Your Fiction Ideas Are Shriveling Away
I’ve had an article open since March about how all of my unused skills are shriveling up, becoming liver spotted and hunched over from disuse. I’m totally at peace that guitar is on that list. Printmaking is on that list, too. Horseback riding. Despite being archery trained, I fear that archery is being pencilled in on that list since I haven’t picked up a bow and arrow since the training.
The only thing that I have regrets about is fiction writing.
I know what you’re thinking: Melissa, you write every day. How can fiction writing be on that list?
All types of writing are different, and while I’ve completed 1 1/2 non-fiction books, I haven’t worked on a novel in a long time. I’m midway through a book, but I set it aside when life got busy. The arc of the story feels a little muddy from sitting outside of my brain for so long. I only meant to be away from it for a week; let me just get myself settled with this new project and I’ll return to it on Monday. But that Monday was last summer, and I’m nearing the one year anniversary of setting the project aside.
I keep meaning to begin.
But I don’t.
It’s not that I don’t love the story; I do. I love the story, and I think about it all the time. I think about the characters; not just the fact that they’re all frozen in place, waiting for me. I think about what they would do in various situations. I miss them like friends. And I want to sit down and visit with them. But then I think about how I first need to do X and then Y and then I’ll definitely get to them after I finish Z…
I never finish Z. There always seems to be a new Z.
But this article scared me; the idea that something I’ve done all my life, for which I’ve gotten multiple degrees and taught and published 3 novels won’t be there forever if I let that skill sit there, unused. I know why I’m not working on the book: Because it’s hard. If I wanted to make time for it, I would. But it’s easier to point out reasons for why I can’t work on the book than it is to sit still with a project and go through that terrible re-entry period.
You know those days: You sit staring at the screen, trying to find your groove. Sometimes it only takes a day or two to find it. Sometimes it can take weeks before I find my rhythm again.
But that’s it. It has to happen. I need to make a half hour for it every day. Just 30 minutes. Not that much time, when you think about it. This skill matters to me. I need to snatch it off the endangered skill list.
What will you snatch off your endangered skill list?