Writer's Block

OK, so that title is probably a little misleading. Personally, I don't believe in the concept of writer's block. I think it was Warren Ellis who said (and I'm probably misquoting here) that if you want to write for a living, you have to get up every day and actually fucking write, and that's a philosophy that I wholeheartedly subscribe to. Or at least, I'd like to.

There's a lot of crap been piled up at my door over the last few months, the most recent of which was losing my job. I should point out here, that I'm not bitter about it or anything; I knew it was a short term contract, and I walked into it with my eyes wide open. It was fun, I met some cool people, and learned some new tricks. It's having to sign back on the dole to keep some money coming into my pocket that's killing me; plans and ideas I had in place have had to be put on hold for the minute (maybe even scrapped completely, I'm not sure). But, I'm trying to look on the bright side of it, though: I have more time to actually sit down and write.

Only problem is, though, I've found it harder and harder to do that over the last week or so. I've got a bunch of projects on my To-Do list (and, hey, isn't Gmail's Tasks List the best app ever? Seriously, I fucking love it!) that I'm trying to work my way through, but it's finding the motivation to get to them that's the killer. It doesn't really help that I feel like I'm just...spinning the wheels at the minute, either.

Over the last few months, I've been working on a proposal for a graphic novel, and, more importantly, securing a publisher that would be interested in actually, you know, publishing it. It's been a pretty daunting task, seeing as it's my first 'full length' project (so far, my 'portfolio' (if that's not too pretentious a term - hey, it's my blog, I can be as pretentious as I want!) consists of short stories, both text and comic strips, none of which are all that substantial, but show, I feel, that I can actually write). It's been an enlightening endeavour, though, it has to be said; I've taken a lot of lessons away from it so far, and I've really only just started.

However, I'm using that as an excuse to hold off on doing other things. It's essentially my biggest problem at the minute. Well, that and my lack of confidence in my own work.

I know it's not an uncommon thing amongst anyone with a creative bent, and I try and use it whenever possible to try and make myself into a better writer. I want to tell myself that it's nothing more than my nature to be unhappy with what I put down on the page; there truly is no worse critic of my work than myself. When I recieved my contributor copy of Something Wicked #4, I found myself picking apart my strip, The Kindness Of Strangers (with artwork by the awesome Vicky Stonebridge), realising where I could tweak and edit captions and dialogue. I recently found the sample chapter for my submission to Abaddon Books and realised how poorly written it was: there were bits and pieces in it that had a nice flow, and I could see where I was going to take the characters, but there were chunks of it that were clunky and unweildly. I know - with that amazing gift of 20/20 hindsight - that I should've taken my time with it and thought it through rather than sit down and start it immediately, re-writing every other word in a bid to get it finished and in before the deadline.

I've got ideas and concepts kicking around my head, many of which I know I can hammer into shape, or fold into something else. I know that some of those ideas can be worked into longer projects, but... Well, I've always found reasons (or excuses, if you prefer) to put off trying something longer, with the current one being the reasons stated above: my lack of confidence in my own work. The fabled manuscript of mine is still languishing on my hard drive because of that.

Last year, I hit a bit of a personal low, and made me face up to a few things, things that I've been avoiding and trying not to deal with. When the new year came knocking, I decided it was time to stop running away from those things and 'man up', as it were. It was time, I decided, to get my arse in gear and get focused on what's important. One of the key things (possibly the most important - to me, anyway) was all about facing up to my own shortcomings as a writer, and - you guessed it! - my lack of confidence in my work. I've managed to talk my way into a couple of upcoming anthologies, so I know that I have to get my head in the game, or waste some great opportunities to get my work out there amongst professionals. This graphic novel project is something that I just...have to do, something that I have to get out into the world. I'm laying out some plans for a fairly ambitious webcomic, I've got some unfinished prose stories sitting on my hard drive, and I've got ideas scrambling to get thrown around in the manuscript.

Everything is there, waiting to be picked up and used. I know I can do do this. I know I can be a good writer if I apply myself. All I need is the spark of motivation to kick my arse and make me sit up and do it. But finding it... That's proving to be difficult.

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