Aphelion Editorial 063
The Poetry Editor stands in for the Senior Editor
by Rob Wynne
Noting the lack of rotting
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
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
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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