Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
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Aphelion Editorial 063

October 2002

The Poetry  Editor stands in for the Senior Editor

by Rob Wynne

Noting the lack of rotting vegetables and eggs thrown last month, Muir drags out his soapbox once more...

Dan still being on sabbatical, we, the Editorial Mafia, present the October edition of Aphelion, more or less on time, and in half the time that it took to produce the last one. (Are we good, or are we good? Answers on a postcard, please, twenty words or less.)

A blank page stares back at me from my word processor as I sit and ponder this month's editorial. A blank page is a daunting thing, especially when one feels that there is an audience out there expecting one to sparkle and entertain them. Anyone who has written knows the feeling. I don't care if the muse is a personal friend, who drops by for tea every morning (if she is, send her my way! It's been a while, and I miss her!), at some time in your writing life you will be staring at a blank page, be it electronic or physical, and asking yourself the same question:

What do I write next?

Those are five of the scariest words I know. They're right up there with "I don't know how to tell you this, but..." and "we need to talk." Even more frightening, perhaps, because they arise from an inner compulsion, not from an outside source. We write because of an inner compulsion, a need to express these strange ideas that parade through our subconscious, not because we dream of wealth or fame. Wealth and fame would be nice, but for every Stephen King or Isaac Asimov, there is a legion of Joes and Jolenes who sit at a typewriter or word processor and type away because the words have to come out somehow, and there is an almost physical pain if they do not. And sometimes the flow stops, and you are left staring at the blank screen, and you realise that you have written yourself into a corner, or that you actually have no idea how our heroine escapes the clutches of the evil Baron, or you realise that the gizmo you were relying on to save the day just isn't going to work. Worst of all are the days when, try as you may, the words just will not come. What to do when the megrims set in and you cannot write?

The best plan, I have found, is to stop trying. Go and do something else. Play games. Watch "Buffy." Talk to the cat. Think about something else, and let your subconscious slip you the note that says "ah, but if you do * this*, it all makes sense!" If need be, leave the project and work on something else. I am about half way through writing a novella - have been for the last year or so. The half that still refuses to write itself is actually plotted in my head. I know who dunnit. I know why, and I know what weapon they used. I know how the hero is going to discover this, and I almost have "the drawing room scene" scripted. I just cannot find the words to show it to the rest of you. The answer? I write poetry. I write short stories. I have a quiet drink in the Mare Inebrium and look at Trixie's legs (yes, Dan, I will get around to sending you "hot legs!" - next month). One of these nights, I will awake at three in the morning, and I will know the words, and they will flow, and if the gods (and Jeff) are willing, I will share them with you. THEN you can throw the rotting fruit and chicken ova!

The Beatles said it best: "let it be." Ecclesiastes tells us that "to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." If you book them, they WILL come. Relax. Contemplate your navel. Then apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair, and type!


2002 Iain Muir

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