I have a bad case of Blank Screen Fever. Back in the pre-computer days, this might of been thought of as Blank Page Fever. It’s similar to the White Line Fever truckers get when, after driving and staring at that never ending white line down the center of the road, they become mesmerized by it and could end up with their truck’s shiny side down and them in the hospital or, worse, in a coffin.
Blank Screen Fever doesn’t have quite the same physical hazards but it can tear apart your heart and soul and send your self-confidence packing to parts unknown.
I’m an erratic writer. I have no schedule. I write when I write. The rest of the time I’m either thinking about what I’m writing or ignoring it altogether, my nose deep in a book. I have plenty of ideas for my next book, five I could outline to you right off the top of my head.
There’s Bad Bucket and The Church of the Dung God, a piece I started awhile back. It already has about 14,000 words and should be the logical place to go. Then there’s Dust Storms May Exist and a serial killer novel I’ve been toying with, both of which have under 2000 words. I came up with a new idea a week or two back, Cape of Storms, that I like but I have no idea where the plot is going so I’ve set that aside. There’s one more that I think about a lot but will probably never write. Not that I don’t want to. I’m just not sure I have the skill or the patience to pull it off.
The problem is not ideas. It’s getting started on those ideas that is proving difficult.
Back before I published my first novel, I rarely had a problem getting started. I’d get an idea, a title, the end, and off I would go, whether it be short story or novel length. Since being published, something has changed. I noticed the edges of that something when I shifted over to my second novel. The first draft of that was essentially complete so the rewrite was more a massive editing job than a start-from-scratch one. Now, it’s finished and in the hands of my editor and I feel this need to start a new one and that is where I am really feeling the pressure.
Part of this is winter. I don’t do winter well. And part of it is that feeling you get, standing at the bottom of a very tall mountain and knowing you have to get to the top. It’s a daunting thing to start a new novel; finding the time, finding the will, finding the words. It’s enough to make you freeze up like a mouse when the shadow of the hawk passes over. But it’s something more than that this time.
I got some very good reviews of Stealing The Marbles. I can remember while editing Meter Maids Eat Their Young feeling fearful as to whether MM could live up to the reviews STM got. Now, staring at the blank screen that is my third novel, that fear has magnified a hundred fold. I know this is my internal critic (I have an internal editor as well but it only works when I do) nagging at me and trying to tear me down. I know as well that I should send that internal critic packing, perhaps to wherever it is my self-confidence has fled and hope that my self-confidence gets the hint that it is needed back home.
As someone once said, this too shall pass, and I know it will. I just wish to hell it would hurry up.