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Friday, 3 June 2011

The Curse of the 13th Chapter

I’ve mentioned a certain monster called Ed: Ed looks like a decent monster-type, he’s not really that scary, is he? Ed’s more like those Monsters Inc. fellows who worry about not being scary enough, just like writers worry about not being eloquent enough, concise enough, wordy enough, or entertaining enough. Basically, fear is the reall big-ass monster that scares all the other monsters. It’s the fear of being afraid. You know, like when someone said it in Harry Potter. Moving on.

(Note to self: figure out why you like to use ‘big-ass’ so much. Childhood trauma much?)

This time I won’t name the monster. Instead, I’ll refer to it as TMTMNBN (The Monster That Must Not Be Named). I suppose it would have sounded better with a few vowels thrown in. Oh well.

The reason why TMTMNBN is so friggin’ scary is because it infects our brains with thoughts that we believe to be true and those thoughts are usually counter-productive. What is more, each writer has their own demons, and that Ultimate Monster Thing uses those to scare us out of writing.

Mine, it appears, is not Ed. It’s not the blank page either. It’s not even the beast that roams the mountains of Unfinished Projects and swims the waters of Drained Thoughts. You know the one: Writer’s Block.

No, my monster is bigger, hairier, and smarter than that. It doesn’t jump out of the dark corner, shouting ‘Boo’. Instead, it sneaks up on me at the most inappropriate moment and strikes with a lightining bolt, effectively paralyzing my fingers and sucking dry my mind-juices.

TMTMNBN knows what I’m afraid of and doesn’t hesitate to use it. The sad part is that it manages to scare me out of my pants (literally) every single fucking time it strikes.

(Yes, I said the word. I’ll probably say it again before this post ends.)

What I’m afraid of is… dun dun dun… expectation. I am terrified of big expectations. Even if they are my own. The moment I realize that something carries certain weight with it, like if it’s important for my future, I drop it on the floor in disgust and try to smash it with the heel of my shoe, all the while whrithing in the corner as if I’d faced the world’s largest cockroach.

I’m actually very happy to write, and productively so, until the moment the word-that-must-not-be-named pops up in my brain like a dull TV commercial at the side of my favorite show.

The word is PUBLISH.

It gives me the goosies. On my last project, I was so excited to write a chapter every day (2000 words) at the same time in the evening (8 pm), and for a while, the story was going great. I’d started with the thought that I’d never want to publish it, because I had enough projects lined up already. So I naively thought I’d write it ‘just for fun’. But any writer knows, ‘just for fun’ almost never lasts.

Soon enough, I had 13 chapters and I was having a blast. The best story I had ever written! I was so happy I had gotten my groove back that I didn’t realize what was coming. When I sat down to write the 14th chapter, I suffered a major block. I couldn’t get past the 13th, which was creepy enough in itself, but I still didn’t know what the problem was.

Naturally, it was TMTMNBN stealthily stacking the ‘publish’ bricks against the door of my brain-closet, effectively closing off my escape route and making me anxious about publishing this story I loved so much. A part of me still wishes it had waited until the story was finished. But no, of course it would choose the 13th chapter, you know, for dramatic value. It’s just how my mind works.

Besides, my mother and I were born on the 13th. Funny things happen on every single birthday of mine, and recently, I missed my 13th exam on Friday the 13th. Now that’s dramatic value right there. As for that chapter, I should have seen it coming.

Come back, muse! Go away TMTMNBN! Go fuck yourself, P-word.

*storms off the bloody page, never to return again*


Katie said...

TMTMNBN is evil and sadistic! Is it odd that 13 is one of my lucky numbers? Just thought I'd ask...=)

Lyn Midnight said...

Haha, no it's not odd. It has been my favorite number for most of my life. Sadly, recent events are starting to strain on our harmonious relationship. :D