Friday, May 13, 2011

Ambition vs Ability

I have a story to write. I have a premise, and a couple of characters, and the vaguest semblance of a plot. I have a climax, and something like an ending. I have a beginning and a middle, too.

What I don't have is the nerve to start.

I'm afraid that I am not up to the task of writing this story. What I have in my head elicits the same emotions and images of beauty and darkness that I've seen in the top magazines and anthologies, but I don't know if I can make it work on the page. I'm afraid to even try. What if I ruin it?

Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever held on to a story for fear that you won't do it right? Actors have stage fright, and "performance anxiety" has become a euphemism for erectile dysfunction, so what's our neat little term? Hackaphobia? Trite Fright?

Literary Shrinkage?

Help me out here. What do you do in those moments of doubt, when you're not sure you're good enough?


  1. Not sure this'll help but I've come to writing from printmaking and have learnt that very often it's those I think "oh well I've messed this up already so it doesn't matter what I do to it, I can afford to experiment, to try other things" that eventually come good. So you might find that by NOT thinking "This'll be my next masterpiece" you start writing your ideas down, they WON'T get ruined, promise, you will end with something going somewhere.
    Worth a try, surely?

  2. I'm sure you're right. I've trunked stories I wasn't particularly happy with only to dust them off months later and think they're pretty damn good after all, so there's precedent for that theory, at least.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Hi Joe,

    exactly the same thing happened to me about a month ago. I came up with a wonderful premise for a SF story. It was just perfect, and I didn't want to start it.

    I put it off for about a week, then knuckled down.

    I was kinda dissapointed in the outcome. Ha. Not very uplifiting, eh? The thing is we can only do what we can do. And take comfort in the fact that as writers we're the worst judges of our work.

    Hey, who knows, maybe it was a masterpeice, after all.

    How goes it with you. Have you writ it yet?

  4. Haha. Oddly, that IS rather uplifting. It's good to know that a successful writer like you goes through the same stuff I do.

    As for the story, no, I haven't gotten to it yet, but at least I have a good reason: I've been writing something else!

    There was a time in my life when I would have shied away from writing a story and stop writing altogether. Looks like those days are done, thank frack.

    Thanks for the comment!