After a year of not writing, I am back in front of the keyboard, working on book #26. I use the term working loosely for two reasons. First, because like most writers, I am finding every excuse in the book to procrastinate and do everything else but write. I tolerate that to a certain degree because I know that my subconscious is working on my book, even when I am not tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard. Second, I use that term loosely because after not writing for a year, I am finding that my quality of writing has gone downhill tremendously.
In that, I take consolation in Ernest Hemingway’s famous quote: “The first draft of anything is shit.” Anne LaMott has an entire chapter in her book Bird by Bird where she talks about the shitty draft and how important it is to the process of writing. You have to have something to work with, after all. After writing since the 1980s, I thought I was getting pretty good, but lately I think I lost most of that ability.
Right now, I have written the Prologue to my new, currently unnamed book, as well about 3 1/2 pages of the first chapter. The pages are coming slowly, the words are coming even slower, and I am wondering if I should just call it quits one of these days. That’s what I think when I see what I am producing. But the point is to keep producing something, even if it is, as Hemingway and LaMott call it, shit. At some point, as the joke goes, there’s bound to be a pony in there.