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Sometimes it’s not a lack of ideas that cause anxiety in the writer, but rather an influx of ideas. When I’m sitting quietly contemplating the upcoming Muskoka Novel Marathon, it’s crazy how many thoughts swoop in and fly by. I get to the point of panic as I graze each one, taste it on my tongue and wiggle it around trying it on for size. There will come a point in the next week or so when the panic will put me in a choke-hold. I will swear by all the gods in all the universes that I will not be able to focus on one idea long enough to sustain me through an entire novel during my weekend writing marathon.

At that point–just before I give up and throw in the towel–it will be time for the marathon to begin. When I take my seat and await the opening bell that rings throughout the marathon venue to signal the beginning of the writing journey…I will drop my head in my hands and release a tumultuous sigh. DEFEATED!

And then my hands will touch the keyboard in front of me and they will begin to move. And that is the point where the idea that festered the loudest and the longest will will itself out of my brain and down through my arms and into my fingers and onto the keys and onto the screen in front of my defeated eyes. That’s when I will know I have once again defeated the monster.

It’s the same every year. The fear and worry leading up to the event. The surety that I will fail. The hellish fear that for the 72 hours of the writing marathon I will look at a blank screen that just keeps getting blanker and blanker. Or is that more and more blank? It’s that fear that drives me…that forces ALL THOSE IDEAS to strain themselves down through the tunnel between brain and screen…to vie for that spot as MAIN IDEA. There is a war going on at the moment. A huge internal conflict that I am hardly aware of…but, oh, it IS there. The hounds of hell in the form of a thousand and a hundred thousand of ideas fighting at the starting gate. I can hear their howls, taste the blood as they spit and grind their sharp incisors…feel their feet scraping the rough and frozen tundra of my mind.

I don’t know what I will write. I don’t know any of it. But I know there is something churning in me, waiting to takeover. When that opening bell sounds, I’ll be there. And I’ll be praying to the freaks and the fools. Sometime between the first ring and the last I will will myself to surrender. The bell’s echo will slow to a hum…and I’ll be gone…

I will allow the ideas in my mind to become my opiates…and I will vanish in the crescendo…

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