Monday, June 25, 2007

More on not getting going

I have always had difficulties bringing projects to completion. I get blocked by perfectionism and fear of rejection and ridicule. How many CD projects have I started and not completed? I get to a certain point and my mind just won't focus on it anymore.

I've decided to be as open as possible about my process because I know I'm far from the only one who has this sort of thing come up; perhaps writing about how I work through this will help someone else. And I've been getting some nice messages of support and some good suggestions, all of which are welcome.

Perhaps what I need is a good editor. I've written a lot of stuff, about 150 pages. Surely in the midst of that is a good short book. (If you want to read it, send me an email, ericedberg @ gmail dot com, and I'll send you the file with a table of contents and everything.)

I wrote earlier today about clarifying my intended audience, purpose, etc., but I can't get much done. It's not that I don't have the mental energy to write; I'm thinkng and blogging like crazy, reading, watch improv-related DVDs, etc. This has triggered all sorts of feelings of depression and inadequacy, not uncommon to writers, I understand, and I even created a private blog where I'm working out that stuff (and a search for a new therapist may be on the way, too.

Part of what's going on is that I love the process of spontaneous writing, what I can do in a blog. What's most blogging if not improvising? And the thing about improvisations is that they are just that, quick, ephemeral, spontaneous, usually quickly forgotten, and rarely if ever reshaped and remolded. It's about the process, not a product.

Now I've improvised a lot about improvisation. But now taking those improvisations and turning them into a book, a composition, something with form, something revised, something perfected, well it seems both daunting and, actually boring.

When I was writing my doctoral dissertation, it was much the same way, although that thing could be writen formally and dryly and I knew no one but my supervisory committee, and perhaps a few other doctoral students looking for models, would ever read it. I felt no pressure to make it interesting or compelling.

Am I just bored with it? Am I just not that interested in writing a book any longer? Will some part of me just not allow myself to complete a big project?

I did write some introductory material today, and I went through and labeled most of the posts here, to make it easier to categorize and organize them.

I have a friend who is a real-life professional writer who writes a column in a major magazine and publishes books and all that. Since he manages to finishe the sort of thing I've started, maybe he can give me some advice. Or at least empathy.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I got yer empathy right here. Maybe you can draw upon your improvisations for some perspective. It's not the end result of extemporaneous composition that is compelling, but rather the sincerity of the gesture. The very human-ness of it is what draws the ear, and in the end, the spirit to improvised music. Don't delay the dissemination of your work by trying to imagine every possible eventuality. There will be issues, of course, but taking a cheese grater to your confidence won't prevent them. Your thoughts are absolutely infused with sincerity and well-considered concepts. You are introspective enough to avoid all of the pitfalls you worry about. I look forward to reading and supporting your work. Chin up, Sedberg.