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July 24, 2003: Stumbling block

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I have felt vaguely unsettled these past few days. I suppose I could blame it on the weather, but mainly it has to do with the fact that I have this feeling I should be writing. In fact I feel as if I *need* to be writing. The problem is, I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to be writing about.

Actually, that's not entirely true. I know what I should be writing about. Unfortunately, however, I can't seem to manage to actually write. Months ago Richard and I hashed out the plot of what promised to be a pretty interesting book (that – surprisingly enough for both of us, what with our normal choice of writing topics – has nothing whatsoever to do with science fiction or fantasy, and everything to do with just normal life). But after getting the first chapter out of the way, I cannot seem to churn out another word on it. The story is there in my head, all jumbled up in circles and knots, and if I let myself think about it I can actually see the characters; hear them talking and watch the expressions on their faces. I know exactly how the main character twists her hands together when she’s distressed and how she sets the line of her mouth when she is determined. I know the way her friend – the strong one – sounds when she laughs and how her hair sweeps forward across her face when she leans forward to say something important. I know how the sitting room looks of the oldest friend – the prim and perfectionist one, how it closes in on the rest of them when they sit there, and the color of the décor and the flowers in the vase on the little table under the lace curtained window. But when I sit down with paper or a blank screen on the computer, or whatever other medium I might find, I cannot get a single bit of it out of my head.

I used to write a lot when I was younger. I always carried a spiral-bound notebook with me, and sometimes more than one. I liked the ones with three sections best because it was an easy way to divide work on three different stories. Granted I rarely finished those stories I would work on so diligently – I seem to be cursed with the inability to write middles, and can only reliably churn out beginnings and endings – but I was writing.
There were times when it was all I could do to pay attention in class when all I wanted – needed – to do was to pull out my notebook and write. Characters and conversations and plots would all bombard me and I had to let them out, get them down on paper as fast as I could before I lost them forever.

I don’t know if part of the reason why I cannot seem to write these days is because I have moved away from spiral-bound notebooks and tend to do my composing via keyboard more often than pen. I cannot write by hand as fast as I can type, and my handwriting is frustratingly horrible enough that even if I were to write fast enough, I would never be able to decipher the words once I was done. For that reason alone I have a hard enough time some months making myself write in my paper journal. I'm not sure the spiral-bound notebook is the answer.

I know that eventually something will click and it will come out – this story about these women I can see in my head, or some other story. I know if I am patient enough it will eventually make its way out of my brain and trickle down toward my fingers and allow itself to be captured. I just wish it would happen soon, because I am getting tired of this frustrating need to write things that stubbornly refuse to leave my head.

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