Tuesday, 15 March 2011

What in the world happened to me and what was I thinking?

My return to the blogosphere has taken significantly longer than I had initially planned and the reasons are not what you may suspect. I am certain that many have sat at their computer and promised to themselves and the whole of the interwebs that they were now and shall always be a committed and devout blogger. After all, what would happen to their faithful followers (read immediate family members and tolerant friends), where would they turn to for insight and inspiration? Only to leave their initial few posts buried in the recesses of a computer server.  I think I would not be wrong in saying that starting a blog has become part of the ritual of New Year’s resolutions, joining the company of such lofty aspirations as losing weight, stopping smoking, spending more time on the things that matter most, writing that novel you said you would always write and unlike every year keeping said resolutions. Of course these commitments are tossed to the side quicker than a used tissue during a screening of “Steel Magnolias”.  

But I tell you this has not happened to me and before you can call me out and tell me I’m full of it let me share with you my harrowing tale of overcoming insurmountable challenges and my joyful return to the keyboard.

It all began with a slight cough and within 12 hours I had the worst cold I’ve ever had in my life. Now you may be thinking “What a wimp!” but seriously I have never been so sick. My head was in a fog and my cognitive capabilities were non-existent. I could hardly put together a string of intelligible spoken words let alone do any writing. I slept more than I thought was possible (a benefit of being a stay-at-home dad) and consumed more Tylenol Cold than is probably medically recommended. But, 3 weeks later I finally feel somewhat back to my regular self (please note: I said regular and not normal, as I have never been described as normal). 

I will not continue to inundate you with the details of the fog that has been but I should attend to the actual purpose behind this blog, that is, my journey down the pathway of being a writer.

Between being incapacitated, taking care of a house and co-parenting 3 boys I did have an opportunity to take a few baby steps along my writer’s journey. In one of my more lucid moments I went back to the notes and pages I had written in the past. I reflected on what I read and came to one simple, yet profound, conclusion “What the hell was I thinking???”

Not that I am questioning my desire to write a novel, or even questioning the theme or storyline of my writing.  The criticism that I direct inward is clearly focused on my goals and intent in writing this book. Looking back I clearly have been falling victim to delusions of grandeur. I have wanted this novel to everything to everyone, a best seller, award winner, ground-breaking, deep, cathartic, epic, the next great work of fiction that revives the industry … and so on and so on. I have wanted the plot to be complex with storylines that interweave across settings, time and space.  I wanted to have a something that would turn into a series that sells millions and inspires all (and a great movie series would be all but expected).  

Clearly, this is ridiculous but I would be shocked if it isn’t a fairly common rookie mistake.  Luckily, I now recognize my folly and as one of my favourite childhood cartoon series said, “Knowing is half the battle!”

So where do I go with this knowledge?  Simply put, I go forward.  My goals are now being simplified and refined.  

Goal #1 – Just write the damn novel and don’t get to too fancy.
Goal #2 – Get it out and get it down, you can edit later.
Goal #3 – Expect it to be flawed, but expect it to get done.

Short, simple and doable.