Writing in the Dark


Surprise, surprise. Seriously. I was not only able to write 5 pages this morning, they were actually fairly decent pages to boot. My normal output at 4 in the morning is about 3 pages, maybe a paragraph or two more, but then those are often laboriously produced, not-so-great pages that make me wince even as I type them. I plow on, of course, because that’s what beginning writers with little faith in themselves do, but it’s definitely a struggle.

Today, however, while I didn’t exactly create Shakespearean prose, I’ll be the first to say that those 5 pages weren’t half bad. God knows if they’ll end up in the final draft, but for now I’m happy and astounded that I was able to produce them at all. It really does help to stay with the novel on a regular basis, preferably daily, because it makes it easier to return to it every morning or night and pick up right where you left off. I’m really beginning to understand the characters a little more than I did when I first started, despite the fact that I had full-blown character sketches. It helps that, for the moment, my main characters are taking up most of the room, with only a few minor characters whom I hadn’t developed beforehand popping in for occasional visits.

I think this book about Ray Bradbury that I’m currently reading before bedtime is helping tremendously. I was intrigued by a small book about writing that I found at Borders the other day, a little volume by Bradbury and a comment he made in an interview about how it took him less than a week to write Fahrenheit 451, one of his most well-known classics. I couldn’t believe that a book so compelling could have been produced in so little time, so I wanted to know more about the man as writer.

What inspired me most about his story was how incredibly self-confident he was about his writing, from the time he was a child all through adulthood. He was a gregarious kid and practically crackled with overflowing energy, and he was able to channel all of that into this unbelievable, unshakable faith in his vocation.

I wish I had that self-confidence, if nothing else then at least in my writing. People have told me for years that I write well, but of course the writer is always the last to believe that. I know I can write decent prose, and I know I can churn out pretty good nonfiction, but when it comes to creative fiction, to stories that vigorously challenge one’s mind and sparks the spirit, well, I’m all about self-doubt.

But what was really brilliant about Bradbury’s story was the fact that he never let the dozens and dozens of rejections deter him from his dream of becoming “the greatest writer who ever lived,” and he kept working on his craft and fine-tuning his voice until he got it write (pun intended). And the rest is, well, you know.

So I guess that’s where the energy came from at 4 this morning, despite the long night at work last night. I look at is as an investment into my writing, even if the novel never sees the light of publication. If not this, then the next one. It’s the most important thing, the writing, and while I sometimes forget that, it’s always good to be reminded.


6 thoughts on “Writing in the Dark

  1. Bradbury’s <>Something Wicked This Way Comes<> is one of a select few novels I use to get my brain in prose mode (instead of scripts). I open them up, read a few random pages, and I just feel this great wash of, ‘ah, yes, <>that’s<> how you do it.’Which is not to say I try to mimic Bradbury, but he certainly puts me in the mood.๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I really like this post. Sometimes it is hard as an artist of any kind to maintain confidence in our work. I like how inspired you are to just keep plugging away, in the end this is all we can do. And every once in while, if we are so lucky, at 4 in the morning, we are reminded that we ain’t too bad at this writing thing after all!ruthie black naked – actually you are wrong, Shakespeare did write prose. Check out As You Like It, but there are other examples too. And I’m not confusing prose with blank verse by the way, I’m talking him just writing out them sentences like us normal folk, no iambic pentameter or nothin’! (:->)

  3. Hi, <>Ruthie<>, and thanks for stopping by! I love characters as much as plot and think that for a book to really compel me to purchase and read it, it must have both. I’m not sure I’m much of a character myself, but I do think I have a fairly “weird” imagination (you should check out my dreams sometime, of which I have tons and tons), which I believe is critical for a writer. When I’m writing, I’m totally living in my head. May not be especially healthy, but oh well. As one gets older, one cares less about what others think. ๐Ÿ˜‰Like <>Adrienne<>, I would disagree with you about Shakespeare not writing any prose. While much of his playwriting is in blank verse/iambic pentameter, quite a few passages were written in simple prose. In any case, I was simply making the point that language is a struggle for me, particularly in these early stages of writing fiction as I try to find that elusive voice, and the phrase was meant merely to honor the great Bard for his complete mastery of it.Marilyn, what you wrote was so funny to me because Bradbury admits to doing the same thing when he writes his books. When he was writing <>Fahrenheit 451<>, for example, he did so in the basement of the public library, as they had a roomful of typewriters one could rent by the hour. He would periodically rush upstairs to grab a random book off the shelves, read a few passages, feel inspired, then head back for another grueling period of writing. <>Adrienne<>, thanks for your kind words. I think confidence is something artists struggle with, as even the most gifted ones often harbor crippling self-doubt. Maybe not in their talent — most artists know they have <>that<>, or they wouldn’t work so hard on their craft — but perhaps in their ability to express their creativity in a way that the public would accept and embrace. I know that I’m good, and I know I can write a decent novel, but will it be a novel that anyone will actually read? God only knows.I guess that’s why so many creative types succumb to destructive addictions like alcohol, drugs and sex. The agony of rejection can be so unbearable.And on that happy note… Cheers,Marjorie

  4. Dear Marjorie:Thank you, Sweetie. You’re exactly right about the artwork. The woman’s face is from a pulp novel called THE SINNERS, 1953. We scanned it (we applied to the publisher for permission), since she resembles how I looked in the ’50s. Same with the nude “dirty photo.” My story, RUTHIE BLACK has the same mood of mystery and romance that those books had. Keep reading! Ruthie Black

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