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Help! I’ve got Writer’s Inertia*!

 (*From the Latin “iners” which means idle or lazy.)

There’s no excuse for it really. I’m fit (relatively) and healthy (relatively). I own a computer that almost never crashes with an English keyboard that has no sticky or missing keys. I have at least two word-processors that will format my words into a staggering array of fonts and styles including “emboss”, “engrave”, and even “hidden” (why would anyone ever need that?). Last night I had six hours of sleep, which is a lot for me, so I feel rested and alert. I am not overly thirsty nor am I hungry. I have no persistent aches or pains. There really is no excuse.

I think the problem is that I am in that strange twilight (not the book) zone where I desperately want to continue with a novel, but can’t focus because I am waiting for a finished manuscript to be read by my beta victims readers. My mind can’t seem to shake that heady mix of hope and dread that takes me back to my childhood days when I would proudly present my latest work of art to a parent or teacher in the hope of eliciting  a gasp of joy and amazement (look at the mastery of the crayon strokes, and those colors!) while secretly knowing that the legs were too short and that I had not stayed inside the rather wobbly lines.

I am happy with the completed story in that it came out the way I hoped it would. The plot moves the way I wanted it to; the characters interact in a fashion that seems realistic; the tension I wanted to inject seems to be there. And yet I am also dreadfully unhappy with it because, being of an artistic bent, I tend to be over-critical of my own stuff. For the past two weeks (since I copy/pasted it over for scrutiny) I have been unable to think about anything else. I keep loading my new novel and reading the last piece so that I can continue, but the words will not come. It is as if there is a force field over the keyboard. I have the key in the ignition but the engine will not spark. I have shoulder to the wheel but the cart will not budge. My nose is well and truly pressed against the grind-stone but the ox whose job it is to make it turn is on holiday or sick or possibly just asleep. Metaphors are multiplying in my head like seagulls behind a fishing trawler…

I call it writer’s inertia because it’s not like I can’t write at all; I’m writing this right now. The problem is that I’m in a state of motion but don’t have the willpower to alter the direction of that motion. I can write, but not what I should be writing. Last night I was sitting at a window looking out at some horses walking along in the twilight (not the book) and wondered what the future will bring. It’s all in God’s hands, I know, but I can’t help wonder: Will my story ever see a bookshelf? Will people like what they read? Will it glorify God the way I want it to? I hope so, but there’s no use fretting over such things. Faith in God also means letting Him take the lead along a precarious and sometimes scary road.

Well thanks for listening. They say a problem shared is a problem halved, or something like that. I think I just heard the engine tick over, the cart shifted a little, and the ox has woken up. I’m going to load my story and smash through that force field if it’s that last thing I do today, and I’m not going to worry at all about what my beta readers are thinking. Well, maybe just a little bit ;-).

About P.A.Baines

P.A.Baines writes computer programs for a living but would much rather be writing Christian speculative fiction, which he does whenever he gets the opportunity. Educated in Africa, he is studying towards a degree in Creative Writing through Buckinghamshire New University in England. He enjoys asking "what if?" but is tired of how speculative fiction deals with religion in general and the God of the Bible in particular. His stories are for Christians who enjoy science fiction but who normally avoid the genre because of its tendency towards an atheistic world-view. His aim is to write entertaining and thought-provoking stories that stretch the imagination, but which keep God in His rightful place as Lord over all creation. P.A.Baines is British but currently lives in a small corner of the Netherlands with his wife and two children and various wildlife. He spends what little spare time he has keeping fit, watching films, and playing computer games with his children. He does most of his reading via audio books, which he listens to while commuting to and from work on his trusty bicycle. He speaks reasonable Dutch and is in the process of learning French.

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