Here goes …

3 Mar

For the past six months I’ve been reading, blogging, traveling, interviewing, recording, reading some more, thinking, blogging, and then more reading. Everything but actually sitting down to begin writing this book for real.

So now, I’ve decided, it’s time.

The hardest thing for any writer engaged in a long, research-intensive project is to know when to set aside the books and articles and interview transcripts and just start writing. Because writing is hard work–much harder than reading or doing an interview. For all its benefits, reading is essentially passive. Interviewing is more interactive, but you’re still allowing the interviewee do most of the work. But writing … crafting solid sentences and paragraphs and chapters … that’s where the true toil lies.

Writing is daunting because as soon as you start, you run up against what you don’t know. Even the most well-planned project is riddled with uncertainty. All those keen, incisive thoughts and ideas buzzing around your head? On paper they may come across as absolute twaddle. The hour-long interview you thought would yield such juicy quotes now seems dry and lifeless. All the reading and research you’ve done to prepare for this moment? It’s a blur of facts and figures and other people’s opinions.

That’s writing, and it’s often painful. And the only thing to do, the only possible way to overcome the inertia and doubt and abject fear, is to stop thinking and just start writing. It may not come easily at first, it may sputter along for a while. But if you’ve done your homework, if you’ve prepared and earned the right to begin … then eventually the narratives begins to flow, words come easily, and then you’ve got something. As difficult as writing can be, there’s no better feeling than reaching the point where it seems to be happening on its own. When you’re in a groove, there’s no better affirmation of your intelligence, skill, and self-worth.

So that’s where I am. It’s time to begin, to come to grips with what I don’t know, with where the gaps lie, and what I need to do to begin filling them in.

Wish me luck.

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