When I was in 7th grade, I completed writing my first novel. I can assure you without even finding the notebooks it was scattered across that it was crap. I like to believe there were some nuggets of good stuff in there, and maybe one day I’ll turn the cliched story I wrote back then into a story worth reading. But the really important part is that I finished a novel, and it’s something I have not been able to do again since.
Yeeaahhh, that’s kind of embarrassing. What did 7th grade me know that 31-year-old me has apparently forgotten?
I’ve wondered about that question or similar ones many times, in fact. Writing seemed to be so much easier when I was younger–a kid, in high school, in college. I don’t merely refer to how much time I had to put towards the activity, but getting things out and on paper was just easier. The words came faster, I often am convinced the stories were better overall, writer’s block just wasn’t the problem it is now. I know I’m far from the only person who’s had this problem or noticed this, as well.
So what changed? Am I just older and more in my head, getting in my own way? Have I constructed more excuses for why not to write? Has my inspiration and desire to write started dying off?
The first reason feels like the most likely. I’ll write now and I’ll be convinced that this story is cliche, there is better stuff out there, it’s been told before, and getting published is almost impossible, much less getting published and getting popular, too. Why do I bother? Who other than my family and some good friends wants to read my crap anyways? I shouldn’t bother.
And there it is. The reason it’s harder is that I’m in my head, and I tell myself these things. Because as far as facts go, these things are no more or less true now than when I was 12, but the difference is I didn’t know them then. I only knew I wanted to write, had to write, and had a story I loved that I wanted to tell. There was no why not, there was just a why.
And doesn’t that just sound so much better than all those reasons why not? There’s my why. I want to, I have to, I love this story.
I do my best to focus on that nowadays, because I have a story I love, and I want to tell it, and I have to. It won’t get out of my head until I do, damnit. It helps that I’ve pushed through to getting about halfway through the first draft of it, too. There are parts I don’t like, that I think are cliche, that I know others have done before and done better, but I can’t let that become an excuse. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure Bette Lauden is going to be really stubborn about forcing me to tell her why her brother died and who’s responsible, why she’s seeing ghosts, why one of them is killing people, and what the hell is going on with her and Jesse already.