I am the world’s slowest writer. I believe that no other writer could possibly struggle as I do, choosing each word as if it were an artisan chocolate, arranging words as though they were precious stones in a glorious Bulgari necklace, sequencing sentences like layers of finely ground nuts, cream and sponge cake in an Austrian torte.
If the results of my efforts were as impressive as any of these, I wouldn’t mind. But they’re not. They might be, one day, but I’m still learning, refining my skills, being the apprentice.
With the amount of experience I have, I should be writing like a landscaper makes a garden, planning, digging, shovelling up words as if they were pebbles and laying them down into paths. It’s much easier to fill a garden with beautiful plants once the structure is there.
This would be the logical and rational approach, even the more creative one. But I’m stuck in a rut. Called perfectionism. Sometimes the struggle to be perfect is so overwhelming that I want to walk away. I wonder if this novel-writing gig is really for me.
But then, I want to tell the story. I’m compelled. I don’t seem to have a choice.
I write this blog between scenes of my novel. It’s a way to communicate, give me a break and actually publish a piece of work. Once a month I get that little buzz of satisfaction that I have produced something. It reminds me that I have something to say. Something I believe in. Something worthwhile.
The idea for this post came to me as I struggled with a difficult scene, one in which extracting the idea was like sorting through a rubbish dump. I had rewritten the first few paragraphs several times, rearranging the words and the sentences. Literally moving things around to find the essence. The needle in the haystack. The point of writing anything. When the writing is challenging like that, distractions creep in. Anything, everything else, seems more interesting, more manageable, more urgent. Even other writing.
I complain about my writing style and yet I continue it. I battle myself, sometimes, to change my ways. Occasionally, creativity flows. But then I see a flaw. And I attempt to fix it. And I’m back where I began. At the end of the day, it’s only perseverance, sheer determination and self-discipline that will prevail. And a belief that my story has value. And needs to be told. And eventually, it will be close enough to perfect.
I reassure myself that it’s not only the hare that can cross the finish line. So can the tortoise.
Credit: Artwork of The Tortoise and the Hare by C A Harland