Writer’s Blues in E-flat

I look back at some of my projects – the early stuff – the ones I somehow know will probably never be finished. These drafts piled up neatly in a box with scattered thoughts or random stories that have done their duty. I created them for the purpose of learning the craft of writing, like a sculptor chiseling away for hours to end up with a decapitated mold or a potter with disfigured pottery. And like the undead, the unfinished continues to haunt me, taunt me or daunt me – a twisted aspect of my unconscious afraid to hear what my conscious has to say: “I’m done with you. I won’t look at you. I’ll get rid of you.” But I would never dare do that.

The material is not all rubbish as there are elements to fish out – elements here or there such as characters, metaphors or descriptions – elements to incorporate into current or future projects. Besides, writers should not delete traces of their history. Silly, embarrassing or amateurish does not matter, it is still my history and it should remain documented, for reference and as a measure of progress.

Expectations betrayed me. Disappointment chases me. Self-pity at having labored so hard in futility hinders my ability. It is all so irrational – because rationally this is all a part of the learning process and what it takes to improve my writing – but I feel like a shattered mirror and the shards show me sliced up and cut up.

Fast-forward. There are projects approaching their penultimate draft. Others are rife with ideas and substance to see them through. All geared towards completion with the anticipation of being sent out into the world of letters. Ironically, these stories pester me more. They feel ready, set and not to go. Another draft to tweak this or that. I am spent, empty, in a creative drought.

A writer’s life is hard work, hard work, hard work  – to generate material, improve the craft, write draft after draft after draft, agonize, repeat the process and eventually produce a finished piece.

I love you writing. I hate you writing. You pull me apart. You bring me together.

Samir

(A Personal Essay)

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25 Comments to “Writer’s Blues in E-flat”

  1. I really liked the last line. I also liked your thought on documenting your history regardless of how “bad” you might think it’s been written.

  2. There can be no doubt from reading this post that you can write. I think it’s good to put things to one side but never to throw them away – you’ll regret it later.

  3. Blues in E-Flat. Depends. On the piano, E-flat is user friendly. On the guitar, E-flat is one to avoid. To quote Ellington, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Like your stuff.

    • It’s funny you mention that on the guitar E-flat is one to avoid, because my girlfriend played it and I thought: sounds just about right… somewhere in the middle, a little blue.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting :-)

  4. I can definitely relate to that. Only in my case, I am not as diligent and tend to make just mental notes… You know what it means. They are all trash sooner or later. (Sooner.) ;-)
    No matter, no matter. Making even the shortest of notes is a great way to keep a bank of thoughts, ideas, prompts to be used (or not) in the future. Plus, I totally agree – it is a nice track of one’s history… As a teacher, I kind of appreciate the act of following one’s (or others’ for that matter) learning curve…
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Thanks. I have to say that while I always relied on mental notes years ago, aging and being ever more busy no longer allows me the ability to remember as well as I used to. So if I really value an idea I have, I better put it down somewhere within a few days or it’s for ever gone. :-(

      • Absolutely! Now it’s the same with me – my memory cannot be relied on any longer (at least not as it used to be…). Good ideas are definitely worth the effort of jotting down…

      • You’re seemingly not alone. Happens to me all the time, I know about it, but somehow fail to prevent it. So many ideas gone by… :-(

  5. I have boxes stored in the roof at my parents house. When I read back, which is rarely because I’ll sit there for hours and hours when I do, I tend to think of the writer as being someone different to me. In my head, the concept of me as a writer is clearly split into the past and the present.

  6. It sounds like you need a break for rejuvenation, Samir! Even if you only take a morning or afternoon off, go do something fun and/or relaxing, and come back fresh. Don’t fret about the early stuff — take what you think you can use now and put it back in the box.It wll still be there when you go looking for it again.

    • Hi Jeanette, hope you’re feeling a bit better?

      Yes I do need a break. My girlfriend keeps telling me that… every day! I’m a workaholic. I can’t sit still. I have to always be doing something: writing, reading critically, reviewing, editing but also the more mundane, cooking, cleaning, organizing, or on the profession: training, teaching… Hm, good advice but difficult to do. I’ll work on it.

  7. LOL. I have that same love hate relationship. But it’s a passion filled relationship with writing. Some things can get pulled out of the drawer and reworked later too. :)

  8. Writing seems to be one of the few (if only) professions where hoarding isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes there might be a kernel of an idea that wasn’t fully fleshed out that might be worth revisiting, or maybe something as simple as a great character name in a mediocre, not-ready-for-public-eyes story. Although I can see the validity of blairerotica’s point too.

    • Yes, absolutely. I have that often when I have the courage to look at the said box. I always find something useful to use in a current project and I always surprise myself at having written so many different things…

      Thanks for commenting Graham.

  9. I’m going to write on wednesday, I’m going to write on wednesday, I’m going to write on wednesday.

  10. E-flat is an interesting key… not quite sad, but not enthusiastic like C. Consider that those fragments that contain useful things might have served their purpose as they are, by leading you to where you are now. If you throw them away, they aren’t gone, as they remain part of you. Leaving them as clutter can keep your creative energy from flowing, and destruction is often an important part of the creative process. It can be frightening but cathartic. Let go and move on.

    • True. I actually do this with every facet of my life… de-clutter, except with my writing. With previous drafts or abandoned projects, the closest I can come to simulating the feel of ‘letting go’ is keeping them locked away in an organized fashion in a box. No, really, I can’t throw them away.

      Thanks for the advice ;-)

  11. I’ve got one of those drawers too. “I love you writing. I hate you writing. You pull me apart. You bring me together.” Samir, I don’t know how you could have said it better.

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