is out. Each time a child or adult writes to me to say “my book made a difference,” then I am ready to jump off that cliff again, sit in front of a blank page or a warehouse of chapters, and write.
-Nancy Bo Flood