By Janice Scully
I never struggle with writer’s block, but the opposite. There is so much that interests me, I often can’t focus on one thing without being pulled off in another direction, like a child in a department store. This, of course, is worse with the ever present distraction of e-mail and the Internet.
So find myself thinking about my inner compass. What is true north? In other words, what do I really care about most? And what genre will suit the idea best? Do I want to write personal essays? I have had experiences, compelling ones to me, that I have tried with mixed success to wrestle into an essay. Historical non-fiction is a possibility, and certain ideas are best told from an historical perspective. Discovering the voice of fictional character in a novel seems more challenging me. It is something I have to commit to and live with. If my compass suggests a fictional character, it can’t veer away to some other seductive idea, or I will never find that voice. That is what makes writing so hard. It reminds me of a tin compass I had when I was a child, with a needle that kept quivering towards some mass of iron at or near the northpole. I could never know then, for certain, where north really was and follow.
But now, years later I ask, as I finish one project and am ready for the next, what do I really care about? What is my true north? Once I answer that, I have to settle down the needle on my adult compass, and persist, keeping on until I discover what is at the end of this particular outing, and hope that the direction I am headed is true.