Midnight Melodrama

     It’s midnight and I’m utterly alone, for once. So write! My conscience tells me, before daylight and daylight concerns return to steal time away. I have an unfinished manuscript waiting on the shelf, sticking out from between a recipe book and a King James Bible. I haven’t touched it for months, though I glance at it from time to time, guiltily. And then let my gaze slide away, my conscience slip back into the slick mire where it habitually cowers, easily, comfortably. I think I am afraid of taking that manuscript down off the shelf, of flipping through it and seeing again the last dozen or so crossed-out pages, baldly spelling out the words “mediocrity” and “failure”. Words that make me shiver with fear and shame, and haunt me with their ghastly echoes in the far reaches of the night. For they are the only words I can summon: nothing else moves me when I try to write. I know the plot of my story, I see it unfold vividly in my mind when I close my eyes, delectable to me in its detailed richness, and yet, when I search for the words that will make it all incarnate, all I find is emptiness. The blank, white page staring up at me, jeering. Saying, you can’t write, you just like to fantasize about writing. It’s a chimera you love, compounded of the handwritings of poets past, and the clicking of old typewriters, and sensual wreaths of cigarette smoke, out of which float, disembodied, rapt transfigured heads and fevered eyes. They were so certain, those other writers, of what they wanted to say. While I struggle, and struggle, and slowly, daily, give up the battle. Don’t I already know full well that manuscript will not budge from its shelf tonight, or tomorrow? I knew it before I even asked the question. My fate is to gaze nightly upon it and feel it raze all arrogance, all pride, all self-confidence. And to hold within my hands the bitter knowledge that I could, if only I would, but that my will is fundamentally weak, and that words will therefore always elude me and be the rightful property of my betters.

© Florence Berlioz 2012

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About Miss Darcy's Library

I love books - buying books, reading books, discussing books, and generally admiring them from all angles (except the e-book). I also love tea, roses, and my dogs, and seldom pass up an opportunity to slip them into the conversation.
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14 Responses to Midnight Melodrama

  1. limr says:

    Evil self-doubt!

    An excerpt from an interview with Dorothy Parker:
    “INTERVIEWER: Do you think Hollywood destroys the artist’s talent?
    PARKER: No, no, no. I think nobody on earth writes down. Garbage though they turn out, Hollywood writers aren’t writing down. That is their best. If you’re going to write, don’t pretend to write down. It’s going to be the best you can do, and it’s the fact that it’s the best you can do that kills you. I want so much to write well, though I know I don’t, and that I didn’t make it. But during and at the end of my life, I will adore those who have.”
    http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4933/the-art-of-fiction-no-13-dorothy-parker

    Our demons are never far from us, but that doesn’t mean they are right. If your fiction is anything like your writing here, then you’re better than you or the demons think you are.

    Write the book. If it’s really no good then you’ll know it in the daylight and not just when the shadows turn the whispered doubts into shouts. But we have to do the best we can and tell the demons to shut the hell up. Maybe I’ll never be able to write like Hemingway or [insert your literary hero(ine) here], but then again, Hemingway never would have been able to write like us either 🙂

  2. Louise says:

    Beautiful post. One day you will be seized by the urge to write and then I’m sure it will all come pouring out. XXX

  3. Anbolyn says:

    These ruminations are far better than anything I will ever write. And I’m okay with that! I think we all have different strengths and i try not compare my weaknesses to others’ strengths. I don’t think you should either because you are a wonderful writer and will create something that could only have come from you. And it will be great!

  4. Pingback: Music in the Woods | Miss Darcy's Library

  5. Oh, what rubbish! How come over *three hundred people* want your articles sent to their in-boxes every time you post something if you can’t write, then? You know perfectly well you can write and to an extremely high standard and all this squelching about in self-doubt is just nonsense. (Actually, I’ve just written about this sort of thing on my blog if you were interested http://www.moulderslane.wordpress.com).

    The whole point of being a writer is to express *your own* voice, not be like someone else.

    Have you seen ‘Shakespeare in Love’ – there’s a very funny take on writers comparing themselves to others – Shakespeare basically wants to be as popular as Christopher Marlowe was at the time, which is pretty ironic.

    • I love that movie!! It’s one of those I turn to when I feel bad 🙂
      Actually, most of the time I don’t indulge in too much wallowing and self-pity; I disapprove of it quite as much as you do, as a rule… It just got the better of me that time!
      Thanks for the link: I’ll hop over right now and have a look…

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