The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

28 February 2012

Of expectations and production

Rats.  I knew I should have written it down.  Or finally followed through on my idea to always, at all times, and constantly have a voice recorder with me.

Now I am tormented by a wonderful idea for how to flesh out something I've been working on for over a month that drifted through my mind just as I was falling asleep one night.  I thought of getting up for my notebook, but - and I remember this very clearly because it turned out to be horribly wrong - I told myself that it was so obvious, I would have no trouble recalling it in the morning.

Writers everywhere must deal with this.  I hope they do.  I hope they also have notebooks, and bits of loose paper, and several disorganized computer files chock full of terrific first lines, exciting outlines, sparkling bits of dialogue, and insightful article proposals that have been abandoned because of the next great idea or because the gloss wore off in the face of having to apply elbow grease to the ethereal brilliance of received inspiration.

There are deadlines to meet, and not to be overlooked is the personal need for accomplishment. I need to produce a good finished product with enough regularity that I don't forget I'm a writer.  People always say you never forget how to ride a bike, but you just try the Tour de France after not being on two wheels for more than a decade.  Every skill needs to be used or it becomes clunky.

Beginnings are easy, it's what comes after that gets really hard.  Either the beginning is so good, so full of promise that I find reasons not to finish it because no way could the rest be as good as that opening, or, the thing is crap and I'm paralyzed at the thought of having to fix it.

The piece of writing I mentioned above crosses into both categories: it was a good idea and it has a few really good images in it, but drawing it out into a coherent story has been awkward and it no longer works, now matter how I tinker with it, so it has been languishing in a WIP file. (Works in Progress) (Whip would be a better name; those unfinished bits can sometimes lash at my conscience when I spend an hour watching West Wing reruns instead of working) Which is why I now bitterly regret not throwing back the covers and braving the cold floor to get some paper when a way out of this mess beckoned two nights ago.

Back to the drawing board.


  1. Hey I have a WIP file too....and papers....and cute little notebooks half filled...and cue cards....napkins, shreds of telephone bills, sometimes only containing one word.

    It's hard to be a writer.

  2. It is, isn't it?

    How do you organize your flotsam and jetsam of writerly fragments? Do you have a routine of going through what you've accumulated or do you troll through when you're looking for inspiration?