Monday, March 18, 2013

Grabbing The Golden Fleece of Writing: What's Your Great Prize?

Grab your writing treasure and run with it.
"Colchian" by "MO-ffie" on
A small, bold figure grabs a glistening prize right out from under a malevolent beast, and then makes off with it.  What is this amazing treasure that is worth such a risk?  What is the true nature of the monster?  When can our hero pause, panting, heart pounding, and regard the reward in their hands?

This fantastic image has been a favorite of mine for some time now, as I've been contemplating the questions above within the context of writing.  Writing is a tremendous risk, and each of us has a different idea of what is worth that risk, and what the true "prize" can be.  Consider for a moment - what are the greatest challenges or barriers that you face regarding your writing?  What treasures do you hope to gain?  When will you have time to sit back and enjoy what you have earned, or do you feel you have to keep on running?

As a writer with mental illness issues, I often find my greatest challenge and my greatest treasure are exactly the same thing.  That is - writing itself.  I love writing, it is its own reward.  At the same time, writing is scary, even terrifying, and seems to dog my heels with its fangs and fiery breath.  In my image, writing is both the fleece and the monster.

I'm working on a short story right now that I can't finish.  My mind, as is often the case, is filled with self-doubt and even self-sabotage.  I can't get the negative "voices" to give it a rest.  They act as if they know so much more than the positive voices.  "This story is dumb.  Why did you want to write about this in the first place?  This one isn't any fun to read.  Are you sure you want to deal with 'that' issue in this piece?  This story sounds trite.  You don't know even understand what you are writing about, what are you trying to do here?  This is a waste of time.  You aren't doing anything important by writing this story."  And on and on.  These are the "voices" of writing for me, borne from a history of anxiety and depression disorders.  These are the voices that follow me like a angry monster.

In the scenario of me and my short story, the beast has managed to get its teeth into the fleece.  I am in a tug-of-war trying to retrieve it and make off.  I feel like the tiny figure, and the monster seems so huge.  I have to continually prompt the positive voices, and keep fighting.  I need to be bold, to continue to take risks, to ignore the dark ideas that would kill every story before it even gets half-made.  I need to yank hard, grab my fleece and run like crazy, not looking back for an instant.  Take another look at that piece of art.  That beast is scary.

It's possible that if I thought the beast would stop chasing me if I dropped the fleece, that I would do it.  You know, give up, toss the prize away into the monster's mouth, and be free of it.  But I know that isn't true.  That monster follows me no matter what treasure I seek, however small.  So I might as well try to grab the biggest and the shiniest - writing - and run like crazy.

So what were your answers?  What is your goal, your great treasure to be found in the context of writing?  What is the monster chasing you and trying to snatch your prize away?  How do you win this race, and finally have your moment of glee, throwing your fleece about your shoulders and dancing in the sun?

Image Credit:   "Colchian" by "MO-ffie" on
My comments:  I have always loved this piece of art.  There is an intense sense of motion and urgency.  Along with that, there is a hint of humor, since the hero is so very tiny - a stick figure with a fleece running for their life from a gratuitously massive monster.

1 comment:

Virginia said...

Many times I find it easier to be sneaky. "I'm not trying to take the fleece back; I'm just standing here."

"I'm not writing, I'm just taking notes."

"Well, I guess I can't write right now, but I'll just stick my notebook right there while I chop this onion."

The Big Gun of this method is:

"Oh no, I'm not allowed to write now. Now is the time I'm supposed to [do horrible chore]."

Brain: "But why clean the tub? Writing is better!"

"No, it's tub-cleaning time now."

Brain: "Noooo ... you can finish that story..."

"Oh, *sigh* okay brain. You win this time."