# of pages written: 12
# of times I’ve checked email/facebook: 2
# of days left to write 1st draft: 156
This morning I went on a hike in Nickerson State Park. A fine mist of rain fell from low, gray clouds, and the woods were green and lovely, but about five minutes down the trail, a terrible and persistent fly began to attack me. This was not a normal house fly like the ones that loop lazily around your kitchen on a summer day. This was a crazy, biting, attack-fly that was buzzing angrily as it tried to ram itself inside my ears, up my nose, and into the wet jelly of my eyes. I swatted and swatted, but it just attacked the other side of my head – flying into my ponytail, trying to go down the back of my shirt. I took off my baseball cap and began batting at it with full force, but still it came back, buzzing louder than ever.
Obviously, I couldn’t enjoy my walk. I couldn’t marvel over the flash of a red cardinal in the cedars or wonder what was making that deep groaning sound in the marsh. I couldn’t enjoy anything because the damn fly would not leave me alone!
The fly made me think of my past few days trying to write fiction. As I attempt to start writing a novel, I am attacked by persistent, buzzing thoughts: This is no good! Maybe I should write in third person, or present tense? This is juvenile. This is boring. I need to start over. I need to stop trying to write fiction. Normally, writing is a thing I enjoy, but it’s been hard to like it lately, as I’m constantly plagued by these annoying thoughts. I find myself rewriting the same thing over and over, or starting all over with something else. Or saying to myself “What’s the plot? What’s the point??” I am getting frustrated and not enjoying the journey.
As I swatted and cursed at the fly, I remembered visiting Nikki in Cape Cod last summer. We had been walking on a trail at Fort Hill when not just one, but an entire swarm of angry, biting attack-flies came after us. We had basically run back to the car, screaming and flailing our arms the entire way.
So now I did the same: I sped up my pace to out-distance the wretched fly. And then I thought, this is what I need to do with the annoying thoughts that keep buzzing in my head: out-run them. I need to just write at full speed, not worrying about tense or point-of-view or even whether or not it’s good, and leave those doubts and questions in the dust. My writing won’t be good the first time, and that’s okay. It’s a first draft. And I enjoy revision. So I can run through the first draft at top speed then come back through a second time when the flies are gone – it will be much less frustrating that way, and I’ll be able to actually enjoy myself.
Suddenly, I realized I’d out-paced the fly and I could hike the rest of the trail in peace. But as soon as I had that thought, the fine mist of rain turned into a downpour. Normally, getting rained on annoys me, but I was so pleased to be rid of the fly and rid of my writing doubts, I sort of enjoyed it. The smattering of rain drops on the leaves sounded like applause. The trees were giving me a standing ovation!
And then I did a strange thing. I started to run. This is very unusual for me because I detest running and avoid doing it unless being chased by a swarm of angry flies. But today, weirdly, I sort of enjoyed it. And I wasn’t running to escape the buzzing fly, or even running to get out of the rain. I was running because I was so excited to get home to my computer and start writing at full speed. Today I wrote 12 pages, and I like them all.