"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." ~Scott Adams
"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." ~Leo Tolstoy
"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." ~Groucho Marx
"I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat." ~Edgar Allan Poe
"When asked, 'How do you write?' I invariably answer, 'One word at a time.'" ~Stephen King
"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." ~Richard Bach
"I think I'll put some mountains here. Otherwise, what will the characters have to fall off of?" ~Laurie Anderson
"You have to know how to accept rejection, and reject acceptance." ~Ray Bradbury
"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." ~Anais Nin
"To be all that we are, and to become all that we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life." ~RL Stevenson
"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." ~Albert Einstein
"Not all of me is dust. Inside my song, safe from the worm, my spirit will survive." ~Aleksandr Pushkin

Avoidance (Or, wanting to swallow the elephant whole)

By Loren L. Coleman

So, ever since deciding to pick up my metaphorical pen again, and return to doing some fiction writing, I’ve been finding myriad ways to avoid the actual writing part. In fact, at this moment. I’m avoiding my fiction writing by writing this post on the subject of avoidance.

Kinda meta, huh?

The hardest thing I ever did in my writing career was give it up for a few years. Not the giving up part, I guess. That part was pretty easy since it just sorta happened and it was months before I even realized it had happened. Then I went through several rounds of trying to keep it going, restarting, and then finally justifying a dozen different ways as to why I no longer had the time. Sure, I had picked up a creative job and it was paying the bills. And alternately my kids were becoming more and more demanding, especially the one with pretty serious aspirations and who made my work ethic (the good one I used to have) look pale and pathetic by comparison to his efforts. Still, I look back and amaze myself at how I not only let it slip away, but gave it a firm boot in the ass on the way out the door.

But it was hard. Hard on my emotional state. My mental state. And as I look at two-plus years of saying I wanted to get back up and running, and my recent stalled efforts, I begin to think about the elephant.

Not an elephant-in-the-room elephant. I’ve got a few of those lumbering around in my past, and my present, too. Those guys aren’t so much of a problem (currently). They can actually be fairly quiet and easy enough to live with most of the time. Elephant-in-the-room elephants never take the last beer and always lower the seat lid afterwards, so all in all they aren’t terrible roommates.

No. This is the need-to-eat type of elephant. A one-bite-at-a-time pachyderm. The trouble with this kind of elephant is that they are kinda dusty dry and tough as leather, and they tend to look at me rather reproachfully as I think about where I want to take that first bite. I’ve often had trouble with parceling out large problems into smaller, workable problems. Give me a Gordian knot and I’m looking for a sharp blade. I solve the Rubik’s Cube by taking the damn thing apart and reassembling it, then left it on my shelf for a year ro so before I threw the obnoxious thing away.

But the elephant won’t go. I love writing. I’ve loved and hated and loved again every novel I’ve ever written (in that order). I enjoy being creative, and entertaining people. I like bringing new characters and worlds to life. And in good Loren-fashion, I’ve been trying to swallow the elephant in one gulp so I don’t have to watch it watching me try to devour it. That just ain’t working. Not even with the world’s best candy coating.

I’ve had friends tell me not to stress so much about it. Some have reminded me of my own advice to writers in the past, that momentum works in both directions. It takes time. It takes effort.

I’m getting there. Step by step. Thought by thought. Word by excruciatingly-slow-word. I’m still tied to a job that sucks down a large part of my week, dealing with family, and all the usual jazz. But I’m finding time. Time to make the effort, even if tonight it is just sitting down to pound out my frustrations on the keyboard, so I can look back on them after I hit “update” and (hopefully) feel that–even if I haven’t started eating with gusto–I’ve at least managed to shrink that gray, floppy-eared bastard into something that will at least fit into my dining room.

Knowing that I’m just maybe starting to develop my appreciation for the taste of elephant again.

Categories : Writing


  1. Patrick says:

    Ditto. Except that it isn’t getting back up and running for me, or just two years.

    Hard to believe it’s been 6 years since someone tried to convince me to ask Kris about font and that I am still staring at the elephant I can’t seem to swallow.

  2. Loren L. Coleman says:

    Thanks for the comments, Patrick, PC.

    Someone tried to convince you to ask Kris about fonts?!? Now who would have done that? If I can offer any help, PAtrick, it’s don’t worry about the time. It’s a parallax distortion. The elephant didn’t actually get bigger, it just seems that way. Best!