That First Damn Line

If anyone were to look up from their dinner plates at me at this moment they would see someone on the verge of taking a plastic spoon from her empty soup bowl and gouging her own eyes out.

I’m at a restaurant under the false impression that I am going to be doing some writing this afternoon.

I need to leave my house, I thought. There are too many distractions here. Surely if I go out into the world inspiration will just pour out of me.

Instead I ordered my food, sat down, fitfully read over my first draft, got food, and persisted to languish over a blank document for almost an hour.

Now my food is gone but my frustration remains.

The reason being I can’t think of that first line.

Every good story has an amazing opening hook, one that sinks its teeth into a reader and refuses to let go. The line that’s like a rabid dog, frothing at the mouth, refusing to relent. The harder you try to shake free from it, the more it fights back.

I do not have that line.

I’m blocking.

I have a deadline, but I can’t stop resisting.

I type one line.

No, that’s wrong.

Delete.

I type another.

Wrong.

Delete.

Is this story even worth telling?

Type.

Delete.

Would music help?

Delete.

Should I read some more?

Type.

Delete.

Does anyone else care whether or not I finish this?

Delete.

Cliche.

Delete.

Cheesy.

Delete.

Perhaps the problem is not with the sentence. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the work itself but the expectation I’ve placed on myself.

I try to follow the current. To let the voice and tone of the piece speak through me, nevertheless, there’s that wood pecker of a critic, pecking away at my brain as I type.

If I try to escape, to take a break, I will not come back to it. I  will delay and wait for a perfect day that will never come. A day where I will be free of apprehension and self-doubt.

I wait for it.

I wait for it in the florescent lights, swallowed up by the light sound of chatter and the scraping of silverware on porcelain.

Type.

Delete.

I Can’t Social Media: A Writer’s Quandary

Writers are told more and more these days that they should have a strong presence online. They should branch out through any means possible; stamp their name on as many social media websites as they can.

However, I have been very remiss in this department. Disgracefully so, I would say.

I love writing for my blog, but I just don’t have the heart for Twitter, Snapchat, Bookface, etc.

For a while, I was gaining a steady Twitter following, but I stopped tweeting once I realized just how annoying it is for a multitude of reasons. For one, I’m not politically minded so I don’t care to tweet about politics. I’m not that funny either (dammit, my secret is discovered!) so I spent a majority of my time trying to think of something humorous to say when I couldn’t think of anything. I’m also allergic to platitudes so I don’t want to post generic life-advice either.

For another thing, I’m just not interested in being bombarded with other people’s opinions 24/7 about politics, religion, the latest social outrage, and so on.

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My reaction after a visit to most social media sites.

Not you guys. You guys are cool. It’s everyone else’s opinions that can be annoying. At least in excess.

I found social media was often a distraction from what I was really wanting to do. You know, write. I was trying to do these things for my writing’s sake when, in reality, it was directly interfering with it.

It clouded my ability to walk through the park or enjoy a sunset without worrying how it would look on my wall. I was more concerned about crafting a humous, yet not offensive post that I realized two hours had passed and I still hadn’t finished that chapter. Keeping up with all the accounts was harder than trying to keep a Tamagotchi alive.

It reminded me of my trip to the UK and how everyone seemed more interested in having an interesting Snapchat story than relishing in the fact that they were in frigging Europe (before you say anything, this was before the Brexit vote so, technically, they were in the EU). I took a crap load of photos too, but I tried to learn when to put the camera down and actually enjoy life.

I am amazed that so many writers can post a million things on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook and still be able to publish a full-length novel by the end of the year. Some of them while working other jobs. I observe from the sidelines like “How do?”

Hell, I’m a writer. I don’t even know what I would take a picture of. Oh, look, here’s my desk. Here’s a pen. Here’s a book. Here’s a manuscript I promised I would finish by the time I graduate and haven’t touched in two years. Perhaps I require a social media consultant. A Henry Higgins-like figure who will shape me from a socially awkward pariah into something palatable for the masses.

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I don’t hold out much hope though.

Although I may get an Instagram.

Oh, wouldn’t that be loverly?