Thursday, March 10, 2011

Novel Madness - Courage of a Lion

I doubt I've invented a new phenomenon, but of late I've started to consider which is worse, 'writers block' or 'action block', the latter being the affliction that I'm currently suffering from, although by logical reasoning, if I am suffering from 'action block' then I am not writing either, which means it's writers block without having to stare at the blank page.

Now being a person who likes to think long and hard about things,(and also someone who fails to come up with answers most of the time), I started to wonder 'why' I'm in a state of 'action block'? Could it be that I have no more interest in writing?  Has it all been a waste of energy?  And if I am not writing, why did I write in the first place?

Sometimes I think it's because thoughts comes inside my head, like this morning for example when I remembered something from way back when I was a kid and we lived in a flat.  Obviously we had no front garden, but we did live on the ground floor and therefore we had a front step.  Now a step may not be a big thing, but not having a garden, and others not having a front step, made it special, special that was to my mother who used to get us to scrub it.  This wasn't a bad thing, cause I loved making all the white suds, creating circles with the wire brush and in the process cleaning the said front step.  Anyhow years later we moved to a house and got a front garden with a hedge.  Now a hedge might not seem like a big thing, but when you're used to just a step, to my father, a hedge must have been special because the ritual of cleaning the step for my mother was replaced by trimming the hedge for my father, hence my thought this morning (after years of it festering somewhere dusty in my head), that when we moved, we swapped my mother's step for my father's hedge and perhaps the reason my mother stopped asking us to clean steps, was because everyone else had them.

Okay, so now you are getting the gist of it.  Sometimes these daft and sometimes not so daft things come into my head and I get the urge to write them down.  Other times I bravely believe that maybe something I write will make a difference or become mindblowingly 'popular', something that a reader will enjoy.  But whatever the reason, none of these explain why I have 'action block'.

Now blocks of the non-building kind are something that sound as if they require clearance, but to do so, we need to know what it is that we need to clear, which made me ask another question.  What am I afraid of?

Once the question was out, albeit inside my head 'out', it required an answer.  The best one I could come up with was that old devil 'the fear of failure', and I must admit as soon as I said this inside my head, it started to grow in a rather too familiar comfy manner.

What if people think my work is rubbish, what if no one ever says 'yes' that is worth sending out to the world to be read by many, what if it does not fit into what's popular, interesting, cutting edge, blah, blah and just for good measure more bloody blah!

At this point, I would love to say 'so what', but then I would be lying, and lying doesn't do one any real good.

So I figured if I can't say 'so what', and I am still worried about failure, maybe I need something else, like maybe a bit of courage.

Courage is not an easy thing to find, and I don't have a yellow brick road or anything like it, but I would imagine it's like most things, being an emotion that is there if you look for it.  So I did.

This afternoon after I finished all the 'jobs that pay the bills things', and a few necessary domestic obligations, I sat down and did work on the novel.  I read the blasted first 3 chapters AGAIN, edited them a little more and sent them off to 3 victims, I mean 3 loyal literary friends for feedback.  Now it might not seem like much, but it was an ACTION, which means in part, I have beaten my 'action block'.

I am really hoping it is not going to pounce on me again soon, but just in case it does, I've created my own version of what courage means, especially in relation to fear of failure in the writing world -

 Just do it, regardless of the bloody consequences, because not doing it, will certainly achieve nothing. 


  1. Firstly I loved your piece about the step. And second I recognise the action block...I've been trying to embarrass myself out of it, by giving myself deadlines and telling everyone - this'll be done before the month is out, I think there was a stage where I was beginning not to care...and the less I did it the less I cared - so I agree with your fine quote, just do it, and bit by bit the momentum grows again, like being on a swing...or maybe not! Best of luck with your writing.

  2. Yeap I've played that bluffing game too, perhaps it is all a process, and one day we'll both work it out. Good luck in the meantime.

  3. Well you said..sounds to me you have found that courage of a Lion....if you look outside your front door, I think you will see the first bricks beginning to be laid for the yellow brick road....don't forget to shine your ruby slippers that courage will take you on the ride of your life....nice writing...you inspire with it. ...bkm

  4. I understand the fear of failure thing, but there's also the "I'm writing a novel" thing - if it's been sent off then you're not writing it anymore are you? That's pretty scary too - it's just done & you can't fiddle - AND you have to worry about whether it will be accepted.

    So I'm proud you've sent it off to your readers!

  5. Good golly, I got confused during that, but then I am a 'sleep block' kind of person.
    But a great big yay! to getting that editing and sending off done, and I can only add that I reckon one is most successful in life if one is prepared to make of an arse of oneself on a daily basis. I practise this a lot myself.

  6. Thanks BKM, and yes Bug the acceptance/non-acceptance bit is another part of the dejection/rejection cycle, and Titus you are also spot on, apologies for the confusing post, I think I was having a Billy Connolly moment where he drifts off into whatever takes his fancy..... but making an arse of oneself is for sure another part of the process or at least being prepared to risk making an arse of oneself certainly is.

  7. I enjoyed the front step tale. My father grew up in Scotland and he told that if your front step wasn't scrubbed you were obviously a slut, in the old sense of that word - ie. the sort of slovenly woman who didn't keep her step scrubbed. So your mum had her reputation to think of. Hedges, however, had nothing to do with her reputation, but they definitely had something to do with your dad's. As for the novel writing, it's a disease. If you just do it, it will leave you alone. If you don't do it, it will gnaw away at you, make you feel miserable and guilty and useless and not good enough and all sorts of other unpleasantness. Blogging is writing too, just a diferent genre. You obviously don't have a block about that, so you should go easy on yourself. What's your novel about?

  8. Thanks Mairi,yes I guess the front step had social norms to comply with alright, sort of the first thing the outside world knew about you, we progressed later to white lace curtains in Dublin, if you're curtains weren't white, well enough said. You'll get the idea behind the novel under the 'Novel Madness' label above. It is more the 'why' rather than the 'who' or 'how' of a crime. It is my first attempt at novel writing, but hopefully not my last. Thanks again for your comment.

  9. I am the world's leading authority on this, as well as being the world's most affected patient. It's nothing to do with blocks of any sort, it's A.A.S., Action Avoidance Syndrome. There is no known cure. Sorry!

  10. I don't think you could be accused of that,you are so productive, but then again we all beat ourselves up and usually have a different view of ourselves than others have. You might enjoy the cartoon and quote under this week's thought for the weekend. Have a good one.

  11. This post really resonates with me. I'm going to have to do a similar analysis on my own action blocks, I think. I suspect that fear of failure may well come into it, although I am a card-carrying procrastinator for all kinds of reasons - or I will be when I can get round to it.

    Good luck with the novle!

  12. ah Argent, we are all guilty of procrastinating, but I suspect we are all also a wee bit afraid of failure! check out the thought for the weekend this week, it might help!


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