Writing without permission


The good news is that I finally have an idea for a novel.

The better news is that I actually started writing it.

The bad news is that I wrote about four paragraphs before the heebie-jeebies set in.

What the hell am I doing? What the hell makes me think I should be writing a novel? Isn’t there something more productive I could be doing with my time, like cleaning the house or looking for work?

And if, by some outrageous chance, I actually manage to write a novel, what the hell makes me think anyone will want to read it? Or buy it? Or publish it? Is this going to be one of those tree-assassinating efforts we used to see deep in the shelves at Baker and Taylor, like the self-published tome that “proved” Prince Charles was the Antichrist?

The truth is, I am embarrassed to write.

Oh, not to write copy… that’s a game, and a job, and an exercise in cleverness… what a very dear friend of mine refers to as “mental masturbation.” It’s pleasant enough and it pays reasonably well… and if I am offered another chance to do it professionally, I’m sure I’ll accept.

But I’m talking about serious writing.

Every time I sit down to attempt it, I hear a swarm of voices in my head, mocking me and saying, “what the hell makes you think you deserve to write? You know nothing about anything. You’ve studied nothing. You have devoted none of your time to serious thinking, and you have nothing of value to say. You are simply looking for one more way to postpone DOING something worthwhile, something of value to the people around you.”

And you want to know what’s worse? I want to write something funny! THAT sets the voices in my head into an uproar. “It’s not bad enough that you want to waste your own time and your family’s resources… you want to ultimately produce something that will be a time-waster for others?”

So here I am… sitting at my computer in the throes of mortification. What do I tell my son when he comes into this room and asks, “What are you doing, Mom?” What do I tell Jeff when he gets home from an ACTUAL JOB, and asks, “What have you done all day?”

My daughter would support me and understand, I hope, but again… what if I fail? What kind of example would I set for her?

I need a great big Letter of Permission from God, saying, “Go ahead. Do it.”

And I have to do it. It’s my best and last chance not to die as a disappointment to myself.


2 thoughts on “Writing without permission

  1. The notion of “writing a novel” would be scary to me. First of all, what story do I want to tell, and to whom? Then, how to go about it? Begin with a “plot summary” with short bios of main characters, then a “chapter outine,” then write the novel rom beginning to end? Next, what’s a novel? A big piece of fiction? Why not start with short stories, linked by a common character? And wouldn’t a novella or novellititita do?


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