To say that I haven’t written in a long time is not quite an accurate statement. I have written some. Mainly words have come in sporadic bursts, like a sneeze of literary gumption, where I will add words to a page and then move on to some other thing, seemingly unable to continue writing.
Days pass while I spend them staring into nothingness, wondering where time has gone and why I haven’t written anything down. I haven’t written much of anything of substance since May—3 weeks ago. Even then it wasn’t much. It hasn’t been much since last year.
One could call this writer’s block, but it is nothing more than a continuation of fear mixed with exhaustion, a blend of feelings I can’t seem to even put to words sometimes. All that doubt of my own abilities, the mistakes I’ve made to this point in what I’ve written, like the past somehow matters more than the future I am wanting to build for myself.
Another way to think of it: I’ve tripped, slamming face first into the dirt. I want to get up, need to get up, but I am so damn sore, so put down, that it takes some time to process what is even going on. Then I am more worried about being face-down in the dirt than picking myself up and figuring out what to do next.
It takes time.
Now life is changing on top of it all, as it does reliably.
It is a change that I wanted, a position where I get to travel and help, to be a service technician of sorts for the skill-set that I’ve learned over the last 20-ish years – pouring polyurethane foam. I was away from home last week. Away from my family, which absolutely brings its own levels of fear and stress. So where I hoped that evenings at the hotel would be littered with the gleeful preparation of fictional sentences combined into what one would call a story, I found myself sort-of blandly standing or laying or sitting around wondering what to do.
Sure… it gave me time to think, if one could call it that.
This post, this blurting of words, is another attempt at trying to decipher what’s been going on inside my head. It’s my first attempt since a few posts ago at really trying to dig into my psyche as to what the fuck has been going on with my writing. Hell… with me.
After all these events of the past year, my thoughts have been fucked up. Think of it like a person reaching into my brain with a mixer, scrambling up my thoughts. Confidence was shattered, to the point that I keep thinking that I want to go backwards rather than forward.
“Rewrite The Good Teacher.”
“Scrap your drafts – start over! All of it sucks anyway!”
I agree with reworking Gravity, changing it to longer novels rather than the small novellas I had been working with, that way I can spend more time with particular plot lines that I was burning through… OK. I’ve also toyed with adding a new beginning to Agnes, well, something to throw in front of what is there now but leaving the rest. Besides those thoughts, I’ve now come to terms with not scrapping my drafts, instead trying to rework them. And like with Of Earth and Ice, there have been some fun discoveries, such as 2 stories in 1! (At least I believed I came to terms with it.)
I’ve tried to revise and write new stuff. A few times. Pages in, I have to keep dragging myself back. Voices keep telling me that I need to give up, that no one will want to read this crap all the while my passion for writing trying to tell me that it doesn’t damn well matter if people never read it or like it, that as much as readers is the point; it isn’t the point.
Being a writer is fun right?!
Sometimes it is the opposite of fun. It’s a grueling mess of fighting against my own mental hang-ups. All the anxieties and doubts get twisted up in me as I approach the time to write. What’s fucked up about it all is that just last year at this time, I was well in the middle of a tremendous bout of writing that saw nearly 300,000 words written last year. That’s a 50,000-word novel every two months! It was sufficient enough writing to give me first drafts completed on 4 projects and to propel me forward on a few others.
I have a lot of work to get through.
At times I believed that it has been only my being a procrastinator, a lazy bum, that was keeping me from working. Fear really is the driving force behind it. Fear of what? Fear of all the normal rational or irrational things we all fear: that I am not good enough. (Of course, there’s also the more subversive fear of “what if I succeed?”.)
I know I wrote a lot about it in my last posts too; it bears repeating.
Even as I study stoic philosophy, and even as I hear the stories of the greats I listed above, I still feel inadequate. I find it to be part of the artist’s plight: to forever be chasing this ideal of what we ourselves believe we should be, but perpetually fail to live up against. Whatever I produce will never truly be good enough. But that’s a part of growth, right?
I think that my greatest problem has been that no matter what it is, fear, confusion, exhaustion, or whatever, I am not making the effort to write it out. Writing these things out, either in a journal, blog, or via a story is a therapy… a therapy that I’ve been avoiding.