The Sullen Wrestler Challenge

I don't know about you, fellow writers, but I am never satisfied with what I write. And this morsel about the Four Courts Dublin as per my previous blog is no exception. I am truly grateful for the time people have taken to read and even to make the additional effort in commenting on what I have written. It does lift my heart when I see that some thoughtful person has said something in response to my attempt at describing an event on a truly awful winter's day of nearly seven years ago in connection with the fairly mechanical operation of taking a photo - such comments really do 'add value' to my existence and I am buoyed up by them. Thank you. 
As an aside, I revised this article 19 (yes, you read correctly, nineteen) times before it became partly acceptable to me. More about this later. 

I agree entirely with the sentiments so ably expressed by Barbara Froman in her recent article about plagiarism in which she goes on to describe the challenges associated with the activity of writing. When reading this I said to myself, "That's exactly how I feel. Barbara has hit the nail on the head of the remorseless struggle when writing." If it reads well, then probably the author shed blood, sweat and tears in the creation. Other writers have talked openly and cogently about their battles to tease out the correct word, the well-formed sentence, the smooth-flowing paragraph and then the page that sits well within the tale being conjured up from the imagination. But the truth is that writing is a bit like a wrestling match with a sullen opponent who is of inexorable strength ready to cast aside your nebulous inspiration, your fragile dreams, your nervous first attempts at drafting those incomplete ideas on paper for the very first time. So easily our first endeavours into this magical world of the creative can be thrown off course and wrecked on the needle-sharp rocks that represent the repetitive reality of our daily existence. English teacher admonitions about mixed metaphors come to mind all of a sudden - I can't imagine why! 

And the above reference to numerous revisions relates to how I try to put down my ideas on paper as it were aiming for lucidity - not always successfully I hasten to add - but here goes: often ideas for writing come to me visually, a bit like a film or video that plays out a single short episode - often with dialogue and varied angled views - or even a complete story unfolds in the realms of my filmic imagination and I rejoice in its fluency, the scintillating precision of the story as it clips along at a fair pace and I enjoy the 'ride' so much. Then I awake from my (day)dream and very quickly the finely-textured fabric of my story begins to unravel. As fast as I can, I begin to write, often in vain, attempting to recapture the excitement and magic of the story I had swirling around so effortlessly in my head perhaps just moments before. So I write and I write and I write and I write endeavoring to recollect the finely-tuned clarity of my dreams where I hope a story worth telling can be brought to the attention of readers in search of a decent tale.

But the truth is that it takes real, honest-to-goodness stickability to see the whole process through from that first tentative draft to the ultimate nirvana of publication when your newly-minted book takes on a life of its own. You then embark on another journey - that of being a published author - but that's a future story to be told.  

Comments 6

 
Ken Hartke on Wednesday, 27 July 2016 16:33

"... often ideas for writing come to me visually..." I fully understand this -- my primary "hobby" now is photography but I don't consider writing in the same way. I will see something in the real world...whether I have my camera or not... and then immediately start wrapping words around it. It is the visual cue that most often gets my attention. A picture is worth a thousand words...but not always in the way that phrase was intended.

"... often ideas for writing come to me visually..." I fully understand this -- my primary "hobby" now is photography but I don't consider writing in the same way. I will see something in the real world...whether I have my camera or not... and then immediately start wrapping words around it. It is the visual cue that most often gets my attention. A picture is worth a thousand words...but not always in the way that phrase was intended.
Nicholas Mackey on Tuesday, 02 August 2016 22:16

Many thanks for commenting Ken - much appreciated.

Many thanks for commenting Ken - much appreciated.
Katherine Gregor on Thursday, 28 July 2016 10:54

Yes, I remember that you're never quite pleased with what you write... but, Nicholas, sometimes that's an unconscious fear of failure (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, pop psychology). So have faith and... leap.

Here's something by William Hutchinson Murray:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!"
(The "Goethe couplet" referred to here is from an extremely loose translation of Goethe's Faust lines 214-30 made by John Anster in 1835.)

Yes, I remember that you're never quite pleased with what you write... but, Nicholas, sometimes that's an unconscious fear of failure (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, pop psychology). So have faith and... leap. Here's something by William Hutchinson Murray: "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!" (The "Goethe couplet" referred to here is from an extremely loose translation of Goethe's Faust lines 214-30 made by John Anster in 1835.)
Nicholas Mackey on Tuesday, 02 August 2016 22:17

Thank you Katia for the generous encouragement.

Thank you Katia for the generous encouragement.
Stephen Evans on Saturday, 30 July 2016 20:13

I posted about my own struggles with writing just before reading yours - interesting the different metaphors we use to describe this phenomenon.

I posted about my own struggles with writing just before reading yours - interesting the different metaphors we use to describe this phenomenon.
Nicholas Mackey on Tuesday, 02 August 2016 22:18

Stephen - thanks for commenting and I agree with your use of metaphor.
The struggle continues!

Stephen - thanks for commenting and I agree with your use of metaphor. The struggle continues!
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