So, it’s been a minute since I wrote anything about writing.
(Feel free to untangle that linguistic knot at your leisure.)
Truth is, I haven’t felt much like writing, lately.
I’ve wanted to, just like I’ve wanted to go to the gym, and fold my nearly week old clean laundry – which my wife will remind me is utterly wrinkled by now and should be thrown in the dryer for another ten minutes before the afore-mentioned act of folding, but I haven’t been able to muster the energy or motivation for any of that.
This week has felt like a slog.
Right now I’m trying to make sure the weekend doesn’t drag through my heart in a similar manner.
Oh, I’ve had ideas. I’ve written notes. Even some dialogue.
(Dialogue is one of the easiest ways I know to get in a character’s head. Start talking like him/ her, and usually I can assume the ghost of the character’s personality. His/ her reactions to certain things, at the very least.)
Depression’s like that. Some moments you fly. Some you drown. But most of the time it’s a squelchy trek through a sinking bog.
So, here’s the point where I decide whether or not I’m going to give you an update on my various projects, or go off on a tangent related to a post a friend of mine wrote the other day about writer’s block.
Maybe I’ll do both.
So, updatery first:
I’ve stalled out on my WIP; mainly because I have ideas, but I’m not sure I know where it’s going well enough to steer it in any particular direction. Part of that is knowing the characters better. So, most of my notes lately have been about the main characters and their antagonists.
But then, a different voice came to me. From a completely different story, in a different universe totally unrelated.
New notebook. More notes.
I had thoughts of writing a spooky Halloween story, and submitting to an anthology. Some interesting starts on that, but it isn’t cooking. So, it gets moved to a back burner to simmer. It’ll probably get written in October, when the first crisp day hits, but that’ll be well past the anthology’s deadline. Sometimes it comes on time, and sometimes the conductor’s been drinking rot-gut whiskey and the train slows to a grinding halt several miles outside of the station.
I’m learning as much as I can about marketing for self publishing, and wondering if I’ll ever be able to save up enough cash to finally light the fuse on that rocket.
Little by little, I’m getting there. I think?
Trying to keep this blog humming – if two days a week makes any kind of tune.
I need to find more Beta Readers, and maybe a steady Critique Partner or two. The search continues.
What was the other thing?
Oh yeah, Writer’s Block.
Lot’s of people have written interesting things about it. Namely my friend, author, Brad C. Hodson. You should check him out when you get a chance. His site’s here.
It’s distinctly possible that we, as writers, write about the dreaded malady as a way of end-running around the damn situation – just to get the words moving, even if they aren’t the ones we originally wanted commit to print.
(I may or may not be doing that presently. I can neither confirm nor deny…)
For me, the Creative-Condition-that-Shall-Henceforth-not-be-Named usually occurs only as a result of depression and too much stress.
When I performed poetry, and coincidentally hung out with more poets, I ran into many of the “I can’t create unless I’m miserable” types.
I was never one of those.
Whatever emotion I was feeling at the time tended to dictate what I wrote.
But hey, that’s art.
Depression and misery, on the other hand, sit my ass in the chair and demand I stare off into space, a thousand yards and counting.
Pretty sure, given the frequency of my condition, all of my friends have seen that faraway look in my glassy eyes, at some point or other.
“Tess is searching the middle distance again.”
“OK, what’s new? Just make sure no one tips him over, this time.”
I’m sure, if I had been all there, I’d have heard the rest of that conversation.
Depression, for me at least, is one of those things where your body takes over and says, “Nope, don’t care what you want. Pay attention to this thing. Right now!”
It’s kind of like getting knocked out. Your organism knows it needs to focus on protecting itself, and does not give a single, blessed fuck what your conscious mind had planned.
That’s when I can’t really write.
It’s not that I feel uninspired. I write through that shit constantly.
Inspiration is a peak experience. And without the aid of chemical intervention, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as you’d like to believe. It’s rare, and wonderful, and that’s why we creative types talk about it all the time; trying to savor some of the remaining glow I guess.
The biggest problem with my experience of depression is, you remember that thing I said about focusing, yeah, that. It doesn’t want me to focus on my writing, or my physical health, or my job, or my hygiene, or pretty much anything else.
And if you’ve been depressed – not sad, but properly depressed – you’ll know that running away from that feeling as hard and fast as you can is the only other thing you can really think about.
And those two impulses: to run and to twist in on yourself, are in constant, shifting tension.
I call it The War in my Head.
Maybe you’ve felt the same way?
So, when I’m firing on all cylinders, when I’m not depressed, I don’t experience that thing we agreed not to mention again.
I might have to switch to a different project for a bit, but that’s about it.
I’ve been writing, fairly steadily, for about 20 years now.
If I’m not sunk, neck-deep in my own sucking mind-hole, I write and keep writing.
I don’t imagine that my experience is indicative of anything that might be called an average, or norm. I hope to [insert favorite deity here] that it isn’t.
The hardest thing for me to do, when I run face first into the concrete abutment of my emotional damage, is to tell myself it’s okay.
I can let it sit for a while.
(Sometimes I’ve let it sit for a long-damn-while. My last two completed novels each took about three years or so to complete. That’s chronological accounting. In working hours, they took maybe three months a piece, total. And the last one was 110,000 words. Once I knock the rust off, the skills tend to return with alacrity.)
Sometimes I struggle to remind myself that it’s okay to sit and stare holes in the nothingness beyond.
And some days I beat myself up for it.
No one’s perfect.
Anyways, I’ve probably rambled enough for one post.
If you made it this far, thanks.
Until next time…