Writer’s Blog: With All The Enthusiasm Of A Beginner

I sat down a few days ago and began to write. I wrote and wrote and wrote. The words flew from my mind faster than I could get them down. Before I knew what had happened I’d committed six thousand words to manuscript. And I was happy with all of them.

Hobo stove on the Black Sea coast

The next day I sat down again and nothing happened. I read back over the chapters I’d penned the previous day. They still read well but it felt as though someone else had written them. I was unable to understand what had changed. Had something gone wrong?

A few days ago I wriggled into a pair of Vibram FiveFingers shoes. I’m not going to bang on about them except to say that they allow you to walk, run, climb and scramble to all intents and purposes barefoot, without having to worry about broken glass and sharp rocks and street grime. I love going barefoot, so the minimal, utilitarian design sounded rather appealing.

So I went for a twenty-five minute test-run. This would usually be no big deal, and it felt fantastic to be in touch with the ground beneath my feet as I ran.

The next day I was unable to walk. My calves had seemingly decided to replace themselves with large hunks of red-hot iron. I couldn’t believe that I’d managed to dart about the empty streets of early-morning Yerevan for half an hour the previous day. Now I could barely hobble to the bathroom.

The point is that eagerness to try something new can be quickly tempered by the unforseen realities of doing it. I was incredibly enthusiastic to write this book, and I still am, just as I am still eager to make a transition to barefoot running. It feels like the natural thing to do, and I’m willing to trust my gut (and legs) on these two things.

But I can see now that the process is going to take time and dedication, for writing a fully-formed book is going to take a lot more than just ploughing through the word-count until done. Somehow the crafting process will have to work simultaneously at the level of the book and of the individual word.

I guess that the best I can do for now is to plug away at writing the story elements, and hope that I can remain objective while looking later on at the overall message, with the ruthless eye of an editor.

6 Responses to “Writer’s Blog: With All The Enthusiasm Of A Beginner”

  1. Tyler

    Hey Tom,

    Congrats on starting your book! I can relate to a lot of what you’ve written about over-enthusiasm when tackling new things 🙂 What’s moderation again?

    Anyway, my main reason for commenting was to share a link with you:
    http://www.amazon.com/Bird-Some-Instructions-Writing-Life/dp/0385480016

    I think you’ll find this book hilarious and helpful with your process, and it can be finished in a single slightly obsessive sitting! You might want to try a little of that moderation thing to let it all sink in, though.

    Looking forward to reading the fruits of your labor,

    Tyler

    Reply
    • Tom

      Thank you for the recommendation, looks quirky and interesting 🙂

      Another one for the post-first-draft pre-rewrite pile!

      Reply
  2. Nigel

    Mate, did warn you about the 5 fingers. Easy does it to begin with.

    Reply
    • Tom

      Indeed you did. And the first run was so much fun I got carried away!

      I’ve now recovered and pulled in the running a bit – no more leg pain and beginning to build back distance. I have to go out very early to avoid turning heads, as I think I must be the only FiveFingers wearer in the entire country!

      Reply
  3. Bob P.

    I did the same in VFFs, but have run exclusively in them forma year. I am logging my best run times now. Stick with it!

    Reply
    • Tom

      I will. I think they’re great, but I hope I didn’t get a size too small – my 2nd toes seem to be too long as they are a bit squidged in, unlike all my other toes which are fine…

      Reply

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