Making time …

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Bettina Pousttchi – World Time Clock, Berlinische Gallery, Berlin

I’m always wishing I had more time for my writing. However, this year, I’m going to try to be more realistic about the amount of time that’s actually available to me.

Like many creatives, if I haven’t written for a while I become anxious. Sometimes, I get tough with myself and make myself write, just to prove I still can. Lately, what’s really nagged at me is the draft of the novel I wrote last year. I need to edit/ rewrite it, but I feel I need a clear block of time in which to do this. I’d decided to wait until the summer, because I have a few weeks off work then, but recently I’ve started to think this might be a delay tactic.

In his book, Fearless Creating, Eric Maisel talks about completing work for the purpose of showing: ‘It may mean rewriting the first chapter three times so that it is really strong’.  He says that work is not ready to be shown if you cannot speak about it clearly, and he also suggests that there is a period of transition between the ‘working stage’ and the ‘showing stage’. It makes me wonder if I’m stuck in the period of transition. I’m avoiding the redraft, perhaps because I’m scared the novel won’t be any good when I return to it. I tell myself that doesn’t matter. What’s important is to complete it, to complete a manuscript that is ready to be shown.

Clearly, this is a lengthy process, but I’m going to go with Maisel’s idea of rewriting the first chapter as a way of easing myself back into it. Given that I never have as much time as I’d like, even this will require some effort. However, it’s a smaller, more achievable target than trying to rewrite the whole thing. In the meantime, I have a short story I need to tidy up, and a small batch of poems I want to send out. I see these as little stepping stones across a torrid river. It’s important to move from one stone to another, otherwise I might freeze, or worse, fall in and be swept away, clutching the unfinished manuscript in my hand!

Fearless Creating, Eric Maisel (Tarcher/Putnam, 1995)


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