Switching on the idea machine – then what?
Getting ideas for an article or story has never caused me distress. Unless, of course, I have far too many than I can positively flesh out for submission. Almost anything will trigger a writer’s response in me, setting off my mental notebook with neural pen doing the scribbling.
In that regard I’m no different than any other writer, regardless of genre. I wonder, though, if I’m different in that I tend to get too upset with myself because I can’t take every idea to its ultimate fruition in some immediate way. A part of me feels insulted and distressed when I can’t get a 1000 word piece researched, written, edited, and ready for submission in a single afternoon with time left over to do editing on one of my book manuscripts.
Yes, I do know that such is a completely unrealistic goal. But personal expectations are seldom rational or realistic. We have been described, after all, as either gods or peons in our own minds. Sorry, I read that once years ago in a treatise about psychological self-evaluations. But, in a sense it may well be true to a small degree.
Moms expect themselves to be SuperMom, capable of taxiing kids, teams, husbands, etc. to various appintments, game practices, music lessons, scout mettings and the like all the while planning a dinner party for the next night to which her boss and his wife are invited. That doesn’t even attend the question of being a goumet cook, procurer of bargains fit for a king, and having an active social calendar. And what about the cupcakes she’s expected to bring tomorrow for her 2nd grader’s class afternoon snack?
Who said those were rational expectations. However, our society has somehow encouraged women to believe and expect such things of themselves. Men have their own set of expectations. Between being the major breadwinner for the family in a shrinking economy, etc., etc., etc. and being a loving, husband and father, it’s a miracle that marriages have any stability at all. You get the drift and probably watch Oprah as much as I do. The subject is out there for all to see.
So why wouldn’t a new writer trying to compete with established ones think that there were never enough hours in the day nor enough talent in the brain to be able to pull the stunt off. What about all the marketing that has to be learned and networking done and making arrangements to go to schools, ad infinitum.
There you have my dilemma. I was trained to be a perfectionist by two of the best at that expectation. My folks. Once it’s been drilled into your brain for dozens of years, switching it off in nigh on to impossible. Oh, I am getting better gradually. I no longer toss out every first draft I write on a story or article. I keep it as a second draft instead on the off chance that it can be salvaged with a different angle and used for a different market. I no longer hold onto things forever in the belief that it couldn’t possibly be good enough for whoever receives it. I now let the piece go out to editors.
So here I am with mental and physical noteboks filled with awesome ideas and not enough time to get them all written down. What’s a girl to do? Do I hold onto them on an off chance that I will get to them later? Do I toss them in the circular file? Or, perhaps I should combine several of them, take different angles from each and write a piece encompassing them all with each one as a separate element or subplot. You know, that might just work. It would create diversity within the piece, too.
Hmmm. That could really be interesting. It could be done with either fiction or nonfiction. I’ll have to investigate the plausibility of that scenario.
Thank you. Without explaining it to you, I might never have come up with this possible solution. And a helpful one, at that.
I hope you have a productive, reasoning day tomorrow. Perhaps you will come up with the be-all-and-end-all book idea that you’ve been waiting for for what seems like forever. Have fun and good writing.