A barren wasteland.
I sit and stare at the blank screen on my computer, fingers hovering over the keys, waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . .
And nothing comes.
No spark. No drop. No burst of inspiration.
It’s not at all a pleasant feeling. I force myself to type a few words, trying to regain the momentum I had before, but the words fall like lead from my fingers, clunking, rattling like dry bones. I read the passage aloud. The words taste like ash on my tongue.
The story feels dead, a battlefield strewn with lifeless characters, coated with dust.
A blog post then. ’tis about time I revisit my dear old blog, lest it turn into a ghost town, dead and silent like my story. Again, I sit before the screen, cursor blinking, fingers resting on the keys, and . . . nothing.
What plagues me? What terrible disease has sucked the life from my writing, the joy from wordsmithing, the hope and thrill of the unknown at the sight of a blank page?
A frightful word, that. A monster that few care to acknowledge, that most would rather forget . . . and yet, it lurks in the shadows. It spins its web. And in the end, most of us, at one time or another, are caught.
Far too often I find that when my pen runs dry, fear is at the back of it. Fear that I am wasting my time, that my writing is worthless, my stories are pointless, my dreams are hopeless. Fear that I do not know enough, write well enough, am not enough to see my dreams realized.
Ah, there is the truth of it.
Writing is heart. Writing is vulnerability. The soul revealed. For into my writing, I pour everything, my hopes, my dreams, my heart, my soul. And that is a fearful thing.
For what if others should not like what they see?
And who would care to read what I have to say?
And who am I to think that I can succeed where others have failed?
What if I never succeed? What if after pouring my heart and soul onto the page ’till I feel as empty as a dry well, I turn out to be naught but a failure after all.
And so, my fingers falter, the words stutter, my pen runs dry.
My goal seems – as it so often does for the heroes who dwell within the pages of my novels – unfathomably beyond my reach.
Yesterday, Stephanie Morrill posted about enjoying the writing journey on her blog for teen writers. It set me to thinking. I daresay few “heroes” enjoy the journey whilst embroiled in the middle of the adventure.
Did Frodo enjoy being hunted by Ringwraiths and orcs, or crossing the Emyn Muil, or traveling across the plains of Gorgoroth? Did the Pevensies enjoy being whisked out of their own world and into a land of snow and ice, a land enthralled to an evil witch, a land on the brink of war?
Were they afraid? Did they feel inadequate? Did they fear failure? Undoubtedly. Did they ever think of turning back?
Yet think of what would have befallen if they had. Though I cannot equate what is at stake in my novel writing journey to the save-the-world sort of battles “heroes” face, I can learn from their examples of tenacity, of courage, and of hope.
Though the journey may not always seem enjoyable, I know that this is something worth fighting for. Something worth facing fear and failure and doubt, staring them in the face, and pressing on despite them. I know that in the end, this journey will shape my writing and shape me in ways I cannot imagine.
I know that I serve a sovereign God and that He has crafted a story for my life that blows anything I could dream to pieces, that His plan is best. That He has given me a love for writing and the desire to write to glorify Him.
Whether my dreams are realized or not, I cannot allow fear to dry my pen.
Ps. 40:3a “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”