Stella Leventoyannis Harvey


“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Stephen King

“I’ve got an idea.” These are the words that strike fear into anyone who knows me. They frighten me a little too. But I persist because I’m curious and stubborn and want to know what will happen next. How far can I go with my inkling?

I like beginnings. A fresh project, whether it’s a piece of writing or a completely new addition to my festival, comes with an inherent gush of creativity and inventiveness. It’s a time I’m flush with hope of what is possible and completely blind to how I’m going to bring it to fruition. I feel quite smug and cozy in my naiveté.

And then I sit down. What was once so compelling and complete in my head seems to grow tentacles of doubt that I can basically sum up into one niggling, obstinate question: what the hell do you think you’re doing?

The simple answer is, I don’t know. But as I said before, I persist. It’s crazy I know.

If my new obsession is a writing project I sit down again and again. And I sit and I sit and sit some more (or now that I have a stand-up desk, I stand some more). There is no other way for me. I wish there were. I’ve begged for one, but haven’t found it.

By remaining in place, ideas begin to trickle out. Most of the time, I stare at my blank screen until my screensaver pops up. Then I only see my reflection. When I get sick of looking at myself, I take in the view out my window. A few more thoughts appear. And if I’m really lucky, one of these finds purchase and I run with whatever comes. I want to see how far I can go and where it will take me.

On those occasions when nothing happens, I wander the house, hack at the weeds in my garden, or go for a run. Distracting and removing myself is another one of the ways I deal with first drafts. This helps my over-wrought brain find its way back to the story I’m trying to uncover and eventually tell.

All firsts−whether they be drafts or ideas for new initiatives−are this way. You love them, become frustrated by them, hate them and love them again. The key is to stick it out, endure despite the fear and uncertainty and at times, let’s face it, boredom.

Persevering is the only way forward. For me anyway. Besides, first drafts lead to what I love the best: second, third, fourth and some time down the road, a final published manuscript. It’s then I find my way back to the idea I was so excited about in the first place.

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